Sunday, October 24, 2021
After a rainy start to the day in Steamboat Springs, skies have cleared and temperatures have warmed to around fifty degrees this Sunday mid-afternoon. Warm and windy weather is expected on Monday ahead of a strong and complex storm that is forecast to bring rain that turns to snow on Tuesday. Showery weather will hang around behind the departing storm on Wednesday, and possibly some of Thursday before sunny and warmer weather closes out the work week.
Some energy ejecting out ahead of a monster storm currently affecting the West Coast brought the unsettled weather to our area yesterday afternoon and last night, with a tenth of an inch or two of liquid precipitation around town and an inch or two of snow at the higher elevations. This storm developed in the Gulf of Alaska and is currently bringing excessive precipitation and high winds to much of the West Coast. In fact, due to the rapid intensification of the storm, it is called a bomb cyclone, which technically means that the central pressure of the storm, or cyclone, has dropped at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.
That storm is forecast to break apart into a couple of pieces, with one such piece moving across the Great Basin on Monday while another piece travels into Canada. The Great Basin piece of the storm is forecast to bring a cold front through our area Tuesday morning, and ahead of that winds will be increasing from the southwest. So Monday should be mostly sunny, windy and warm as air from the Desert Southwest is carried overhead, and may be the last day of sixty degree weather for the season.
Impressive moisture will accompany the Great Basin storm, and we should see good rain showers at the lower elevations Tuesday morning turning to snow by the afternoon, and all snow at the higher elevations. The storm is expected to split as it moves over our area, which adds some forecast uncertainty, but right now the bulk of the storm is expected to be past our area by Tuesday night. We could see 1-4” of snow down at the Yampa Valley floor by Tuesday night with 3-6” or more at the higher elevations. Travel will likely be difficult at times almost all of Tuesday, especially over Rabbit Ears Pass.
However, our favorable cool, moist and unstable flow from the northwest behind the storm will keep snow showers going through Wednesday and possibly into Thursday. Light accumulations are possible at the higher elevations, though the showers will become lighter, more intermittent and more confined to the higher elevations as the storm continues moving to the east.
A transient ridge of high pressure is then forecast to move and build overhead by Friday and into the weekend for warmer and dry weather as another storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska. Weather forecast models agree that some of that storm will eventually make its way toward our area, though it is not clear if that is later in the weekend or soon thereafter. I’ll certainly have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.