Long duration winter storm starts Monday

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Temperatures are in the mid-twenties, on their way toward the forties, under bluebird skies late this Sunday morning in the Steamboat Springs area. Enjoy the warmest day of the week today as a powerful winter storm brings very cold temperatures and significant snowfall to our area starting Monday afternoon and lasting through at least Wednesday. While snowfall will diminish by Thursday, it may or may not end as another wave of cold air later Thursday keeps the chances for additional snowfall around for Friday.

A large and very cold winter storm is almost done pounding the Sierras with precipitation, with three to four feet of snowfall already reported over the past day and a half. Breezy winds from the southwest ahead of the storm today will allow temperatures to climb toward forty degrees by this afternoon, over ten degrees above our average of 28 F. With continued sunny skies, today will be the nicest and warmest day of the week.

The center of the storm is forecast to move through the Great Basin on Monday and cross the Divide overnight Monday, though the storm is so large that we should see the cold front well ahead of the center of the storm system Monday after noon. We should see some good snow showers along and behind the front, with 5-10” expected by the Tuesday morning mid-mountain report, along with much colder temperatures that will struggle to reach twenty degrees in town for the rest of the work week.

By Tuesday morning, the center of the storm should be located near northeast Colorado and is forecast to intensify and move very slowly to the northeast for a time. While winds will subside as the storm moves overhead Monday, likely limiting larger snowfall accumulations by Tuesday morning, winds pick up to be from our favorable northwest direction towards noon on Tuesday.

Crucially, the storm will be large enough to draw moisture from the Gulf of Mexico starting Monday night, and the moisture is forecast to circle the storm and be carried over our area by the northwest winds later Tuesday. Combined with the cold and unstable air mass, the resulting orographic, or terrain-driven precipitation should pick up around noon on Tuesday and last into or even through Wednesday.

There is some weather forecast model disagreement on the exact track of the winter storm, so there is uncertainty on how long the deepest moisture will stay around. I would expect 6-12” of additional snowfall at mid-mountain by the Wednesday morning report, with more likely up top.

Snowfall may taper off around Wednesday afternoon if the storm moves further to the northeast, or may continue if the storm stalls as it moves across Nebraska during the day. I’d guess an additional 3-6” by the Thursday morning report, subject to the vagaries of the eventual storm track.

The center of the storm should be around Minnesota on Thursday, leading to a break in the snowfall during the day as the atmosphere dries, but a reinforcing wave of cold air from a storm currently near the Aleutians is forecast to eventually merge with the storm and move overhead from the north around Friday. So expect the cold temperatures to persist through the work week with another round of very low density snowfall to close out the work week.

So enjoy the very cold and snowy work week in what has been already been a cold and snowy start to the ski season, and I’ll be back with my regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Snow showers later Friday ahead of a nice weekend

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The storm that dropped five inches of snow at the Steamboat Ski Resort by the Thursday morning report left an additional two inches before leaving the area and allowing some sun to appear over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon. A quick moving wave will bring some snow showers back to the area by Friday afternoon and overnight with meager accumulations ahead of a nice looking weekend. Enjoy the pleasant weekend weather since a large and powerful winter storm will be on our doorstep to start the work week.

An area of low pressure currently stretching southward from the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to cross the West Coast tonight and weaken, turning the partly sunny skies to start Friday cloudy by the afternoon and starting snow showers that are expected to continue into the overnight. We may see an inch or two of accumulations before we see lots of sun and warming temperatures through the weekend, with high temperatures on Saturday around five degrees above our average of 29 F and twice that on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a chunk of very cold air originally from Siberia is forecast to move southward across Alaska and mix with a wave of Pacific energy in the Gulf of Alaska on Friday. Weather forecast models agree a large and powerful winter storm will develop and begin affecting the West Coast on Saturday. The storm is forecast to begin moving through the Great Basin on Sunday, with snow showers out ahead of the main storm starting in our area as early as Monday morning.

Despite its prodigious size, this will not be a slow moving storm to start, so expect snow showers to increase on Monday before the very cold air associated with the storm begins moving through our area Monday night. The storm is forecast to slow as additional cold air from the north is incorporated into the storm through the work week, and we may see quite cold and snowy weather conditions lasting through Thursday with significant accumulations.

So enjoy a very pleasant weekend before the snow and cold returns in what has been a very snowy start to the ski season, and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon with more details about our impending winter storm.

Periods of snow possible through Thursday

Sunday, December 4, 2022

After three inches of snowfall was reported at the Steamboat Ski Resort this Sunday morning, temperatures have warmed into the mid-thirties over the Steamboat Springs area under cloudy skies this mid-afternoon. An active weather pattern remains over our area this week leading to periods of snow possibly lasting into Thursday, with a good round of snowfall likely during the day Monday and overnight.

