A Tale of Two Storms

Friday, June 5, 2020

While Steamboat Springs is currently seeing mostly sunny skies and our warmest day of the year so far, with a 4 pm temperature of 85 F this Friday afternoon, big changes are in store as two storms approach our area. The first will be warmer and produce a wet Saturday, while the second is much drier and very cold, and may produce snowflakes down to the Yampa Valley floor Monday evening.

The first storm, currently entering Arizona, is actually the southern eddy of the storm that brought a weak cool front through our area a few days ago on Wednesday. The storm has become quite wet as it loitered off the California coast, and will be moving over our area on Saturday. Some showers may break out tonight, most likely along the Continental Divide, but expect a cloudy start to Saturday with showers beginning by noon and possibly strong storms after noon, along with breezy to windy southwesterly to southerly flow. And, as insisted on by the American GFS for a week now, it looks like most of western Colorado will get a good soaking from this, with a third to a half inch of rain expected through the day.

With last night’s flow under the Fifth Street bridge at 3000 cfs, (availabe on the SnowAlarm home page under the ‘Compared to Average’ heading, and almost 4 feet of snow containing almost 2 feet of liquid water still present at the Tower Snotel near the top of Buffalo Pass, heavy rainfall may create some localized flooding concerns.

It does look like we see rapid drying behind the storm for Saturday night as the second storm approaches.

This second storm has spent the last week traversing the northern Pacific, and has become very cold as it mixed with the still-cold air from the North Pole. Currently in the Gulf of Alaska, it will keep the first storm moving to our east as we begin Sunday with mostly sunny skies and breezy southwesterly winds as the storm passes through the Pacific Northwest. Some energy is forecast to eject over the northwest corner of Colorado and bring the initial surge of cool air over our area by Sunday evening, with showers currently forecast to stay mostly to our northwest. The eventual track of this lobe of ejecting energy may bring the showers over our area or keep Sunday dry.

Though the parent storm is forecast to travel along the northern border of the U.S., cold air will continue pouring in to our area from Sunday night through Tuesday morning as the southern part of the storm rotates through, along with windy westerly flow on Monday turning to less windy northwesterly flow on Tuesday.

Below freezing temperatures are possible for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so be sure to protect sensitive vegetation. And though this cold storm starts dry, there may be enough moisture for snowflakes down the to Yampa Valley floor over the Monday night period. Weather forecast models disagree on the available moisture, though, with the usually drier ECMWF, but not in this case, predicting a couple of inches of accumulating snowfall on Mt. Werner by Tuesday morning.

High temperatures will be ten to twenty degrees below our average of 70 F, with highs in the fifties for Monday and Tuesday, sixties for Wednesday and seventies returning for Thursday. After the possible snowflakes Monday night, mostly sunny skies are expected for most of the week starting on Tuesday.

There is a chance the storm may revisit us late in the work week as cold air invades the Great Plains and areas east, though at this point it looks to mostly affect areas to the east of the Continental Divide. But lots of weather to get through before that, and my next weather narrative scheduled for Sunday will fine-tune details associated with the cold air outbreak for the beginning of the upcoming work week.

Thursday forecast moved to Friday

Thursday, June 4, 2020

I will be issuing my next weather narrative on Friday due to time limitations I’ve run into today.

Weather highlights I’ll be talking about tomorrow include a warm and wet storm for Saturday, followed by a cold and dry storm to start to the work week, both accompanied by quite windy conditions.

And the cold storm will be notably so, with temperatures cold enough for snowflakes in the Yampa Valley during overnight and early mornings if there is enough moisture around. Make plans to protect sensitive vegetation for both Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Warm weather sticks around for the upcoming week

Sunday, May 31, 2020

After a couple of quick showers passed through Steamboat Springs early this Sunday afternoon, temperatures are once again approaching the eighty degree mark. And incidentally, this past Friday saw our first over-eighty degree day of the year when the temperature reached 81 F at 5:35 pm local time. More of the same is forecast for most of the upcoming week, with light showers possible on some days, before a possibly wet storm may move over our area around next weekend.

Though I thought in my last forecast that yesterday and yesterday night would have the best chance of showers this weekend, the moisture present on Saturday produced just clouds over our area, with the showers waiting till midday today as some weak upper-level forcing approached later than originally forecast. There may be an opportunity for another shower later today or tonight before the wave departs our area and drier air moves overhead.

As a ridge of high pressure sits over the Rockies, the southern part of a storm that moved through the Gulf of Alaska earlier this weekend will form an eddy cutoff from the Pacific jet stream on Monday off the California coast. The storm will loiter off the coast for the work week until it is forced inland by a second Gulf of Alaska storm around next weekend.

