Nice weekend ahead of stormy weather

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Temperatures of 25 F at the Bob Adams airport and 6 F near the top of Mt Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon. While the low elevations see some sun behind the storm yesterday, clouds dominate the upper reaches of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Temperatures will be warmer on Friday with some clouds and even some showers at the higher elevations and periods of sun in the valley. More warming and sunny skies are forecast for Saturday with a similarly warm Sunday marking the transition to a stormy weather pattern starting around George Washington’s Birthday.

The Steamboat Ski Area reported 9” at mid-mountain and 13” up top on the morning ski report, with all but 1” at mid and 5” up top occurring during a stormy Wednesday. There is still some moisture around behind the storm in the northwest flow that is funneled between a broad ridge of high pressure centered over the Gulf of Alaska and a trough of low pressure extending from a vortex of cold air centered over Hudson Bay southwestward to Baja, so our area will be susceptible to clouds and showers, especially at the higher elevations, for tonight and Friday.

A storm by the Dateline is forecast to briefly flatten the Gulf of Alaska ridge of high pressure and cross the Vancouver coast late in the weekend. Part of that ridge of high pressure will move overhead on Saturday and the beginning of Sunday ahead of the storm, bringing sunny skies and warmer temperatures, with high temperatures in the valley around 5 degrees above our average of 33 F.

But behind the transient ridge, the Vancouver storm is forecast to mix with a lobe of cold air spinning around the Hudson Bay vortex and move into the western Great Basin by Sunday night. The details are vague at this point, but the large and cold storm looks to be reinforced by waves of energy ejecting out of a developing storm currently off the coast of Japan. The end result is a possibly long lasting period of winter weather that is currently forecast to start around George Washington’s Birthday and last through at least some of the work week.

There are a lot of details that need to be ironed out by the various weather forecast models in the coming days, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss the evolving storm and have some snowfall guesses.

Some snow likely midweek

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Temperatures have warmed into the mid-teens at the Bob Adams airport and 21 F near the top of Mt. Werner under bluebird skies this Sunday noon. Monday will be another gorgeous day while Tuesday will see increasing clouds and breezes ahead of a complex storm system that should be close enough to bring a good chance of light to possibly moderate snow on Wednesday. Snow may hang on for Thursday, or not, before the weather clears heading into the long Washington’s Birthday weekend.

Currently, a compact storm is located just off the coast of British Columbia while a much broader storm is located near the Dateline. The first storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Monday and mix with some cold air over western Canada as it moves southward along the Seirra Nevada mountain range, and be quickly followed by some energy that had earlier been ejected from the Dateline storm.

So we have two storms that will interact to some degree, with both incorporating some cold air from western Canada. The amount of cold air mixed into each storm and their interaction will determine the precipitation chances over our area, with forecast uncertainty high due these factors.

Ahead of the storms, expect another beautiful day on Monday with high temperatures in town a bit above our average of 31 F. Tuesday will be another relatively warm day that should be mostly sunny with increasing clouds late in the day and increasing breezes first from the west and then the southwest as the first storm moves southeastward into southern Nevada.

The latest weather forecast model have trended lower with our snow amounts, but right now I would guess accumulating snow starts sometime around or before noon on Wednesday, when the bulk of the first storm passes south of our area, and Wednesday night when the bulk of the second storm passes first to our west and then our south. Total accumulations might be in the 3-6” range by the Thursday morning ski report, though they could less or more depending upon the eventual track of the two storms.

Warming and drying commences sometime on Thursday and continues into the start of the long Washington’s Birthday weekend. However, an unsettled weather pattern may begin around the end of the weekend or soon after as that large storm by the Dateline moves east and possibly vanquishes the persistent ridge of high pressure around the West Coast, opening the door to a much wetter pattern. Weather forecast models always struggle with large-scale pattern changes, and they are currently waffling around that scenario, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see if we can end the month with a snowy period.

Snow chances last through Friday night ahead of clearing and warming

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Temperatures are in the mid-thirties at the Bob Adams airport and around twenty degrees near the top of Mt. Werner under cloudy skies this Thursday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. A small weather system currently moving southward across Wyoming will increase the chances of some snow from this afternoon through Friday night under breezy conditions, though accumulations look unimpressive. Skies should turn mostly sunny on Saturday with seasonably cool temperatures, with continued sun and warming temperatures on Sunday that are forecast to last into the following work week. Our next chance for snowfall looks to wait until around midweek.

