Highest rain chances from today through Saturday

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Clouds and smoke from the Muddy Slide wildfire south of Stagecoach are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday morning. We’ll see cooler temperatures than during the past couple of weeks today as the clouds block the sun, along with a welcome chance of showers, though that looks higher on an even cooler Friday. A complicated storm system may keep the cool temperatures with a chance of showers around on Saturday and perhaps even on Sunday before drier air and warmer temperatures return to start the next work week.

Before we get to the forecast, the recent data from the long term climate weather station behind the high school has finally been published, and we broke three records for the date on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week when high temperatures of 91 F were reached on Tuesday and Wednesday and 93 F on Thursday. The State Climatologist did indicate that the station is designed for observing the long term climate, and data may not always be published in a timely fashion for a variety of reasons, but eventually it becomes available.

But the record high temperatures are gone for now as moisture has streamed northward from Mexico and is over our area. The moisture arrived in a very interesting and circuitous way; that dry cool front on Sunday was strong enough to push into Mexico and cause some strong thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday that injected substantial moisture into the atmosphere, and a low pressure area off the coast of California moved close enough to the coast yesterday so that the southerly and southwesterly winds ahead of the storm carried that Mexican moisture over our area.

Regardless how it got here, there will be the best chance of wetting rains today than we’ve had in a long time as most of what falls from the cloud will make it to the ground without evaporating in a no-longer dry lower atmosphere. But the precipitation will still be showery and hit or miss, though the chances of getting wet are higher than even. And due to energy continuing to eject out of the low pressure area overnight, there may be some precipitation tonight.

Our weather turns even more interesting tomorrow as a storm from the northern latitudes brings a cool front through our area tomorrow, perhaps as early as the morning. So chances for rain should be higher tomorrow as showers may focus along and behind the front, and temperatures will be cooler than today, likely staying below our average high of 77 F. And similar to the night before, there may be overnight showers as we head into Saturday. And in more good news as indicated by the smoke plume model on this website, the front looks to push the smoke currently over our area to the south for much improved air quality.

The last weather narrative talked about the possibility of the low pressure area off the California coast possibly merging with the northern latitude storm bringing our cool front tomorrow and the dissent among the weather forecast models about that scenario. As is often the case when models disagree, a compromise solution looks likely to occur that keeps the cool and unsettled weather around for Saturday as the storms partially merge. For those keeping score, I have to give kudos to the American GFS for latching onto the idea well ahead of the European ECMWF, even if it was too aggressive.

Some of the cooler and unsettled weather may hang around on Sunday, though to a far lesser extent than Saturday, and warmer and drier weather is forecast for the start of the work week. After that, forecasts have the high pressure over Bermuda that usually occurs around now (the Bermuda High) nosing into the southeast and areas to the west, and the clockwise flow around this feature may draw moisture from well to our south northward in a classic monsoonal pattern, though that signal is tenuous in the past few models runs and it is not clear how far north the moisture may be carried.

Let’s hope the cooler and wetter weather decreases the activity of the Muddy Slide wildfire, as well as the Sylvan wildfire south of Eagle, and stay tuned for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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