Storm chances decrease for the weekend

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The clouds over Steamboat Springs this Thursday morning have dissipated early this afternoon leaving mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low eighties. Good chances for afternoon and overnight storms will continue today and more so on Friday before they decrease for the weekend as drier air pushes through the northern Colorado region.

A ridge of high pressure continues to sit over the West while a storm is located in the Gulf of Alaska. Monsoonal moisture from the south has been drawn around the ridge of high pressure and over our area starting yesterday, and that will continue today and tomorrow. While some areas may receive brief locally heavy rain, frequent lightning, small hail and gusty winds, some areas may receive nothing, and this was the case yesterday when the downtown area received over an inch of rain in about ten minutes along with marble sized hail! But while the core of that storm cell was intense, it was also small as only a third of an inch was recorded between the mountain and downtown and my rain gauge about 3 miles south of downtown showed only 0.15”.

Good storm chances will persist for later today and tonight as subtle impulses of energy rotate around the ridge of high pressure and encourage storm formation. Better chances for daytime and overnight storms exist for Friday as cold air moving through the Bering Sea dislodges the Gulf of Alaska storm eastward and drags a left-over piece of energy off the coast of northern California through the northern and central Rockies, temporarily flattening the ridge of high pressure. Even short term weather forecast models have a difficult time with timing and placement of these storms, but some areas are likely to receive the same brief heavy rain, frequent lighting, small hail and gusty winds that downtown saw yesterday afternoon.

The ridge of high pressure rebounds behind the disturbance on Friday as drier air ahead of the eastward moving Gulf of Alaska storm overspreads at least northern Colorado starting on Saturday for a downturn in storm chances, though the storms that do develop could still be strong. By late in the weekend, that Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to cross the Vancouver coast, with the southerly flow ahead of that storm allowing some monsoonal moisture to return northward, though at this point most of that moisture will still be south of us for another day of reduced storm chances.

That Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to eventually move across Montana early in the work week, though there is weather forecast model disagreement on the amount of dry air that may move overhead as well as whether the proximity of the grazing storm will allow for stronger thunderstorms. But check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I should have a better idea of the weather for the coming work week.

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11 August 2019

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