Our area is currently located between a persistent-since-early-January ridge of high pressure over the West Coast and a vortex of very cold air centered over Hudson Bay. Waves of Pacific energy have been topping the ridge and mixing to some degree with the cold and dry air from the vortex as they move over our area in northwest flow. The third wave this work week will pass through on Friday, and looks to be moister and further west than the last two waves that passed through on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, accumulations between this afternoon and Saturday morning will be modest at best under breezy conditions, with 1-4” expected at mid-mountain, as there just is not a lot of moisture associated with the storm. There is enough cold air for the top of the hill to be near zero very early Saturday morning, though temperatures up top are quickly forecast to rebound into the low to mid teens by the afternoon as the western ridge of high pressure moves eastward towards our area and mostly sunny skies return.

More warming and sunny skies are expected on Sunday, with more of the same forecast for the beginning of the work week. Weather forecast models are currently tracking a couple of disturbances off the coast of Japan that look to bring a significant pattern change to our area around midweek, though the details are currently a bit vague. They should hopefully be in better focus by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Warming temperatures this week with a couple of grazing cold fronts

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-twenties at the Bob Adams airport and 10 F near the top of Mt Werner this Sunday noon have overtaken the brief round of productive snowfall last night in Steamboat Springs which left 1.5” on my deck near the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort, 2.5” at mid-mountain and 5” up top. Expect warming temperatures despite a couple of grazing cold fronts this work week ahead of some possible snow heading into next weekend.

Better moisture and a stronger storm than forecast in my last weather narrative under favorable cold northwest flow produced the snowfall last night. The weather forecast models often struggle with the humidity, westward extend and strength of these storms as they travel along the eastern periphery of a western ridge of high pressure, and last night was one such example.

That western ridge of high pressure is forecast to begin to move eastward toward our area on Monday, leading to mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures around or just above our average of 30 F, but three waves of Pacific energy are forecast to round the ridge of high pressure and mix with some cool Canadian air this work week.

This is a similar setup to what we just experienced last night, so there is room for the forecast to change over the coming days depending on how far west these storm travel, but right now the forecast is for a dry cool front to graze our area on Tuesday with a slightly moister one later Wednesday. There may be just some clouds associated with the Tuesday front, with a better chance of some snow showers later Wednesday, though weather forecast models have trended weaker and further east with the midweek front. As was the case last night, there is still time for this to change!

The third cold front heading into next weekend looks more promising though, with this morning’s model runs bringing a modest event overhead, even as one model run last night kept all the weather action to our east. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I should have a better idea of the potential for more snow heading into next weekend.

Dry weather persists under warming temperatures

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Temperatures have warmed under bluebird skies to 8 F at the Bob Adams airport and -3 F at the top of Mt Werner in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon. While these temperatures are quite cold, they started out much colder with -13 F at the airport and -12 F at the top of the hill. Expect another brutally cold morning on Friday before we start to see more pronounced warming heading into the weekend, in spite of a dry cold front on Saturday that might bring some flurries overnight.

A ridge of high pressure along the West Coast has conspired with an exceptionally cold air mass centered around Hudson Bay to bring very cold temperatures to our area as a wave of Pacific energy traveled over the top of the ridge and mixed with a chunk of cold air from Canada. Our average high temperature is 29 F and the average low is 4 F, so we are seeing temperatures around twenty degrees below average - good thing it’s sunny!

The ridge of high pressure is forecast to move overhead by Friday night as it weakens thanks to another incoming dry Pacific wave of energy. We’ll see another very cold start to Friday before temperatures warm under continued sunny skies, with mountain-top temperatures in the teens and Yampa Valley temperatures rising to around twenty.

Due to the extremely cold air mass, valley temperatures are ironically expected to warm more on Saturday as the cold front mixes the stagnant air at the valley floor and modifies or eliminates the temperature inversion. So we may see temperatures in the twenties on Saturday in the valley but continued teens at the higher elevations under skies that start mostly sunny but turn cloudier in the afternoon.

The clouds will help insulate the surface like a blanket Saturday night, so low temperatures in the valley on Sunday are finally expected to be above average. There may be some flurries overnight associated with the cold front, but accumulating snowfall will be hard to come by.

The cold front will lower the Sunday afternoon temperatures a few degrees from Saturday at all elevations, but clearing skies behind the front will allow for a return of the Yampa Valley temperature inversion on Monday morning. The clear skies will allow for plenty of sun on Monday which should finally return our temperatures to around average.

This looks to persist through Tuesday before a weak and dry system, similar to the one expected mid-weekend, is forecast to pass through midweek. While there are no significant precipitation signals in the weather forecast models through next weekend, this can change so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for any clues as to when the snow returns.

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30 April 2022

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