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Wintry weather week ahead

Sunday, April 12, 2020

It would have been a Closing Day powder day at the Steamboat Ski Resort this Sunday as 6.5” of snow was at the top in time for the morning report. And we are up to 10” on the Powdercam as of 1 pm Sunday afternoon as showers continue behind last night’s cold front in the favorable cold, moist and unstable northwest flow. Winter weather is expected to last through most of the work week, punctuated with another significant storm for Thursday, before temperatures warm and skies clear heading into next weekend.

While a ridge of high pressure currently sits off the West Coast, a very cold air mass is centered over the southern Canadian Plains, and some of this cold air was brought over our area by the cold front last night. Our high temperature this Sunday of 36 F at the Bob Adams airport was likely reached at midnight last night as our afternoon temperatures show little inclination to rise much above freezing, though the sun peaking out in the valley may change that. Additional snow showers, especially at the higher elevations, will continue overnight and through Monday, with another 2-5” expected up top by Monday afternoon.

Another colder but much drier push of cold air is then forecast for Monday night. While no additional accumulations are expected, we could see low temperatures Tuesday morning at the top of Mt. Werner below zero and Yampa Valley temperature as low as the single digits, well below our valley average low of 25 F. But it looks like the sun will make an appearance for the first half of Tuesday before disappearing until Friday.

A Pacific wave currently in the Gulf of Alaska and rounding the top of the ridge of high pressure off the West Coast is forecast to move over our area Wednesday night in favorable and cool northwest flow. Snow showers could begin as early as Tuesday night ahead of the storm and become more intense and more numerous through the day Wednesday. Moderate to sometimes heavy snows are expected by Wednesday night, making any travel difficult, and 6-12” of snow is possible at the top of the hill by Thursday morning, with several inches possible in town. Trailing energy is expected to keep snow showers going during the day Thursday with another 3-6” of snow possible up top.

Meanwhile, incoming Pacific energy is forecast to take a route through rather than over the ridge of high pressure off the West Coast. This will allow the West Coast ridge to expand inland and displace the cold air over our region to the east. Much warmer and drier weather is currently forecast for Friday and at least part of Saturday before that Pacific energy approaches our area by mid-weekend. There is weather model disagreement on the speed and track of waves of Pacific energy traveling through the ridge, but warmer and possibly still unsettled weather is forecast starting mid-weekend and lasting into the next work week.

Cold storm for Easter Sunday

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Steamboat Springs area has cracked the vaunted sixty degree mark for the first time this year, with the Bob Adams airport currently showing a Thursday mid-afternoon temperature of 64 F. A storm to our southwest will approach our area beginning tonight with little affect on our weather ahead of a strong and cold storm starting later Saturday. The cool and showery weather looks to hang around for the following work week.

Currently, a storm cut off from the jet stream is spinning over southern California. Additionally, a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska has mixed with some very cold air from the North Pole, and this storm is forecast to move to the southeast towards our area as a ridge of high pressure builds over the Gulf of Alaska behind the storm.

The California storm is forecast to travel along the southern U.S. border through the weekend. Not much weather is expected from this storm as it stays to our south, though we’ll see some clouds tonight and perhaps a bit of snow at the highest elevations as moisture is drawn northward ahead of the storm.

Friday should be nice, with possibly some afternoon clouds, with high temperatures decreasing to only around five degrees above our average of 51 F.

Though there should be some sun early Saturday, clouds will increase through the day with showers beginning in the afternoon. A strong cold front associated with storm is forecast to blast through north-central Colorado Saturday night, with snow becoming moderate to heavy at times and creating difficult travel, not that there is much of that these days.

We should see 3-6” of snow on the Powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak by Sunday morning, with snow even down to the Yampa Valley floor. Snow showers will continue through the day Sunday in the cold, moist, unstable and favorable northwest flow behind the front, with another 2-5” expected up top. High temperatures on Sunday will be thirty or so degrees below what we are observing today, bringing back winter for Easter Sunday and what should have been our Closing Day celebration.

The weather looks to remain cold and unsettled through much of the work week as waves of energy and moisture travel around the ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska. Weather forecast models disagree on the timing and strength of the waves, starting as soon as Monday night, but it appears a moderate storm, or perhaps two, may bring another round of accumulating snows to our starting around midweek.

