Two storms for this week

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Light snow and a temperature of 28 F are currently observed in Steamboat Springs on this Sunday noon behind a weak wave that moved through last night. A split storm will bring significant snows to our area by Tuesday morning followed by a dry but much colder Wednesday, with another storm advertised for New Years Eve.

Ahead of a split storm currently approaching the West Coast, light snows will continue intermittently today before ending around sunset. Our next more significant storm will start warm with light-intensity and high-density snow appearing during Monday morning as we see winds from the southwest. The snows should pick up in intensity during the afternoon and evening as the southern part of the split storm drawn near before a cold front associated with the weak northern part of the storm moves through around midnight. Moderate to heavy snows around the frontal passage and continued accumulations in the favorable moist and unstable flow generally from the northwest will occur through sunrise on Tuesday when snowfall rates decrease in the morning and taper off by sunset.

Thankfully, winds do not appear to be an issue as they are forecast to decrease as first the southern part of the storm passes by late Monday and stay subdued as the weak northern part of the storm passes over early Tuesday. But travel may still be difficult at times, especially over Rabbit Ears Pass, as the snowfall quickly accumulates between plow cycles.

So this could be quite a nice storm, with the dense snow on Monday followed by substantially fluffier snow after the front passes. I would expect 5-10” by the Tuesday morning report with another 1-4” during the day, which would be reported on Wednesday morning.

Trailing energy will force an additional cold front through our area Tuesday night, so Wednesday will be a cold and dry day with high temperatures on the hill in the single digits and in the teens in town, which is about ten or so degrees below the Bob Adams airport average of 26 F.

Another storm crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Wednesday and undergoes a severe split, with the southern part forecast to cross the Great Basin on Thursday as it moves toward Mexico on Friday. It’s remarkable how many times we have had snow observed during New Years Eve, and we will once again as we enter 2021. The storm looks disorganized in the weather forecast models as it sinks across the Great Basin on Thursday, but it currently looks like it will stay organized enough for light snow from around Thursday afternoon to Friday morning. Since I plan to post another weather narrative on New Years Eve Day, I’ll hold off on guessing the snow amounts for Friday morning until then, though amounts currently look modest at best.

It looks like we dry out for the first weekend of 2021 as a weak storm is diverted well to our north on Sunday by a flat ridge of high pressure that briefly builds over the Intermountain West. Our next chance for snows should occur around the following Tuesday as the storm track orients itself into a west-to-east direction that directs Pacific storms inland and towards our area.

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