An eddy of low pressure is currently off the California coast and a deep vortex of very cold air is spinning over Hudson Bay. A stationary front is forecast to form over our area on Monday as energy ejecting out of the California eddy from the west and southwest meets cold air to our north rotating around the Hudson Bay vortex.

Some light snow showers have already started near the top of Mt. Werner, and these showers are forecast to descend and become moderate at times through the day on Monday and overnight. The accumulated snow will be denser than our last week of snowfall as temperatures will be warmer thanks to the warmer air from the west and southwest ahead of the California eddy.

There may be only an inch or two on Steamboat’s mid-mountain powdercam by the 5 am Monday morning report, but snowfall rates should increase during the day and overnight as energy ejects out ahead of the California eddy and rides over the stationary front. We could see an additional 3-6” by sunset and that again overnight for a 6-12” Tuesday morning report. And it’s always worth checking Steamboat’s upper mountain powdercam as there is often more snow at the higher elevation.

Meanwhile, a storm currently near the Dateline, which may affect us by next weekend, is forecast to move eastward through the work week and eventually nudge what is left of the California eddy near or over our area by Thursday. While weather forecast models agree that snowfall at least diminishes later Tuesday, they disagree on whether it will end for a time or we see several inches of snowfall Tuesday night and during the day Wednesday.

There is additional uncertainty with respect to the track of what is left of the California eddy, with one model keeping the eddy south of our area with very little additional snow after Tuesday and others bringing the storm closer with a period of moderate snow showers later Wednesday.

They also disagree on how much cold air from a wave spinning around the Hudson Bay vortex gets incorporated into the decaying eddy on Tuesday night as it crosses the Great Basin, but agree on at least some cooling by Thursday morning with briefly clearing skies by the afternoon.

That Dateline storm looks to move over our area during next weekend, though there is a lot of uncertainty as to the details. A large chunk of cold air rotating around the Hudson Bay vortex is forecast to break away, move across Alaska, and eventually be incorporated into the storm as it moves across the Gulf of Alaska around midweek. However the amount of cold air and how it interacts with the storm is not agreed upon by the weather forecast models.

So enjoy the snowy work week, and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon with more details about the weather for the coming weekend.

Blustery storm on Friday with more snow later Saturday

Thursday, December 1, 2022

A beautiful day is over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon with mostly sunny skies and temperatures around freezing. While winds are calm in town they are blowing around 20 mph at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort in advance of of our next cold and blustery storm peaking Friday morning. A short break into Saturday morning will be followed by a quick moving and warm storm from about Saturday afternoon into Sunday.

A storm currently pounding the Sierras is forecast to move across the Great Basin tonight before reaching our area early Friday morning. The breezy conditions at the top of Mt Werner will become very windy through the night as the storm approaches with gusts as high as 60 mph out of the south and southwest by midnight and 70 mph by sunrise.

Wind driven snow should be over our area early Friday morning, with the cold front associated with the storm moving through around mid-morning. The Friday snow report may not show much, but periods of moderate and heavy snows through noon and additional showers after noon may allow storm accumulations to reach 5-10” by Friday afternoon. We are likely to see another midnight special on Friday where the high temperature for the day is recorded right at midnight, with steadily falling temperatures through the day falling to near zero at the top of Mt. Werner by Friday afternoon.

Lifts may be affected by the wind, and driving will be difficult to even impossible at times around the heaviest showers which may approach two inches per hour. These heavier showers accompanied by strong winds may prompt the issuance of a Snow Squall Warning from the National Weather Service and drivers are encouraged to just pull over and wait out the squall, which may last several minutes or tens of minutes. Good advice even in the absence of an official warning if you can’t see where you are going!

So, after the fireworks during the day Friday, expect clearing skies and a cold Saturday morning with low temperatures around zero, about ten degrees below our average of 9 F. But temperatures will quickly moderate during the day as the winds turn to be from the southwest ahead of the next weather maker currently over the Aleutian Islands and forecast to evolve off the California coast starting on Friday.

Weather forecast models agree that some moisture will be drawn over our area from Baja and start a warmer round of snow showers as early as Saturday afternoon. There is uncertainty at even this close range as to how much moisture will be present and whether a stationary front separating the cold air to our north from the warm air to our south forms overhead, but we could see 3-6” of denser snow by Sunday morning.

A break in the active weather pattern is currently forecast from later Sunday through Monday, though there is considerable uncertainty as to how that California storm evolves. Right now, a piece of the storm that may be similar to the Saturday night wave is forecast for our area on Tuesday, with a break on Wednesday followed by what is left of the storm to end the work week. But check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon as that forecast will likely evolve through the next several days.

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23 February 2021

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