Strong and mostly dry cold front arrives Monday afternoon

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Mostly sunny skies with temperatures of 35 F at the Bob Adams airport and 21 F near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area late this Sunday morning. Plenty of sun and warming temperatures can be expected for the rest of today and Monday morning before a strong, windy and moisture-starved cold front passes through our area Monday afternoon. After a dry and cool Tuesday, warming temperatures are forecast through the work week and next weekend.

The Steamboat Ski Resort reported 4.5” at mid-mountain and 7” up top yesterday morning thanks to a couple of storm cells that passed through late Friday. The first cell dropped 4” of snowfall between 4:40 pm and 6:40 pm on the Steamboat Powdercam and the second an additional 3” between 8:40 pm and 9:40 pm. These storm sells are similar to summertime thunderstorms in that they are localized and capable of hefty precipitation rates over short periods of time; in fact my weather station recorded a lighting flash as the first cell approached which was indicative of the unstable spring atmosphere.

So after a cool day yesterday, we should see some sun and clouds with temperatures around our average of 46 F today. Monday will start sunny, though the cold front I talked about in the last weather narrative will arrive earlier, and unfortunately drier than earlier advertised, and is now expected on Monday afternoon. The storm will still be windy, possibly affecting lift operations at the Steamboat Ski Area, with falling temperatures Monday afternoon and snow showers starting first at the higher elevations and then descending to the valley floor by around sunset. It now appears that the bulk of the 1-4” of snowfall expected at mid-mountain will be over by around midnight and will be followed by a brisk Tuesday with some sun and clouds and temperatures ten to fifteen degrees below average.

Sunny skies with temperatures approaching average are forecast for Wednesday, with continued sunny skies and temperatures within five degrees of sixty expected by Thursday and lasting through the next weekend.

Chances for additional snowfall after next weekend and for the closing week of the Steamboat Ski Resort are uncertain at this time. There is a storm that weather forecast models agree will develop in the Gulf of Alaska by the end of the work week and approach the West Coast during next weekend, though it is not clear if the storm loiters off the coast during closing week as depicted by the European ECMWF of moves inland like the American GFS. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon when our weather for closing week should be in better focus.

Nice weather between Friday and Tuesday storms

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Steamboat Springs area has seen periods of sun and snow this Thursday morning ahead of a storm centered on Friday. Nice weather returns after lingering snow showers on Saturday morning before an unseasonably cold storm is forecast for around Tuesday.

The current morning snow showers are in advance of a storm that will continue to produce snow showers for the rest of today and through Friday and into Saturday morning. Currently, the bulk of the storm is broadly draped across the western states with an ejecting piece of energy and moisture bringing the snow showers to our area today, most prevalent at the higher elevations.

Another piece of incoming energy will split as it is incorporated into the storm, with the southern piece ushering the bulk of the storm through the southern Great Basin and eventually southern Colorado tomorrow. It does look like there will be enough energy and moisture for continued snow showers through the rest of today and some of tonight, and I would expect 2-5” of snow to be reported by Friday morning.

The northern part of the split will turn our winds to be first from the west around noon on Friday and then our favorable northwest direction by the afternoon and overnight. While the snowfall looks to linger into Saturday morning, or even the afternoon at the higher elevations, most of the accumulating snowfall should be over by Saturday morning when we could see an additional 2-5” on the morning ski report.

As discussed in the last weather narrative, the current storm did indeed leave behind a chunk of energy spinning north of Hawaii earlier in the week, and this will be incorporated into our next incoming storm for around Tuesday which originated in Siberia. This makes the storm unseasonably cold, with current temperatures at about 10,000′ in the -20 F range! But the frigid temperatures will moderate as the storm crosses the Gulf of Alaska through the weekend and mixes with the left-over storm north of Hawaii, so while the storm will be certainly be cold by the time it makes it to our area, we won’t see the current sub-zero temperatures at mountain-top.

Ahead of that storm and behind the Friday storm, we’ll see clouds linger on Saturday, especially at the higher elevations, for a cool day with high temperatures five to ten degrees below our average of 45 F. But lots of sun is forecast for Sunday and Monday with high temperatures in the Yampa Valley on Sunday up to ten degrees above average and an even warmer Monday with temperatures possibly approaching the sixty degree mark.

The Tuesday storm is currently looking significant, with windy conditions likely ahead of the front on Monday and with the front on Monday night. I’ll hold off guessing at snow amounts for a storm five days away, but a strong cold front is likely which will be a shock after possibly the warmest day of the year so far on Monday. Right now, the bulk of the snow looks to fall during Monday night and Tuesday morning, but changes in the speed of the storm will change the period of heaviest snowfall. A trailing wave will keep the cool weather around for Wednesday, along with additional snow showers, before warm and dry springtime weather is forecast to return in a big way for the end of the work week.

Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon when I should have a much better idea of how cold and wet the currently promising Tuesday storm will be.

Winter returns after the first day of spring

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Mostly sunny skies have settled over the Steamboat Springs area early this Saturday afternoon after some clouds this morning. And to commemorate the first day of spring, which occurred at 3:37 am this morning as the sun crossed the equator and ventured into the northern hemisphere, we find warm temperatures of 54 F at the Bob Adams airport and 38 F at the top of the Steamboat Ski Area. But spring turns back to winter tonight as a strong cold front blasts through our area, starting a stretch of cool and unsettled weather that may be punctuated by a significant storm near the end of next week.

