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Another hot and dry weather week ahead

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The current hot and dry weather over Steamboat Springs this past week looks to continue for the following week, with even hotter temperatures forecast through the weekend. There may be some heat relief midway through the next work week, but significant rainfall looks unlikely through this forecast period.

A summer ridge of high pressure over the western two thirds of the U.S. is battling a stormy area over the Gulf of Alaska, and the ridge is handily winning over our area as storms from the Gulf periodically travel across the northern Rockies.

One such storm will move across Montana on Friday and produce a breezy afternoon with winds from the west. Another stronger storm crosses the British Columbia coast this weekend, with the southwesterly flow ahead of the storm encouraging the ridge to build even more over most of the West. While the Bob Adams airport in Steamboat Springs reached 89 F this past Tuesday, nineties are in our future as soon as Friday. These hot temperatures are well above our average high of 81 F and look to last into the next work week.

Chances for precipitation are close to nil for the next few days, and only slight for Sunday afternoon as sparse monsoonal moisture is drawn over the Desert Southwest and toward our area ahead of the British Columbia storm. But this moisture will be high based, and while we may see some clouds at times that would moderate the hot temperatures, any precipitation is likely to evaporate before reaching the ground, producing virga, and more wind than rain.

As the British Columbia storm moves eastward across the northern Rockies early in the work week, winds will increase from the west again which will increase fire weather concerns. But the storm looks to be strong enough to drag a weak cool front near our area around Tuesday and Wednesday, and this will help limit the afternoon temperatures to the eighties.

In addition to some heat relief, there may be some moisture around for the possibility of showers, though that is very uncertain at this time. Not only may there be some moisture associated with the cool front, but the storm is forecast to be strong enough to displace the ridge of high pressure eastward, perhaps allowing some monsoonal moisture from the south to move northward along its west side and toward our area.

There are indications in the longer term weather forecast models that this weak tap of monsoonal moisture may persist through the rest of the work week and headed into the following weekend, though areas to our south would be favored if that occurred. However, the monsoonal surges predicted by the longer range models have not been verifying well so far this season, so I would classify that forecast as optimistic.

I’ll discuss the cool-down for next week and the possible appearance of some moisture in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Hot and dry weather for the upcoming week

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The temperature is already 80 F in sunny Steamboat Springs this Sunday noon on the way to the mid-eighties. Building clouds, if they occur over our area, may take the edge off the heat this afternoon, though these storms, like yesterday, would likely produce more wind than rain. But today will be our last chance for any rainfall until mid-next weekend as hot, dry and sometimes breezy to windy weather is expected through the upcoming work week.

A ridge of high pressure loosely centered over the central U.S. will build westward over our area through the work week as a persistent area of storminess over the Gulf of Alaska keeps a series of storms moving through the jet stream located across the northern Rockies. While dry air and hot temperatures five to ten degrees above our average high of 80 F will be the rule this upcoming week, afternoon winds will periodically increase ahead of and along with the Gulf of Alaska storms passing to our north.

One such storm crosses the Pacific Northwest on Monday, so breezy to windy southwest flow is expected on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday as the storm passes well to our north.

Behind that storm, the ridge of high pressure to our east moves westward and over our area by the end of the work week, decreasing winds but keeping the hot temperatures around.

Additionally, another Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest mid-next weekend as a strong tropical storm moves west of the Baja peninsula. There is a chance that some moisture from the Baja storm will be drawn northeastward in the southwesterly flow ahead of the Gulf of Alaska storm, though weather forecast models disagree on whether the Gulf of Alaska storm will be strong enough for that to occur.

So there may be some rain chances by next weekend, or not, and I’ll be discussing this possibility in my next weather narrative scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Some showers possible for the Independence Day weekend

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The current hot, dry and sunny weather in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon will yield to a modest increase in mid and upper level moisture starting on Friday. But the lower levels of the atmosphere will remain dry, so there will only be small chances for showers from Friday through Sunday, with the best chances on Independence Day. While clouds may moderate afternoon temperatures, a return to hot and dry weather is forecast for the following work week.

A strong and cold storm off the British Columbia coast will be kept at bay by a westward-expanding ridge of high pressure currently over the central U.S. The North American Monsoon then gets started as the combination of southerly flow ahead of the British Columbia storm and the clockwise flow around the ridge of high pressure bring moisture originally from the Gulf of Mexico and now pooling over the Mexican Plateau northward.

The ridge of high pressure will bring hot temperatures in the eighties for the upcoming week, which will be above our average high of 79 F. While areas to our south will be favored for precipitation, we will see small chances on Friday and Sunday, with a better chance on Independence Day, especially at the higher elevations.

The British Columbia storm is forecast to move across the northern Rockies late in the weekend, which will suppress the ridge of high pressure to our south and shift our winds from southerly to westerly. Winds from the west will sever the stream of moisture from the south as much drier air moves overhead, so next work week is looking mostly sunny, hot and dry.

