A lot of cold and a little bit of snow

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area have warmed into the mid-teens in town and mid-twenties near the top of Mt. Werner under bluebird skies this Sunday noon. While Monday will start out similar to the last several sunny days, a series of relatively dry cold fronts will pass through the area from Monday afternoon through Thursday. While precipitation will be hard to come by, with our best chances between Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the cold is all but certain as temperatures start a modest decline by Monday afternoon before falling into the basement by midweek.

A ridge of high pressure is currently over the West Coast while a vortex of cold air extends from Baffin Bay west of Greenland southward along the East Coast. While the East digs out of the high-impact Nor’easter from yesterday, we’ll enjoy another gorgeous winter day in the Rockies with afternoon high temperatures approaching or even exceeding the freezing mark at all elevations.

We’ll probably see another sub-zero night in the Yampa Valley as the clear skies allow the temperature inversion to reform, but we should see some clouds by Monday afternoon after a sunny morning as the first in a series of relatively dry cold fronts pass through. There may be some snowflakes around Monday night and early Tuesday morning, but no accumulations are expected.

While the West Coast ridge of high pressure will be temporarily vanquished by the Pacific storm, it is forecast to reform and strengthen from south of the Aleutian Islands northward toward the Arctic Circle early in the work week. This will allow the bitterly cold air from central and eastern Canada to move down the eastern periphery of the ridge and bring frigid temperatures to our area by midweek.

While it appears the Front Range will see the most snowfall thanks to the easterly winds associated with the cold air surges, we may see some light snowfall from Tuesday through Wednesday nights, with an optimistic 2-5” possible. But the big story will be the cold, as temperatures drop precipitously on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday and Thursday. High temperatures in town may be in the upper teens on Tuesday and approach the single digits on Wednesday and Thursday, while summit high temperatures will drop to around ten degrees on Tuesday and struggle to rise much above zero on Wednesday and Thursday.

But the sun should return on Thursday, even though temperatures won’t noticeably warm until Friday. A relatively chaotic weather pattern is then forecast for next weekend as waves of energy containing very little moisture move through the Great Basin, with a bit of snow possible around mid-weekend. Other than that, this pattern change, while forecast for a while, unfortunately looks to bring far more cold than snow. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see what might be in store after our work week cold spell.

Chilly starts to sunny and warmer days through the weekend

Thursday, January 27, 2022

After some intermittent snow showers early this morning, sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon. The clear skies will persist through the weekend, and though the days will see warming temperatures, quite cold nights are expected down at the Yampa Valley floor. Our next chance for precipitation looks to occur sometime after the start of the next work week.

A narrow ridge of high pressure is currently situated along the West Coast while a deep vortex of very cold air extends from Baffin Bay west of Greenland through the Great Lakes and towards our neck of the woods. The couple of small storms last Tuesday and today traveled over the top of the ridge, and mixed with some of the cold and dry air associated with the vortex, but those underwhelming storms will be the last of our interesting weather for the next five days or so as that West Coast ridge is forecast to move overhead this weekend.

The sunny skies will help moderate the arctic air mass that has settled over our area, but stout temperature inversions, where temperatures increase with height, are forecast to form over the valley through the weekend. It looks like the coldest morning of the next several will be Friday morning, with low temperatures in the valley expected to be in the negative teens, even as mountain-top low temperatures stay above zero.

We should be able to warm towards our average of 28 F in the valley on Friday as mountain-top temperatures warm into the teens, so at some point during the day the stronger warming at the surface will erase the nighttime temperature inversion.

But the temperature inversion looks to return each morning through the weekend, though there will be a steady upward trend in the low and high temperatures each day, perhaps around 5 F. The temperature inversions will be the only weather story during a gorgeous weekend, but there is some weather forecast model consensus that storminess returns to our area around next Tuesday or Wednesday. There is still disagreement on the details, and I hope to have some clarity on the upcoming pattern change by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Small storms for Tuesday and Thursday

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Bluebird skies and temperatures in the low teens at the Bob Adams airport and upper teens near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon. We should see increasing clouds on Monday ahead of our next small storm on Tuesday. While Wednesday currently appears dry, another small storm looks to pass close enough to bring another round of light snow chances for Thursday followed by dry weather heading into next weekend.

As has been the case since the big snowstorms ended near the beginning of the month, a ridge of high pressure currently sits over western North America while a deep trough of low pressure centered over Hudson Bay sits over the eastern half of the continent. A couple of unimpressive waves of moisture and energy are forecast to ride over the top of the ridge of high pressure to our west and mix with some cold air spinning around the Hudson Bay vortex of cold air, bringing snowfall chances back to our area on Tuesday and Thursday.

