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Moisture increases this week

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Another hot and hazy day is in store for Steamboat Springs this Sunday with the temperature already up to 84 F on this mostly sunny Sunday noon. Moisture from the southwest is forecast to increase over our area starting tomorrow and lasting for about a week. We need to make the best of what moisture will be available though, as it appears our first cool front, currently forecast for just before the first day of meteorological fall, September 1, will sweep any moisture over our area to the east.

A ridge of high pressure currently centered over the Four Corners will be suppressed to the south and nudged eastward over the upcoming week by a series of storms moving through the Gulf of Alaska and eventually the northern U.S. While the remnants of former-hurricane Genevieve look to skirt north of our area, the southwesterly flow on the western side of the ridge of high pressure will bring monsoonal moisture from the Mexican Plateau over our area. Unfortunately, it may also transport smoke from the Pine Gulch fire near Grand Junction and the Grizzly Creek fire near Glenwood Springs back to the region.

Though hurricane Marco, currently in the Gulf of Mexico and soon-to-be-hurricane Laura, currently over the Dominican Rebublic are forecast to threaten the Gulf Coast through the work week, our area will not be seeing any moisture from these tropical storms. We will have to rely on much more modest monsoonal moisture for the next week, and can expect at least some clouds that will help reduce our forecast high temperatures to around five degrees above our average high of 79 F.

The moisture will also insulate the surface during the night, so expect much warmer low temperatures around ten degrees or more above our average low of 42 F.

Chances for rain increase starting on Monday afternoon, though showers associated with the early part of a monsoon surge usually yield more wind than rain as it takes a day or two for the lower levels of the atmosphere to moisten. In any event, none of the work week days look to produce significant accumulations, though storms that develop could produce brief but locally moderate to heavy rain. Additionally, the moister atmosphere makes it more likely that we may see some rainfall overnight as well.

Our best chance for significant rain will likely wait until later next weekend as one of the Gulf of Alaska storm mixes with some cold air from the North Pole, bringing our first cool front since spring through our area around the beginning of the following work week. There is a lot of variability in the forecast strength and southern extent of this storm, with the American GFS bringing the storm across in several pieces while the European ECMWF has a more coherent storm that passes through earlier.

But both increase rain chances on Sunday before the passage of the cool front, and both eventually have much drier air behind the front as the westerly flow severs the monsoonal moisture tap, with longer-range models keeping the dry air around through at least the next work week.

So for the upcoming week, hope for rain and minimal smoke, and I’ll have more details about our first impending cool front of the season on my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

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