Snowy start to the week ahead

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Temperatures are just above freezing in the town of Steamboat Springs and just above twenty degrees at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under cloudy skies this Sunday noon. Snows will restart ahead of a Pacific storm during this afternoon and continue at varying intensities through Wednesday night before a much colder and drier air mass overspreads our area by Thursday.

A broad trough of low pressure is currently centered just off the West Coast, and waves of Pacific moisture and energy traveling though the trough have brought considerable snow to the Sierras again, with 29” reported at Kirkwood this morning, for example. That storm is currently bringing precipitation to the Great Basin and will start snows over our area this afternoon and overnight. While me may see several inches of snow during the day, the heaviest snows look to occur around midnight with inch per hour snowfall rates making travel difficult at times over Rabbit Ears Pass.

While the highest accumulations in Colorado will be reserved for our southern and central neighbors, we could see 5-10” of snowfall reported on Martin Luther King Day Jr. morning at mid-mountain, with an additional 1-4” as snowfall tapers off during the morning. Temperatures should fall from the twenties up top this afternoon to the low teens by Monday morning allowing the snowfall to become lighter and fluffier through the overnight hours.

Though snowfall will taper off on Monday, it does not look to stop as moist mainly westerly flow from the Pacific keeps light snow showers going through Monday night as ripples of energy moves through the parent trough to our West. This trough looks to be forced bodily eastward on Tuesday through the Desert Southwest, with a lot of uncertainty as to if an eddy forms as soon as Tuesday over Las Vegas or Wednesday somewhere over Colorado.

Our snowfall will be very dependent upon the location and strength of the difficult-to-forecast eddy, with forecasts right now calling for a period of more intense snowfall sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons after the lighter snowfall Monday night. We could see 4-8” of snow during this period, though amounts could easily be less or more depending upon the evolution and position of that eddy.

Meanwhile, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to strengthen and move through the eastern Pacific by midweek , allowing much colder air from the north and northwest to overspread our area by Thursday morning. The high temperatures in the thirties this past week will be replaced by the low to mid twenties, around five degrees below our average of 27 F. Lows will fall to near our average of 3 F, with negative temperatures possible in the favored locations, especially if skies partially clear.

A break in snowfall is currently forecast for Thursday and overnight, with another difficult-to-forecast weather pattern emerging for next weekend. Be sure to check back to my regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss what may be in store for our area next weekend.

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23 February 2021

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