Warming temperatures with a chance for more snow this weekend

Thursday, December 22, 2022

The frigid temperatures today in the Steamboat Springs area have reached 3 F in town and -10 F near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort this Thursday mid-afternoon under sunny skies. After a bitterly cold Friday morning at all elevations, temperatures will warm through the Christmas weekend and the beginning of the following week as the arctic air vacates our area and follows the departing storm eastward across the country. Despite the warming, we will see chances for light snow from Friday night into possibly Monday.

Though the cold air did not disappoint with this arctic outbreak, snowfall ended up being on the light side with only four inches recorded at mid-mountain and up top for the morning ski report, in addition to the 3” at mid-mountain and 4” up top reported Wednesday morning.

The narrow ridge of high pressure currently extending from the eastern Pacific across Alaska and into the Arctic Circle, which directed the arctic air southward over our area last night, is in the process of being undercut by Pacific energy. This will not only direct the arctic air eastward to torment the rest of the country, but will also allow for warming temperatures for our area through the beginning of next week.

Between the departing storm and a huge area of low pressure currently centered over the Aleutian Islands, a ridge of high pressure tries to build over the West, though energy and moisture ejecting out of the Aleutian storm will travel through the ridge from later Friday into Monday. Ahead of snow showers starting as early as Friday afternoon or evening, look for a brutally cold night tonight, with low temperatures up top similar to this morning and temperatures in town in the minus teens, and colder than that in the favored low lying areas, especially if clear skies stick around overnight.

But these cold temperatures will quickly moderate on Friday, with high temperatures in the teens in town, which is still around ten degrees below our average of 27 F, and near 10 F up top as the ridge of high pressure approaches our area. But at least three waves of energy will move through the ridge and cross our area in the northwest flow ahead of the ridge between later Friday and Christmas Day, with weather forecast models disagreeing on the strength, moisture content and proximity of all three of these waves.

Generally light snowfall of 1-4” might be expected from any of them between Friday night and Sunday night, with the best snowfall likely during the day Saturday. The moisture embedded in the favorable northwest flow only slowly erodes after Christmas Day, with continued snow showers into Monday and the best chance for clearer skies from later Monday through Tuesday morning.

But the snows are expected to return by midweek, perhaps in a big way, as a chunk of that Aleutian storm is dislodged and finds its way over our area. So enjoy the wintry Christmas weekend, and I’ll be back with more details on the midweek storm in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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23 February 2021

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