Pattern change on track with cold and significant snow on tap

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Temperatures are currently in the upper forties under mostly sunny skies early this Sunday afternoon in Steamboat Springs, but they won’t get much warmer as winds have just increased as the first in a series of cold fronts expected this work week moves through. While we won’t see any precipitation from this grazing storm today, the next storm is far more promising for Monday night and Tuesday. There may be a break in the snowfall on Wednesday, or not, ahead of our best winter-like storm of the season so far that is expected to bring relatively frigid temperatures and significant snowfall to our area between Wednesday night and Saturday morning.

The ridge of high pressure that brought such unseasonably warm, dry and pleasant weather to our area over the last couple of weeks is forecast to be assaulted by a series of incoming Pacific storms. The first has just brought a grazing cool front through our area, with the next expected Monday afternoon or evening.

Ahead of that, look for cooler daytime high temperatures on Monday in the thirties, which will still be five or so degrees above our average high of 30 F. Winds will stay breezy out of the northwest and west as we see some sun to start the day, but clouds ahead of the next storm should encroach by the afternoon. Snowfall should break out by the evening, with the best snows likely between midnight Monday through Tuesday morning, with snowfall tapering off during the day. We could see 4-8” of snow at the top of Mt. Werner, with several inches of snow down in the Yampa Valley by Tuesday afternoon. Travel may be difficult at times over Rabbit Ears Pass, especially under the heavier showers.

Part of the Monday night storm is forecast to be left behind over California for a day before it is forced eastward over our area by the next very promising storm currently developing in the Bering Sea. So after a short break in the unsettled weather Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the left-behind piece of energy may restart snow showers Wednesday afternoon and overnight as it moves over our area, though accumulations are expected to be minor.

The Bering Sea storm has already incorporated some sub-tropical moisture and is forecast to continue mixing with cold air from around the North Pole as it heads into the Gulf of Alaska. The end result is a cold and wet storm that may bring significant snowfall to our area from later Thursday into Saturday morning.

There is considerable uncertainty in the snowfall amounts since the storm will interact with several hard-to-time waves of upstream energy, and that will affect the track of the storm and whether or not a cold front stalls over our area Thursday night. Regardless of the snowfall amounts, the cold air associated with the storm is virtually assured, with high temperatures on Friday and Saturday likely in the mid to low twenties, almost thirty degrees below where we stood yesterday!

We could see impressive snowfall amounts later in the week, but there could also be changes to the storm so hopes should be tempered. Depending on the evolution of the storm, I may move my regularly scheduled weather narrative from Thursday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon, so keep an eye out for my coming snowfall guesses for the end-of-workweek storm.

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23 November 2021

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