A storm currently crossing the Great Basin will bring a cold front through our area late this evening with periods of moderate to heavy snow. While the storm is currently elongating to the southwest and weakening as it approaches our area, additional upstream energy will reinvigorate the storm as it passes through, with 3-6” of snow possible by the Sunday morning report. The storm will also slow as additional upstream energy is incorporated, and anther 1-4” of snowfall is expected during the day Sunday and into the evening.

An additional storm currently traveling through the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to quickly follow on Tuesday, and it is not clear if snowfall stops or just becomes very light and showery on Monday behind the Sunday storm and ahead of the Tuesday storm, especially at the higher elevations.

The Tuesday storm is forecast to split around our area, and while we will see at least light snowfall from Monday night through Tuesday night, forecast amounts are uncertain. My guess is that we could see 2-5” during the day Tuesday and overnight which would be reported on Wednesday morning.

Yet another storm currently approaching the Aleutian Islands is forecast to strengthen and split as it approaches the Gulf of Alaska, leaving behind a large chunk of energy north of Hawaii which may become a player in our weather sometime after next weekend.

But enough energy remains with the storm as it passes through the Gulf and mixes with cold air from the Yukon to make it a possibly significant storm for our area near the end of the work week and into the following weekend.

While it does appear we will see a break in the weather between the Tuesday storm and the end-of-work-week storm, the speed and evolution of the late-week storm will determine whether that break lasts for only part of Wednesday, or into Thursday as well.

While this weather narrative was published a day earlier than usual due to uncertainty around tomorrow’s storm, stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss what may be a significant storm heading into next weekend.

Springlike weather lasts through Saturday

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Temperatures are 28 F at the Bob Adams airport and 24 F near the top of Mt. Werner under mostly sunny skies this Thursday noon. More warming temperatures on Friday and Saturday will be followed by a cold front Saturday night which will return our area to cool and unsettled weather that could last through the work week and into the following weekend.

Spring fever is back in the air to close out the work week as a ridge of high pressure moves across the Rockies ahead of a strong storm currently just off the Pacific Northwest coast. Some clouds will pass by today, with high temperatures expected to be around our average of 42 F, and more sun on Friday should propel high temperatures into the fifties.

The Pacific Northwest storm is forecast to split as it crosses the coast tomorrow, with the northern part of the split bringing first clouds and breezy winds from the southwest during the day on another fifty degree Saturday, and then a cold front Saturday night. It does appear we will see a period of moderate to heavy snows when the front blasts through, with 3-6” of snow possible for the Sunday morning report if the current timing holds.

The evolution of the southern part of the split is still uncertain, with another upstream storm forecast to quickly force the southern piece eastward and near our area later Sunday. Weather forecast models are struggling with the organization of the southern piece, as well as the strength of the incoming storm, so it is unclear if snow will continue to fall during the day Sunday and Sunday night, like the American GFS or not, like the European ECMWF.

More forecast uncertainty plagues the work week weather forecast as the American GFS brings that next storm over our area on Tuesday while the European ECMWF has that storm moving southwest of our area. This trend continues for the next incoming storm, so we could see chances of snow for each day of the upcoming week if the storms pass near our area or much drier weather if the storms stay to our southwest.

Interestingly, both of these weather forecast models agree on a cold and wet storm for around the following Friday or the weekend. So enjoy the next several springlike days, and note that due to the large forecast uncertainty after the cold front Saturday night, I may publish the regular Sunday afternoon weather narrative a day earlier than usual on Saturday afternoon.

Nice weather returns after midweek

Sunday, March 14, 2021

After a windy morning with snow showers, some peeks of sun are over the Steamboat Springs area on this still windy Sunday afternoon. A wave of energy and moisture rotating around that massive storm to our east will approach our area from the north Monday morning and bring continued snow showers through the day. Another much smaller storm passes south of our area on Wednesday, though we will still see a chance of some light snow showers later Tuesday and parts of Wednesday. Much warmer and dry weather returns for Thursday through most of Saturday before another possibly significant storm is currently advertised to start near the end of next weekend.

The Steamboat Ski Resort reported 5” of new snow at mid-mountain and 6” up top this morning, with an additional 1.5” falling at mid-mountain as of 1 pm and 3” up top, regardless of what the wind-scoured Powdercam and Mid-mountain Powdercam indicated. While the storm was slow to get going, a standout from the ongoing storm early this afternoon includes a total of 31”, and counting, near Aspen Springs by Black Hawk.

Snow showers will end for a brief time this evening before picking up again during Monday thanks to a lobe of energy spinning around the storm to our east. We could see 2-5” between sunrise and sunset on Monday which would be reported on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, a stretched incoming storm currently along the Pacific Northwest coast is forecast to split and form an eddy on Monday that moves down the Sierras and crosses the Desert Southwest on Tuesday. This storm looked far more promising when it was forecast to stay intact as discussed in last Thursday’s weather narrative, but now that southern eddy looks to be too far south to bring significant snow to our area. However, in an interesting meteorological dance, a piece of the current storm will break away to its west and be incorporated into the eddy later Tuesday, and this will bring the possibility of light snow showers later Tuesday and some of Wednesday, with minor accumulations.

Springlike weather returns for Thursday, Friday and Saturday as a ridge of high pressure moves through the Rockies ahead of another major storm forecast to develop in the Gulf of Alaska during the work week. We’ll see lots of sun, along with some clouds and high temperatures near our average of 42 F on Thursday, and ten or even more degrees above average on Friday and Saturday.

The next storm has the possibility of being significant, though there are large differences between the weather forecast models, as is expected a week out. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details on this storm and the weather it may bring to our area.

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23 November 2021

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