Small storm for Monday with larger storm possible next weekend

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Cloudy skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon with a temperature of 28 F, which is one degree above our average. Clouds will stick around today ahead of our next small storm tonight before dry weather with a mix of some sun and clouds is forecast for the work week. However, an extended unsettled pattern with several possibly significant storms is advertised to start around next weekend.

The northern hemisphere atmosphere is in transition as pieces of very cold air from the North Pole and Siberia move southward. Weather forecast models often struggle with major pattern changes like this, and while the storms usually come, strength and timing are big uncertainties. Generally though, the ridge of high pressure that has been over the West is forecast to move westward and take up residence closer to the Aleutian Islands, allowing low pressure and storminess to take its place as Pacific energy and moisture ride over the top of the ridge and affect the West Coast.

Currently, a storm that crossed the Pacific Northwest coast last night has split, with the southern portion of the storm forecast to form an eddy off the northern Baja coast by Tuesday. The northern part of the split storm will itself split as it moves over our area tonight, with the southern piece moving southwestward across the Great Basin and joining the Baja eddy by midweek.

Despite the complicated weather pattern, it does appear we will see enough moisture and energy tonight for 3-6” to be reported on the Monday morning report, with snowfall starting by early this evening and continuing overnight. Clouds will hang around on Monday with possible afternoon snow showers leaving as much as another inch or two.

Dry weather with a mix of sun and clouds will be with us from Tuesday through Thursday before another storm moves southward along the West Coast and dislodges the Baja eddy. While the majority of that storm will stay south of our area, it looks like a somewhat stationary front will set up over the Great Basin and extend into our area on Friday and Saturday.

There are a lot of moving pieces that make timing and strength uncertain, but right it looks like we could see light snow around Friday with more persistent and heavier snowfall rates on Saturday. Several more Pacific storms are lined up behind it, with weather forecast models generally agreeing that we will see one or two more significant storms for the last week of January.

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My next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon should not be missed as I’ll have snowfall guesses for the weekend as our weather pattern finally turns more active.

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