Both of these waves are expected to split as they approach our area, which further reduces confidence in the amount of snowfall we could receive. But we should see clouds increasing on Monday ahead of the first storm, with light snowfall breaking out Monday night and continuing through the day Tuesday, leaving 2-5” of snowfall at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort.

It looks like we will see some sun on Wednesday ahead of a similar, but weaker, storm on Thursday. Weather forecast models are still waffling on the westward extent of the storm, but it looks like we could see another 1-4” of snow which should occur during the daylight hours of Thursday.

That persistent ridge of high pressure over North America looks to move eastward and over our area to start next weekend as the flow over the Pacific reorganizes, so expect dry weather and warming temperatures, especially at the higher elevations. This shift looks to be the beginnings of a pattern change that may bring the storm track back to our area during the following work week, though I’ll be more confident of that assessment in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Dry weather follows small storm for Friday

Thursday, January 20, 2022

After a couple inches of very light powder fell last night, a mix of sun and clouds are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon, with more clouds than sun at the higher elevations and temperatures ranging from ten degrees near the top of Mt Werner to the low-twenties at the Bob Adams airport. A splitting storm will pass through our area on Friday after which dry weather is expected through the weekend.

A persistent ridge of high pressure currently located just off the West Coast is under attack by an incoming Pacific storm. There has been a lot of uncertainty with respect to the strength, moisture content and track of the storm this week, and weather forecast models have settled on a splitting storm that will bring another round of light accumulations to our area on Friday.

While the storm is currently relatively coherent as it crosses the Pacific Northwest coast, it is unfortunately forecast to split almost perfectly around us on Friday, with the southwestern part heading into the western Great Basin and the northern part racing across the Northern Plains. We will see a cold front move through around or just before the 5 am ski report, with the best snow expected through noon or so before the snow turns more showery in the afternoon and tapers off in the evening. We could see a 3-6” storm total between Thursday and Friday nights, with the bulk of the snow falling Friday morning after the ski report.

We will then be left in the col between the southwestern part of the storm and the jet stream, which will flow around a rebuilding ridge of high pressure centered over the Pacific Northwest and into the persistent area of low pressure extending southward and southwestward from Hudson Bay. As such, expect periods of sun and clouds with temperatures in the Yampa Valley warming from around our average of 27 F on Saturday to the low and mid-thirties by Sunday.

Another Pacific disturbance similar to the storm tomorrow is forecast for around Tuesday, with clouds increasing Monday ahead of the storm. There is weather forecast model disagreement on whether the storm will split, but I’ll certainly know more about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Weather turns unsettled by midweek

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Mostly sunny skies filtered by high clouds and temperatures in the teens in town and around twenty near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon. More of the same is expected for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Tuesday before several passing disturbances turn the weather cooler and unsettled by Wednesday. One of these disturbances may bring a good chance of snowfall by the end of the work week.

A broad ridge of high pressure is currently centered over the West Coast while a complex trough of low pressure sits over the eastern half of North America. Additionally, an eddy cut off from the main jet stream sits off the coast of California, but is currently trapped under the ridge of high pressure.

While a Nor’Easter is forecast to develop over the next day from a storm currently centered over Georgia, our area will see benign and pleasant weather for tomorrow and Tuesday. The sunny day forecast for Martin Luther King Jr. Day will give way to some clouds on Tuesday in advance of an unsettled period of weather starting on Wednesday and punctuated by a possible storm on Friday.

The unsettled weather will be caused by weather disturbances in the Pacific traveling over the top of the ridge of high pressure over the West and mixing with the cold air in central Canada that is associated with the eastern trough of low pressure.

The big uncertainty for our area is the amount of moisture that will be contained in the Pacific disturbances and the amount of cold air eventually mixed into the storms. Right now, a mostly dry cold front is forecast for Wednesday, but there could be some snow showers that will struggle to produce accumulating snowfall as sparse moisture from that now-eastward-moving eddy from off the California coast mixes with the disturbance.

Another dry cold front is forecast for Thursday, with the final and most potent storm of this series forecast for Friday. There has been a lot of uncertainty both between and within the weather forecast models as to the amount of moisture in this storm, and it stems from how much subtropical moisture currently north of Hawaii gets mixed into a Pacific disturbance currently approaching the Dateline.

The weather forecast models have trended toward a stronger and wetter system these past few iterations, and there is a now a possibility of some not insignificant snow by the end of the work week. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon as the details of hopefully our next powder day emerge.

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6 November 2022

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