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.

Some snow on Friday with frigid temperatures gone by Sunday

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Another frigid day is over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon with 11 F at the Bob Adams Airport and -3 F near the top of Mt. Werner with peeks of sun in the Yampa Valley. The arctic air mass that brought the bitterly cold temperatures will maintain its grip over our area through Saturday as the final surge of cold air moves through on Friday, accompanied by another round of light snow. Temperatures will warm a bit on Saturday as the sun reappears, though stronger warming will hold off until Sunday under sunny skies.

Currently, a ridge of high pressure just off the West Coast has directed waves of Pacific energy around its periphery this week, allowing them to mix with bitterly cold air over western Canada before they descended into the Great Basin. A final wave in this series is forecast to move though tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll see another round of light snowfall from tonight through Friday which should leave 2-5” at the mid-mountain measuring stake by Friday night.

But the big story are the very cold temperatures, and after a -12 F low temperature on the upper mountain last night, high temperatures there will struggle to reach above zero today. They will only warm by around five degrees on Friday, and even with the sun appearing on Saturday, high temperatures may still be mired in the upper single digits.

Likewise in the Yampa Valley, high temperatures in the teens on Friday will remain around twenty degrees below our average high of 35 F, with temperatures warming into the twenties on Saturday and around average on Sunday under mostly sunny skies.

But with the return of clear skies, morning temperature inversions will plague the valley, and if skies clear by Saturday morning, we could see low temperatures around -10 F, which is also around twenty degrees below our average of 9 F, or even colder in the favored low-lying areas. But that looks to be the coldest morning of the weekend as clouds will help insulate the surface on Friday morning, and by Sunday morning the air mass will have warmed sufficiently to keep low temperatures in the positive single digits.

Lots of sun and warming temperatures are on tap for most of the rest of the work week before another storm approaches our area around next weekend. There is weather forecast model disagreement on whether the storm arrives as soon as Friday, or the weekend, or possibly just after, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon to see if the sunny and warm work week weather forecast persists into the following weekend.

Snowy work week ahead

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Bluebird skies and warm temperatures in the upper thirties at the Bob Adams airport and upper twenties near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. Soak up all the sun you can today as a large and complex storm forecast to develop over the western U.S. will bring winter weather back to our area starting on Washington’s Birthday and lasting through the work week.

Currently, an expansive ridge of high pressure sits over the Gulf of Alaska while a deep vortex of cold air remains anchored over Hudson Bay and extends westward across most of Canada. The storm of interest has already traveled over the top of the ridge and is currently moving south along the Pacific Northwest coast. A large chunk of arctic air that is currently splitting away from the vortex over Hudson Bay is forecast to mix with the storm and move across the Great Basin on Monday even as the area of low pressure over the West is reinforced by additional Pacific energy traveling over the top of the ridge.

The end result is a complex storm system that includes several moving pieces, with small differences in timing or strength of these pieces possibly leading to large differences in snowfall, even though much colder weather with periods of snow are almost certain this work week.

With that disclaimer in mind, the latest forecast has the arctic front on our Wyoming doorstep by Monday morning with pieces of the leading storm moving over the arctic boundary to our north where moderate to sometimes heavy snowfall will be focused. Winds will be quite breezy from the southwest ahead of the front tonight into Monday, with the winds forecast to decrease as the arctic front passes around midnight on Monday.

Weather forecast models have generally slowed the front over the past few cycles as the storm to our west intensified, with snowfall now expected by Monday afternoon. The southward progress of the front may be stalled or even reversed later Monday depending upon the strength of the southwest winds ahead of the storm, so there is a possibility of the afternoon snow ending for a short time Monday evening before markedly increasing again after midnight.

Temperatures will plummet behind the front by early Tuesday morning, with low temperatures in the single digits below zero at all elevations and 6-12” of snow expected on the morning mid-mountain report at the Steamboat Ski Resort. Snowfall rates should markedly decrease on Tuesday as the leading storm passes and the area of low pressure to our west is reinvigorated by another wave of Pacific energy that will take the same path as the first into the Great Basin.

Energy is forecast to eject out of the new Great Basin storm later Tuesday and Wednesday before it elongates to the south and passes over Colorado by Thursday morning. While the central and especially the southern mountains are forecast to see the greatest accumulations from this part of the storm, snowfall amounts over our area are more uncertain, with weather forecast models wavering on the northward extent of the snowfall. We could see another 6-12” of snowfall between Tuesday and Wednesday nights if the storm pieces align.

While snow is forecast to briefly end on Thursday, a final wave of Pacific energy is forecast to travel over the ridge of high pressure to our west and bring another round of snowfall on Friday. However, this storm will differ from the earlier week storms as the ridge of high pressure is forecast to move east by Thursday, directing the storm over our area from the northwest rather than the southwest. We often do quite well in this favorable northwest flow, but there is a lot of weather to get through between now and then. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see how this final storm in the series is looking.

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1 July 2021

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