Thursday, February 3, 2022
Temperatures have warmed under bluebird skies to 8 F at the Bob Adams airport and -3 F at the top of Mt Werner in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon. While these temperatures are quite cold, they started out much colder with -13 F at the airport and -12 F at the top of the hill. Expect another brutally cold morning on Friday before we start to see more pronounced warming heading into the weekend, in spite of a dry cold front on Saturday that might bring some flurries overnight.
A ridge of high pressure along the West Coast has conspired with an exceptionally cold air mass centered around Hudson Bay to bring very cold temperatures to our area as a wave of Pacific energy traveled over the top of the ridge and mixed with a chunk of cold air from Canada. Our average high temperature is 29 F and the average low is 4 F, so we are seeing temperatures around twenty degrees below average - good thing it’s sunny!
The ridge of high pressure is forecast to move overhead by Friday night as it weakens thanks to another incoming dry Pacific wave of energy. We’ll see another very cold start to Friday before temperatures warm under continued sunny skies, with mountain-top temperatures in the teens and Yampa Valley temperatures rising to around twenty.
Due to the extremely cold air mass, valley temperatures are ironically expected to warm more on Saturday as the cold front mixes the stagnant air at the valley floor and modifies or eliminates the temperature inversion. So we may see temperatures in the twenties on Saturday in the valley but continued teens at the higher elevations under skies that start mostly sunny but turn cloudier in the afternoon.
The clouds will help insulate the surface like a blanket Saturday night, so low temperatures in the valley on Sunday are finally expected to be above average. There may be some flurries overnight associated with the cold front, but accumulating snowfall will be hard to come by.
The cold front will lower the Sunday afternoon temperatures a few degrees from Saturday at all elevations, but clearing skies behind the front will allow for a return of the Yampa Valley temperature inversion on Monday morning. The clear skies will allow for plenty of sun on Monday which should finally return our temperatures to around average.
This looks to persist through Tuesday before a weak and dry system, similar to the one expected mid-weekend, is forecast to pass through midweek. While there are no significant precipitation signals in the weather forecast models through next weekend, this can change so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for any clues as to when the snow returns.