Wintry weather is here now but departs for the weekend

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The town of Steamboat Springs woke up to another 1 - 2” of snow this Thursday morning, on top of the 4 - 6” that we woke up to yesterday morning. Temperatures are currently in the low to mid-thirties under cloudy skies early this Thursday afternoon, with another round of snow showers forecast for later today and tonight. While the snows should end by Friday morning, the cold temperatures will stick around for another day, even as the sun returns. But temperatures will warm under sunny skies through the weekend, especially after the snow melts.

An unseasonably cold air mass is sitting over the western half of the U.S. thanks to a couple of storms that originated in the Bering Sea and developed in the Gulf of Alaska, with air sourced from the North Pole. Yesterday, the high temperature at the Bob Adams airport was 33 F, over twenty-five degrees below our average of 60 F, with not much warming expected for today. Snow showers should restart later today as the final push of cold air moves across, and they should taper off after midnight before ending by Friday morning.

We should see increasing sunshine as Friday wears on, but a lot of the sun’s energy will go into melting the fresh snow rather than warming the air, so expect some warming tomorrow, but not a lot, as temperatures are expected to get into the forties.

While another storm forms in the Bering Sea and develops in the Gulf of Alaska this weekend, the warm and strong southwesterly flow ahead of the storm will force a downstream ridge of high pressure to strengthen and move overhead. We’ll see lots of sunshine for the weekend, and the warming that results will depend on how quickly the snow melts. We could see temperatures around fifty on Saturday and in the fifties by Sunday as seasonable fall weather returns.

The next incoming storm from the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to split as it makes landfall along the West Coast late in the weekend. Weather forecast models are struggling with the path and strength of the storm, but increasing clouds on a seasonable Monday in advance of the storm are a good bet. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for details about possible precipitation on Tuesday.

Wintry weather this week

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Temperatures are in the low forties this Sunday noon in the Steamboat Springs area as rain showers at the lower elevations and snow showers at the higher elevations taper off. We’ll see some peeks of sun between the diminishing showers later today and more sun tomorrow before the first of two wintry storms invade our area starting Tuesday. The first storm will bring cold and wet weather through Wednesday, along with several inches of snow possible on the Yampa Valley floor followed by the second wintry storm on Thursday.

The weekend storm which began Friday afternoon produced about 2” of snow at mid-mountain, as shown by the latest Steamboat mid-mountain Powdercam, and about 4.5” up top, as shown by the Sunshine Peak Powedercam. With snow levels around 8500′, the town received between four tenths and a half inch of rainfall as of this morning, and the rain and snow showers should taper off through the day as the storm vacates the area.

Though we will see a brief reprieve to the wet weather on a mostly sunny and warmer Monday, an unseasonably cold and wet storm currently affecting the Pacific Northwest coast is forecast to cross the Great Basin on Monday and bring cold and wet weather to our area starting on Tuesday.

Most of the precipitation will be along and behind the cold front, due between noon and sunset on Tuesday, with snow at the higher elevations descending down to the valley floor by later in the day. The center of the storm is forecast to pass almost directly overhead Tuesday night, with good snowfall predicted behind the center of the storm as we see our favorable cold, wet and unstable flow from the northwest. Town will likely see its first accumulating snowfall of the season, especially on grassy surfaces, with several inches possible by Wednesday morning, and around 4-8” of snowfall up top.

Travel over Rabbit Ears Pass may be difficult at times from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning as the storm barrels through our area. Showers will taper off during the day Wednesday at the lower elevations, though may persist through sunset at the higher elevations.

But they will begin again by Thursday morning as another storm is forecast to push through during the day. This one will not be as strong as the early week one, but will still be cold and bring more snow showers, with further accumulations very likely at the higher elevations but more uncertain at the valley floor.

High temperatures are forecast to dive to the low forties on Tuesday and fall even further to the upper thirties on Wednesday and Thursday, which is over twenty degrees below our average of 61 F and closer to temperatures observed in late November rather than mid-October!

The storm is forecast to end by Friday morning, with drying and warming headed into next weekend. Enjoy the storm, and I’ll have a recap of the snow amounts in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon, and discuss whether a nice weekend is still in the forecast.

Showers to start the weekend

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Temperatures are in the mid-sixties this Thursday afternoon in the Steamboat Springs area under partly cloudy skies. Our recent stretch of very nice fall weather is going to be at least interrupted starting on Friday with showers that may extend through Saturday before we see a short reprieve to end the weekend.

An elongated and southwest oriented area of low pressure is currently off the West Coast while another storm is brewing off the Aleutian Islands. The first storm will interact with several waves of upstream energy between the storms, with a couple of cool fronts expected Friday and Saturday afternoons.

Showers are forecast to begin Friday afternoon, perhaps soon after noon, as energy and moisture eject out ahead of the consolidating West Coast storm in increasingly breezy flow out of the southwest. The front is expected later in the afternoon, with showery weather decreasing Friday night.

But more showers are expected on Saturday in advance of a secondary surge of cool air that is forecast to arrive Saturday afternoon. We actually see our favorable moist and unstable flow out of the northwest behind the front, so showers may continue overnight and into Sunday morning as the storm vacates our area.

The weather will clear later Sunday, and Monday should be nice, but that Aleutian Island storm is forecast to mix with air from the North Pole and strengthen as it moves across the Gulf of Alaska during the weekend. I’ll certainly have more on this big weather-maker in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon, but early indications are wet and cold by Tuesday, with snow likely down to the Yampa Valley floor by midweek.

Nice weather for the most of the work week with a small storm Wednesday

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Temperatures around sixty degrees and bluebird skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon. We have a couple of gorgeous fall days coming up today, tomorrow, and most of Tuesday before a small storm grazes our area for an unsettled Wednesday. The weather looks to turn nice again for Thursday and possibly Friday before we may see some effects from a large and complex storm as soon as the weekend.

Currently, there is an eddy of low pressure off the West Coast, a large storm in the Gulf of Alaska and a ridge of high pressure over the West, with the exception of a small and dry eddy over southwest Utah that will not affect our weather. Expect warm and dry days with little wind thru Tuesday, with high temperatures near 70 F today and likely above that for Monday and Tuesday, which will be five to ten degrees above our average of 64 F.

Early in the work week, the Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to move eastward, with the southwest flow ahead of the storm forcing that eddy off the West Coast inland. There may be some clouds moving overhead later Tuesday ahead of the small storm, with the weather turning cooler and unsettled for Wednesday with likely showers and breezy southwest winds.

Coincidentally, the Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to make landfall along the Pacific Northwest coast and elongate to the southwest along the West Coast, with additional waves of energy and cold air keeping the large storm active through and likely past the weekend. Ahead of that storm, the atmosphere dries out and temperatures rise again for Thursday and Friday in the breezy southwesterly flow. Expect lots of sun on Thursday and increasing clouds on Friday with possibly showers late in the day depending upon the evolution of the storm.

Be sure to get out and enjoy the fall colors this week, the earlier the better, as the increasing breezes starting Wednesday will accelerate the end of what has turned out to be a spectacular color show. And stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where the evolution of that Gulf of Alaska storm will be discussed and whether it may lead to a period of active weather starting as soon as the weekend.

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25 December 2020

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