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Snowy Saturday followed by midweek warming

Thursday, November 12, 2020

I had 4” of snow on my deck this Thursday morning, with around 9” shown on the Steamboat Powdercam. The sun is out this afternoon on a crisp late-fall day with temperatures around freezing in the Steamboat Springs area. We should see continued beautiful weather for Friday before a quick-moving winter storm brings wind and snow to our area on Saturday before tapering off late in the day. After some more snow showers later Sunday, expect warming temperatures through the work week before some sort of storm is advertised for around Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Area, which is on Saturday, 21 November.

Behold the magic of our favorable northwest flow! The storm last night had gone through a lot of forecast changes since its original mention in my weather narrative a week ago, going from a 2-5” event to a minimal event in my Sunday weather narrative to an eventual 5-10” event. Weather forecast models had a tough time with this wave embedded in the favorable, moist, cool and unstable northwest flow, not getting it right until the Wednesday morning iteration.

Our high temperatures on a mostly sunny Friday will warm towards average, which is now only 43 F and falling by around a half degree every day. A shallow wave currently in the Gulf of Alaska will approach our area later Friday, bringing increasing clouds and winds from the southwest. Light snow showers should begin around midnight on Friday night ahead of the cold front before intensifying early Saturday morning as the front moves through and swings our winds to once again be from the favorable northwest.

This quick-moving storm will bring periods of moderate to heavy snowfall from before sunrise on Saturday through the early afternoon, likely making travel difficult at pass level as the accompanying strong winds bring blowing snow and limited visibility. I would expect 6-12” on the mountain by sunset on Saturday with around half that in the Yampa Valley.

Snow showers will end for a time overnight before a much weaker wave, still in northwest flow, moves across later Sunday and generates some light snow showers, most intermittent at the lower elevations.

But this ripple in the jet stream, in still favorable northwest flow, does not look to be very productive as a ridge of high pressure begins building over the West Coast in advance of another storm developing in the Gulf of Alaska. So after a cool and showery Sunday, the snow showers will end early Monday and we should see periods of sun as temperatures moderate back towards average.

Further warming and drying is advertised for Tuesday and Wednesday with high temperatures up to ten degrees above average for a beautiful couple of days as the ridge of high pressure moves overhead. Warm temperatures will persist for the rest of the work week, though we will see some clouds as moisture is brought over our area in the southwest flow behind the ridge of high pressure and ahead of the Gulf of Alaska storm approaching the West Coast.

There is a fair bit of disagreement among the weather forecast models as to the evolution of this storm, though it appears we will see some snow for Opening Day weekend. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for a recap of the Saturday storm and more details on the storm forecast for next weekend.

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