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Cool and unsettled start and end to the week ahead

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Temperatures in the mid-thirties are currently over Steamboat Springs early this Sunday afternoon with periods of clouds and sun. I had about a half inch of snow on my deck this morning while the recently revived Steamboat Powdercam showed about 3” of accumulations at the top of Sunshine Peak from the the first part of the blustery storm that moved through last night. A second part of the storm passes through tomorrow afternoon and evening with a bit better accumulations before we see a break later Tuesday. Another storm that is currently trending weaker passes through on Wednesday and early Thursday before another break is advertised for the end of the work week ahead of a possible weekend storm.

The jet stream has flipped to an active pattern more appropriate for mid November as chunks of cold air break away from the main circulation around the North Pole. Our temperatures have coincidentally flipped from running about ten to fifteen degrees above our average of 46 F this past week to ten degrees below average today, accompanied with some snowfall.

The storm last night was the first of two to pass through that are associated with a large region of low pressure spinning over the Great Basin. We are currently between storms, with some light and intermittent snow showers mixed with clearing skies forecast through Monday morning. But the second storm will bring a good cold front through our region Monday afternoon, with snow showers increasing around noon ahead of the front.

Showers will become moderate to heavy along and behind the front from about 3 pm to 9 pm before tapering off overnight as winds switch to be first from the southwest, to the west when the front passes, and eventually the northwest behind the front. Expect snowfall rates of an inch per hour at times which may make travel difficult over Rabbit Ears Pass. Accumulations from Sunday night through Tuesday morning should be in the 2-5”, with the higher amounts at the higher elevations.

Snow showers should end early Tuesday on a cool day as another storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska crosses the Pacific Northwest Coast and moves across the northern Rockies, grazing our area around Wednesday night. This storm has trended weaker since my last Thursday weather narrative, and now looks to bring only light snow showers confined to the higher elevations along the Wyoming border.

The switch to a more active jet stream is causing increased uncertainty in the weather forecast models, but at this point it looks like a break in the active weather is timed for later Thursday and Friday before a Pacific wave embedded in increasing northwest flow passes over our area on Saturday. Due to the north-south orientation of the Park Range and lack of high mountains to our northwest, any storms embedded within flow from the northwest are particularly favorable for precipitation in the north-central Colorado mountains. So we may be in for a round of good snowfall from about Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon if current weather model forecasts hold.

A peek at the longer-range weather forecast models shows some warming and drying early in the following work week before the active jet stream reasserts itself over our area by midweek and again around Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Area, which is Saturday, 21 November. Of course, this forecast is subject to change, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for updates on our upcoming storms.

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