Lots of uncertainty heading into the following weekend as weather forecast models disagree on the expansion of the ridge of high pressure inland as well as the fate of additional Pacific energy and moisture interacting with the ridge. A broader ridge positioned further to the east will allow for warming and drying over our area, otherwise more cool and unsettled weather is likely.

Sunny and warm work week ahead of unsettled weekend

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Warm temperatures in the low fifties and mostly cloudy skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. We’ll see sunnier and warmer weather through midweek before precipitation chances increase later Thursday and through the weekend.

Currently, a strong storm just off the northern California coast has become an eddy that is forecast to slowly sink along the California coast through midweek. The clouds over our area today are a result of a small batch of energy and moisture ahead of the storm, but the clouds are forecast to be replaced with sunny skies and temperatures five to ten degrees above our average of 49 F through midweek.

The storm is forecast to turn eastward by Wednesday and travel across the Desert Southwest through the end of the work week. Weather forecast models usually struggle with the speed and track of these eddies as they are cut off from the strong steering flow of the jet stream, and this storm is no exception.

While the bulk of the precipitation will fall to our south, there is a chance of perhaps significant precipitation from later Thursday through at least part of Friday according to at least one of the weather models. Regardless of the amount of precipitation, snow levels are likely to be relatively high thanks to the several days the storm will have spent warming in the lower latitudes, and storm specifics will have to wait until my next scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in the Gulf of Alaska by the work week’s end, and this forces several waves of Pacific energy to ride over this ridge and mix with some cold air from the north. The first wave passes over our area around Friday night into Saturday and the second approaches our area by the end of the weekend.

So we will transition from the warm southwesterly flow for most of the work week to cooler northwest flow for the weekend. Again there are weather forecast model differences with the track and available moisture of these northwest storms, but cooler and unsettled weather is forecast for the following weekend.

For what its worth, and even though I expect the forecast to change over the coming days, the European ECMWF has the first northwest wave bringing significant snow to our area heading into the weekend while the American GFS is much weaker. But the GFS brings a significant snowstorm to our area early in the following work week with the second wave while the European ECMWF initially keeps that storm to our west.

Winter blast for Thursday

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The weather in Steamboat Springs this Wednesday noon is warm and mostly sunny ahead of a quick-moving and cold winter storm for Thursday. After that, moderating temperatures and some chances for showers are in our weather future for the upcoming week.

A large storm currently over northwestern North America is bringing cold temperatures and snow to the northwestern quarter of the U.S, and we should see breezy southwesterly winds and increasing clouds this afternoon ahead of the storm, with a chance for some light showers.

A strong cold front is forecast to move through our area around noon on Thursday, with periods of moderate to heavy snow along and behind the front. I would expect 3-6” of snow on the Powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak by sunset with an additional 1-4” during the evening and overnight as showers taper off in the favorable and cold northwest flow behind the front.

Though Friday will start chilly with some snow likely on the ground in the Yampa Valley, drier air behind the storm should allow for sun during the day, though temperatures will still stay ten to fifteen degrees below our average high of 49 F.

The uncertainty regarding the weather for Saturday has fortunately decreased with the American GFS now agreeing with the more consistent European ECMWF that a ridge of high pressure will build over the eastern two thirds of the U.S. by Monday. So that will bring moderating temperatures for the weekend, though we may see some showers on Sunday as a small storm is mostly deflected to our north by that ridge.

Meanwhile, another strong storm is forecast to develop off the Pacific Northwest coast on Sunday and split. Weather forecast models agree that the bulk of the storm will form an eddy and sink slowly down the West Coast through midweek before turning inland and moving across the Desert Southwest. But some energy is forecast to eject out of the eddy early Monday as it sinks south along the West Coast, and this may bring the possibility of showers to our area later in the day.

Shower possibilities continue on Tuesday as we may see a weak cool front associated with the northern part of the split storm pass through.

It does appear we get a break from the unsettled weather on Wednesday before that Desert Southwest storm may or may not affect our area towards the end of the work week. At this point, the ECMWF is slower and further north with the storm as compared to the American GFS, though both bring the possibility of showers back to our area by later Thursday and Friday even as they keep the bulk of the storm to our south.

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