Stretch of snowy weather starts this weekend

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Sunny skies have moved over the Steamboat Springs area this Christmas Eve Day, though temperatures are quite cold behind the winter storm that started on Tuesday afternoon with an impressive snow squall. Expect warming temperatures for today and Christmas Day, especially at the higher elevations, before a stretch of unsettled weather starts mid-weekend and lasts into the new year.

Though sunny skies prevail late this Thursday morning, temperatures are still cold and in the single digits both in town and on the mountain after a sub-zero start. A ridge of high pressure will continue moving over our area today and tomorrow, with sunny skies and warming temperatures expected, with the warming most pronounced at the higher elevations as the clear and calm nighttime skies allow temperatures inversions to form.

A disorganized storm currently moving through the Gulf of Alaska will keep the ridge of high pressure moving eastward, with a sunny Saturday morning giving way to clouds by the afternoon and snow showers in the evening. While showers will continue overnight and into Sunday morning, accumulations should be light and in the 1-4” range by the Sunday morning report with an additional inch or so after the report.

A much colder and more organized storm currently in the Bering Sea will cross the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday and the West Coast on Sunday night. This low pressure system will not only tap very cold air from near the North Pole, but also some subtropical moisture as it approaches the coast.

Energy and moisture ejecting out ahead of the storm should keep clouds over our area later Sunday and begin light snow showers by Monday morning in the southwest flow ahead of the storm. There may be a brief break before the main storm restarts light showers by later Monday, before snows become heavier and more persistent overnight. The storm looks to start warm as the southwest flow moves warmer our to our south northward, with a cold front forecast to move through Monday night.

At this point, I’d guess this will be a 6-12” event by Tuesday morning, with cool temperatures expected on Tuesday. Several reinforcing waves of cold air are forecast during the day Tuesday and especially Tuesday night, keeping snow showers going in the favorable cold, moist and unstable northwest flow through at least some of Wednesday. Wednesday morning looks quite cold, similar to but perhaps not quite as cold as yesterday where temperatures at the top of the mountain did not rise above -2 F during the day.

The snow that falls after the cold front on Monday night will be progressively less dense as the air grows colder, leading to fluffy accumulations that will inflate the snow totals. Considering this is a week away, I’ll hold off guessing on snow amounts for Wednesday morning, but they may be healthy.

Even though a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build over the West Coast behind the storm, waves of energy and moisture riding over the top of the ridge will pass through our area in favorable northwest flow, and it looks like after a brief break later Wednesday, snow showers restart around Thursday. They look to persist through Friday before another storm is advertised for the following weekend.

Lots of weather is forecast for next week, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for details on the promising Tuesday storm. And please remember to support your local forecaster when you visit this post on

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21 May 2021

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