Meanwhile, the northern part of the storm that left the California eddy will cross the northern Rockies around midweek, and our winds will turn to be more from the west than from the current southwest. While high temperatures will remain ten to fifteen degrees above our current average of 68 F for most of the work week, except possibly for Wednesday when a weak and dry cool front grazes our area, moisture will remain rather sparse. So there may be a spotty shower or two this work week, though wetting rains may be hard to come by until the California eddy is forced inland and moves near our area early in the weekend.

Though weather forecast models agree the storm will be deflected to its northeast as it moves inland by a rebuilding ridge of high pressure over the Rockies, they disagree on the proximity of the storm to our area and the amount of moisture. The European ECMWF, which proved more accurate for this weekend’s weather, is much drier than the American GFS.

Both models agree, however, that dry air will overspread our area from the Desert Southwest for the remainder of next weekend and that the second Gulf of Alaska storm will move inland early in the work week. That stronger storm is advertised to bring cooler temperatures with a chance of rain by midweek, but stay tuned to my next weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for the evolving details on these upcoming two storms.

Summery weather week ahead

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sunny skies and and temperatures in the upper seventies are observed in Steamboat Springs on this Thursday mid-afternoon. More summery weather is on tap for the upcoming week, and while today will be dry, most of the following days will have chances for at least afternoon showers.

The week of summery weather ahead is courtesy of a large ridge of high pressure currently sitting over the West and extending into eastern Alaska. A storm has become cutoff from the jet stream and is currently spinning off the northern Baja coast. This storm will be displaced tomorrow by a lobe of energy breaking away from a large and cold storm in the Gulf of Alaska, forcing the Baja storm to travel north along the west side of the western ridge of high pressure.

While almost all of the storm will be deflected well west of our area, leaving our temperatures mostly unaffected and ten to fifteen degrees above our average high of 66 F, the southerly flow associated with the storm will bring moisture to our south northward. So we should see a chance of afternoon storms for Friday and Saturday.

A piece of energy is forecast to break away from the storm and move over our area Saturday night, perhaps keeping showers going into Sunday morning.

Drier air briefly invades our area from the Desert Southwest on Sunday for another warm day that is currently looking dry.

Meanwhile, the lobe of energy from the Gulf of Alaska storm, after spinning off the West Coast for a couple of days, is forecast to approach the coast and make landfall around midweek. Southerly flow ahead of the storm will once again bring moisture from our south northward, increasing our shower chances again starting Monday afternoon.

And similar to this weekend, pieces of energy ejecting from the storm will wander over our area at times, bringing better chances of heavier and more widespread rain showers for the work week. There is some uncertainty with respect to the track of the storm and how quickly it moves inland, but right now it looks to affect us with more than a grazing blow sometime around the end of the work week or the following weekend. Stay tuned for my Sunday afternoon weather narrative for an update on this possibly wet storm.

Summery weather returns after Memorial Day

Sunday, May 24, 2020

While I did observe some snowflakes mixed in with light rain early this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs, the cool morning temperatures are moderating as the sun peeks through the clouds this afternoon. We will still see a chance of afternoon showers today and tomorrow with the well below average temperatures today eventually ending up well above average by next weekend. The warming trend will be briefly interrupted midweek as a cool front grazes our area and brings a chance of showers on Wednesday.

The cold storm that is bringing today’s unsettled weather is mostly affecting the Front Range, though it’s always notable when snowflakes are observed in town this late in May. We may see some showers this afternoon and evening as another surge of cool air moves across this evening, but the bulk of storm will stay to our east. Though temperatures have warmed into the upper forties, our high temperature for today will likely be fifteen degrees below our average of 66 F.

Memorial Day will be much nicer, with a mostly sunny morning and high temperatures warming to a bit below average, though there is a chance of some afternoon showers.

The current storm is forecast to become cut off from the main jet stream Monday night and form an eddy that will bring an extended period of heavy rains to eastern Texas through the week. But we should see a very pleasant and dry Tuesday with temperatures in the seventies.

Meanwhile, some Pacific energy and moisture is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Tuesday and head along the northern Rockies around midweek. We should see a chance of showers on Wednesday as weak cool front is forecast to graze our area in the afternoon or overnight.

Behind this passing storm, a ridge of high pressure is expected to amplify over the interior West through the coming weekend, likely allowing high temperatures to reach into the eighties for the first time this season as soon as Friday. While we will have some moisture around for some clouds, and perhaps a shower on a pleasant Thursday with high temperatures in the seventies, dry weather is expected for Friday and most of Saturday.

Additionally, a storm currently loitering well off the southern West Coast is forecast to travel northeastward along the west side of the ridge of high pressure, eventually crossing the northern or central California coast around mid-weekend. There is the possibility that moisture will be drawn northward over our area in the southerly flow ahead of the storm by then, though weather forecast models are not in agreement that there will be enough for showers. I hope to know about this possibility by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

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11 April 2018

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