Thursday, April 21, 2022
The thermometer has cracked the vaunted seventy degree mark in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon under sunny skies with breezy winds from the southwest. Enjoy the summery weather now as a strong wintry storm will affect our area from Friday afternoon through the weekend, which is great news for our below-average snowpack.
A strong storm currently pounding the Sierras with wind and snow is forecast to move through the Great Basin on Friday and turn northeast before bringing blizzard conditions to the northern High Plains on Saturday. Winds will stay breezy from the southwest ahead of the storm through some of Friday afternoon at which point a strong cold front will bring rapidly falling temperatures and precipitation to our area. High temperatures will likely make it to five to ten degrees above our average of 55 F by early afternoon before rain showers at lower elevations and snow showers at higher elevations start by late afternoon or evening.
Snow showers could be moderate to heavy at times thanks to the unstable atmosphere, and snowfall rates over an inch per hour are possible, making travel difficult at times over Rabbit Ears Pass. And at some point overnight, any liquid precipitation in town should turn over to snow.
Winds and snow look to decrease during some of the overnight as the center of the storm passes just to our north, but are forecast to substantially increase again as the storm intensifies to our northeast. Winds over our area will then turn to be from our favorable northwest direction on the backside of the storm, and will combine with a moist and unstable air mass to bring good snowfall to all elevations during the day Saturday and most of the night, with continued difficult driving conditions over Rabbit Ears Pass.
After seeing high temperatures in the seventies today, Saturday will be quite the shock with snow on the ground and temperatures likely mired in the thirties! And like the last storm, snow accumulations will increase with elevation, with 6-12” of snowfall at mid-mountain possible between Friday evening and Sunday morning and 10-20” up top, with even town receiving another round of accumulating spring snow.
Snowfall looks to decrease but likely not stop Sunday morning, especially at the higher elevations, before trailing energy increases the intensity of the snow showers again by Sunday afternoon. Several more inches may accumulate at mid-mountain through the day and evening, with high temperatures in town barely breaching forty degrees.
The storm should be mostly over for our area by Sunday night, even as the work week starts cool thanks to the unseasonably cold air mass left behind by the departing storm. Enjoy the summery weather through early Friday afternoon, and stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have some storm totals and discuss what is looking like a very nice work week.