Storms take a break for the weekend

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The remarkable winter storm centered on yesterday ended up dumping three feet of snow near the top of Mt. Werner and 21” at mid-mountain from Tuesday night through this Thursday morning. After seeing a low temperature of -6 F up top and 2 F in town this morning , the cold temperatures will stick around for another day before we see warming by Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Our next storm is currently forecast for Sunday night.

We saw 10” at mid-mountain and 16” up top by Wednesday morning after the snows started at 10:30 pm Tuesday night. Ski Patrol measured 18” up top by 8 am Wednesday morning with only 4% liquid water content, and very heavy snowfall rates were observed throughout the day. Another 11” at mid-mountain and 20” up top was reported this morning, of which 4” and 6”, respectively, fell overnight. And as a bonus, the upper mountain base at the Steamboat Ski Resort cracked the 100” barrier for the first time this season at 103”.

The light and fluffy snowfall was settling as it was falling, and, for example, the 20” of snowfall reported this morning up top only contributed to 8” of base! And a long time-lapse of the Steamboat Powedercam never showed the storm total snow over 23” even though 36” was measured separately over the two days.

The arctic front that brought the heavy snows to our area has left a bitterly cold air mass in its wake, with Friday’s low temperatures again forecast to be well below zero up top. And if skies clear tonight, the Yampa Valley will also see low temperatures below zero which could be as cold as twenty to thirty degrees below our average of 15 F in the coldest low-lying areas.

But a ridge of high pressure is forecast to move overhead Saturday afternoon, so temperatures will warm as the arctic air mass is pushed to the east by the encroaching ridge. There appears to be some moisture that will move through the ridge of high pressure as it passes overhead, so we’ll likely see periods of clouds and sun during the days of Friday and Saturday, and perhaps some brief non-accumulating snow showers.

Sunday should start seasonably cool and sunny, though a storm currently developing near the Dateline is forecast to bring snows back to our area by Sunday night. Though there is disagreement between weather forecast models as to the strength of the storm, right now it is looking like a modest event. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss that storm as well as another possible storm around midweek.

Quick update on the Wednesday storm

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

I wanted to give a quick update on the storm for tomorrow which I first discussed in my last Sunday’s weather narrative, as its looking bigger than that 5-10” storm total. The arctic front is currently located in central Wyoming as the parent storm moves southward from the Canadian border toward the Great Basin tomorrow.

We should see some light snow showers this evening ahead of the cold front, but the snows will get going in earnest by around mid-evening to midnight as the winds turn to be from our favorable northwest direction as part of the front moves through. We could see snowfall rates above an inch per hour at times, and I would expect 3-6” on the Wednesday morning mid-mountain report.

As the parent storm moves southward into the Great Basin on Wednesday, the winds should decrease and turn to be more from the west, which will keep the snows going through the day and into the overnight. Another 5-10” is possible by sunset, with another 1-4” overnight.

Travel will likely be difficult or even impossible at times over Rabbit Ears Pass, as the National Weather Service is talking about the possibility of snow squalls on Wednesday in the very cold and unstable air mass behind the front. Hopefully your travel can be completed by tonight or started on Thursday as Wednesday will be best enjoyed on the hill.

Wintry weather continues this week

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Temperatures are in the upper twenties in the town of Steamboat Springs and mid-teens near the top of Mt. Werner this Sunday noon under mostly cloudy skies with peeks of sun. Snow showers should redevelop this afternoon and last through Monday as the third and final storm in this series scoots west of our area on Monday and south of our area on Tuesday. Though snowfall amounts will be limited, the cold air will not with below zero low temperatures in the forecast for both town and the mountain on both Monday and Tuesday mornings. And the winter weather continues on Wednesday as another cold storm with good snowfall potential moves through during the day and overnight.

Currently, the second storm in this three-storm complex is heading to our east while the third storm is moving through Idaho. This last one will be the coldest and driest of the three, and though we may see on-again and off-again snow showers from this afternoon through most of Monday, I would only expect 1-4” of snow to accumulate at mid-mountain. Temperatures will be cold though, with low temperatures around zero at all elevations on both Monday and Tuesday mornings.

There will likely be periods of sun Tuesday morning as our next storm, currently riding over the top of an eastern Pacific ridge of high pressure, mixes with some frigid air from the North Pole and moves southward toward our area later Tuesday. Expect snow showers to start by the afternoon or overnight and become moderate to heavy at times on Wednesday and Wednesday night as energy ejects out of the approaching storm and moves over the arctic cold front on our doorstep. I would expect 5-10” of accumulations by the Thursday morning report before snowfall ends early Thursday.