Another storm off the British Columbia coast is forecast to move across the northern Rockies midweek, and the ridge of high pressure rebuilds over our area behind that storm by the end of the work week. This will at least briefly shift our winds to be from the south again, which bring some shower chances around Thursday or Friday as monsoonal moisture is again transported over Colorado.

However, additional storminess is forecast off the British Columbia coast, and as these storm move across the northern Rockies, winds over our area will shift from the south to the west, and the air mass will dry. So while we may see some showers near the end of the work week, hot and dry weather is expected to return for the following weekend. For what its worth, longer-range weather forecast models do advertise a more substantial monsoonal pattern developing around mid-month.

We’ll see if this forecast stays consistent in my next weather narrative scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Strong cold front for later Monday

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Pleasant early afternoon temperatures around 70 F and mostly cloudy skies followed a light shower that passed through the Steamboat Springs area soon after noon on this Sunday. A strong cold front is expected later Monday, followed by a weakening cool front for later Tuesday, both of which may be accompanied with some precipitation. Mostly sunny skies return by midweek along with hot temperatures ahead of what would be our first monsoonal moisture surge of the season timed for Independence Day weekend.

The current unsettled weather is courtesy of the southern part of a storm that split earlier in the week and is moving through our area.

A strong cold front associated with a robust storm currently over the Great Basin (the Salt Lake City forecast office is predicting snow down to 8000′ tonight!) will pass through our area later Monday afternoon or evening. Mostly sunny skies, winds from the southwest and hot temperatures five to ten degrees above our average high of 78 F are expected ahead of the cold front, which may be accompanied by showers.

Much cooler temperatures five to ten degrees below average are expected Tuesday ahead of a weakening cool front for Tuesday afternoon or evening. While we should see sunny skies for some of Tuesday, clouds will increase and we may see a chance for some showers as the front passes through.

This may be the last cold front of this season as a ridge of high pressure to our east encroaches on our area. Mostly sunny skies are expected for Wednesday and Thursday, with temperatures warming from near average on Wednesday to five to ten degrees above average on Thursday.

As the ridge of high pressure continues to move westward, the North American Monsoon gets started, with moisture from the south tickling our area Thursday night and becoming more substantial by Friday. The air mass under the ridge of high pressure will be quite warm, though our temperatures will be moderated by the cloudier weather expected with the monsoon. Though daily widespread heavy rain is unlikely as discussed here, we’ll see a good chance of showers starting on Friday and lasting through the Independence Day weekend in the presence of increased atmospheric moisture.

While another Gulf of Alaska storm develops over that weekend, the summer ridge of high pressure over our area will keep the storm at bay, deflecting it across the northern Rockies. And further storms expected to move across the Gulf of Alaska after the weekend will follow a similar path. The main effect of these storm for our area will be to possibly interrupt the monsoonal moisture plume at times, though for what its worth, current longer-term forecasts have a reasonable stream of moisture lasting through at least mid-July.

I’ll have more details about the weather for Independence Day weekend in my next weather narrative scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Showers possible starting today and lasting through the weekend

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Temperatures in the upper seventies and mostly sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Thursday afternoon. There is a lot of interesting weather to our west, with some of that weather moving close enough to our area to produce chances for showers starting today and lasting through the weekend. Expect increasingly windy weather ahead of a significant cool down early next week as a strong but dry cold front passes through, followed by a return to hot temperatures as we head into the long Fourth of July weekend.

A storm to our west is in the process of splitting, with the northern portion of the split moving across our area later today and the southern part of the split moving over our area on Sunday. Starting this afternoon, we’ll have the possibility of afternoon and evening showers for the four days it takes the pieces of the storm to move across our area, with Friday having the best chance of showers. And Friday will likely be the coolest day of this four day period, with high temperatures close to our average of 77 F; otherwise expect hot temperatures in the eighties.

Meanwhile, a storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is mixing with the cold air from the North Pole, and is expected to form an impressively cold and strong storm in the Pacific Northwest by the end of the weekend. We should see the effects from this storm as soon as Sunday as winds increase, first from the west and then from the southwest as we see our last day with shower chances for around a week.

The storm is forecast to rotate through the Great Basin, with the business end of the storm being deflected to our northwest by a strong summer ridge of high pressure to our east. While it currently looks like we will see no precipitation from this system, we will see much cooler air as a couple of cool fronts move through.

There is weather forecast model uncertainty with respect to the timing of these fronts, but right now it looks like they may pass through later Monday and again later Tuesday, accompanied with lighter winds from the west. Most noticeable will be the cooler temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday five to ten degrees below average.

Temperatures will quickly rebound starting Thursday as the ridge of high pressure to our east moves westward and over our area through the long Fourth of July weekend. While that weekend is currently looking hot and dry, I see the first indications this summer of the North American Monsoon becoming established.

Generally, a monsoon is defined as a seasonal reversal of winds, and for us it means upper level winds from the south carrying moisture originally from the Gulf of Mexico toward our area. While that forecast is highly uncertain at this point, it is encouraging to see the monsoon signal in the weather forecast models at about the time we expect it to start. We’ll see if this signal is still present in my next weather narrative scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

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23 February 2021

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