Significant snow still likely with colder temperatures and drier snow after midnight

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Steamboat Springs area is seeing a rain-snow mix in town with temperatures a few degrees above freezing and about 3” of snow on the mid-mountain and upper mountain powdercams with colder temperatures in the twenties. More wet snow is forecast for the higher elevations through midnight while the lower elevations will struggle with a rain-snow mix until this evening. A cold front will move through our area between midnight tonight and sunrise tomorrow, creating low-density powder that will quickly accumulate and create difficult travel conditions over Rabbit Ears Pass. Snowfall should wind down through Friday with the coldest temperatures of the season so far expected for Saturday morning.

After a disappointing storm that split to our south on Monday night and Tuesday and produced only 2” of snow at mid-mountain and summit when I called for 4-8”, some left behind energy did move overhead last night with an inch of snow falling by today’s morning ski report.

But there is still hope for significant snow from this last in a series of storms that is currently moving across the Great Basin. The winds from the southwest ahead of the storm are carrying very moist air overhead, with wet snow forecast to continue accumulating above 9000′ or so and more of the rain-snow mix down in town.

Temperatures should cool a bit as we head through sunset, so hopefully we see more snow down in town by then, but the real snow likely won’t start until the strong cold front associated with the storm moves through after midnight tonight. Snowfall rates could exceed an inch per hour at times as the front moves through, the atmosphere destabilizes and our winds shift to be from our favorable northwest direction. I would expect the bulk of the 6-12” expected at mid-mountain by the Friday morning report to fall during this time.

Snows will become more showery Friday morning, though some showers could be moderate to heavy at times in the afternoon as a trailing wave passes over our area. We could see another 3-6” of light and fluffy powder that falls on a relatively cold Friday with high temperatures in town barely reaching 20 F, around ten degrees below our average of 29 F. And a relatively frigid Saturday morning will see low temperatures reach to or even below zero, which will feel unreasonably cold after our last couple of weeks of warm temperatures, but will only be modestly below our average of 6 F.

The sun should return on Saturday and temperatures should warm closer to average in the afternoon as winds shift to be more from the west behind the departing storm and warmer and drier air is carried overhead. Even more sun and warmer temperatures in the mid-thirties are expected for Sunday.

While the warmer and dry weather is forecast to last through the beginning of the work week, another storm is forecast for around midweek. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll attempt to dial in the details of our next storm, which also might be significant.

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23 November 2021

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