If skies clear by Friday morning, we could again be looking at low temperatures well below zero, possibly reaching the negative teens in the coldest low-lying valley locations. A storm currently near the Dateline is then forecast to bodily push the persistent ridge of high pressure towards our area for next weekend, though we may still be susceptible to some showers and surges of cool air as waves of energy and moisture possible mix with some cold air from western Canada and graze our area as they move down the eastern periphery of the ridge.

This dislocation of the persistent eastern Pacific ridge may open the door to warmer and wetter Pacific storms crossing the West Coast and moving toward our area, but there is a lot of weather to get through before discussing the period after next weekend. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss the weekend weather and the possible pattern change.

Complex storm to bring snows back for the weekend

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Sunshine filtered by high clouds was over the Steamboat Springs area most of this Thursday, with high temperatures reaching 47 F at the Bob Adams airport and 43 F near the top of Mt. Werner. A complex storm will bring three waves of precipitation over our area starting Friday afternoon and lasting through Monday, with the first part of the storm starting warm and the last part ending cold. Snowfall should diminish or even end at times between the waves, but the three day storm totals could be significant.

The first storm in this series is just crossing the central California coast and is warm since it is the southern part of a just-split storm from the eastern Pacific. Winds from the southwest ahead of the storm will keep our warm temperatures around for most of Friday until the storm passes overhead Friday night and winds switch to be from our favorable northwest direction. There could be some showers during Friday afternoon as energy ejects out ahead of the storm, and if precipitation reaches the ground it will likely comprise of raindrops down in the Yampa Valley and snow at the higher elevations above around 9000′.

But any liquid precipitation should turn to snow in the evening as temperatures cool, with moderate to even heavy snow showers at time overnight and into Saturday morning. I would guess 1-4” of snowfall on the 5 am mid-mountain snow report with another 2-5” during the day, most of which will likely fall by early afternoon.

Meanwhile, the second piece of the storm is currently off the coast of British Columbia and is forecast to travel southward along the West Coast before turning inland and moving across the Great Basin late Saturday and into Colorado on Sunday. There is some dry air that is currently mixing into the storm, and there is weather forecast model disagreement on whether that dry air makes it over our area. Depending on that outcome, we could see snow showers redevelop overnight Saturday or hold off until winds shift to be from the northwest behind the storm Sunday afternoon.

By later Sunday, the third and final piece of the storm will have mixed with some cold air from western Canada and will begin to interact with the preceding part of the storm as it moves toward our area. We could see some fluffier snowfall from Sunday night through Monday afternoon in the 2-5” range.

Another good-looking storm is currently being advertised for around midweek, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I hope to be discussing another round of significant snows.

Warm, dry and mostly sunny work week ahead

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Bluebird skies are over the Steamboat Springs area late this Sunday morning with temperatures in the mid-teens in town and almost twenty degrees near the top of Mt. Werner. Expect some gorgeous springlike weather for most of the work week, which coincides nicely with the beginning of meteorological spring on Tuesday, March 1. But the winter break will be brief as much of the West will be back to cool and unsettled weather by the weekend.

A ridge of high pressure moving eastward over the West has allowed sunny skies to appear over our area starting yesterday even as temperatures remained quite cold. And after another frigid start to the morning with a low of -7 F at the Bob Adams airport and -14 F at the SnowAlarm weather station near the base of the mountain, temperatures in town will warm into the upper twenties today, which is still almost ten degrees below our average of 36 F. Mountain-top temperatures are currently ahead of the valley, though, rising from the low of 3 F observed at midnight to the current 19 F.

The arctic air mass that brought the bitterly cold weather that has been over our area most of the last week is being modified by increased surface heating thanks to the sun’s position higher in the sky as it moves towards the Equator from the southern hemisphere. So we should see warming temperatures each day, with high temperatures near average on Monday, near forty degrees on Tuesday, and the mid-forties on Wednesday and Thursday. There may be some passing clouds as some Pacific moisture is carried through the ridge of high pressure, though those will have little effect on high temperatures.

Meanwhile, a storm currently located in the Eastern Pacific between Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands is forecast to move eastward and cross the West Coast around Thursday, with another one behind it forecast to take a more northerly track and mix with some cold air over western Canada. The end result will be a period of unsettled weather moving toward our area for the weekend, with at least the first storm warmer and wetter than what we have experienced this past week.

And for what it’s worth, the longer-range weather forecasting models may have this unsettled pattern persisting into mid-March, with storms possible every several days. So enjoy the springlike start to the month, and stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday where I’ll have a better idea of whether the storm is on track and precipitation starts during the day Friday or Friday night, and how much snow may accumulate through next weekend. And note that due to a prior commitment, the narrative will be published by Thursday evening rather than the afternoon.

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25 December 2020

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