Storm cycle ends Monday afternoon
Sunday, January 29, 2023
Temperatures are in the upper twenties, right around average, in the town of Steamboat Springs this Sunday mid-afternoon along with passing snow showers which are more persistent at higher elevations. A storm to our west has split yesterday and we will see snows pick up again tonight and last into Monday afternoon as pieces of the storm move near before quite cold air and, believe it or not, mostly sunny skies are over our area on Tuesday. Pockets of moisture may keep clouds around for Wednesday and possibly Thursday though chances are the skies will stay dry.
Clockwise flow around a ridge of high pressure currently over the Eastern Pacific has conspired with the counter-clockwise flow around a deep vortex of very cold air over Hudson Bay to bring wintry weather to our area this week.
The final storm in this active pattern split as it traveled southward along the Vancouver coast yesterday, and the southern part of the split is currently located over northern California while the northern part is moving through the northern Rockies. A stationary front has formed near our area thanks to winds from the west-southwest ahead of the southern split overrunning the very cold air to our north associated with the northern split.
Snows will pick up in the vicinity of the stationary front as it approaches and stalls over our area tonight through Monday morning. Eventually, the cold air wins this battle and snows will wind down later Monday as the stationary front moves south through Colorado. In addition to the 2” that has already fallen on the mid-mountain powdercam by this Sunday afternoon, expect another 4-8” overnight and 1-4” during the day Monday.
High temperatures for Monday near the top of the Steamboat Ski area will likely occur at midnight tonight, with temperatures between 5-10 F first thing in the morning falling to below zero by sunset and likely below -5 F for the Tuesday morning low. High temperatures in town will likely be relegated to the low to mid teens on Monday, and along with a forecast of clearing skies by Tuesday morning, low temperatures on Tuesday could drop into the minus teens, especially along the river drainages.
But lots of sun on Tuesday will help with the cold, and a slowly building ridge of high pressure for the rest of the work week should allow high temperatures to rise each day to around or just above our average of 28 F by Friday. Pockets of moisture producing clouds are forecast to move through the ridge starting on Wednesday however, with the best chance for more sun looking like Thursday.
There is a chance for more snow around the start of next weekend, though weather forecast models have lately trended far weaker with the storm. So check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon when I’ll have more details about the upcoming weekend weather.
Steamboat closes in on another hundred inch month
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Temperatures have reached eighteen degrees in the town of Steamboat Springs and five degrees near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort on this cold Thursday afternoon with continued light snow. Several weather disturbances in first northwesterly and then westerly flow will bring hefty snow totals to the region through at least Saturday. Snows should diminish by Saturday night, but may not stop as another storm influences our area on Sunday and Monday.
After 6.5” was reported by the Steamboat Ski Resort at mid-mountain on Wednesday and 5” today, the accumulated January snowfall is 90” after we saw 108” in December. That puts our season total at 275.5” so far which is already above our snowfall total from last season! And the impressive mid-mountain base of 73” pales in comparison to the 45% higher 106” summit base!
We should easily surpass 100” for the month of January at mid-mountain as the mountains of north-central Colorado are in the cross-hairs of a significant winter storm. A ridge of high pressure currently in the eastern Pacific and extending into the Gulf of Alaska is conspiring with a vortex of very cold air over Hudson Bay to direct cold air from the northern latitudes overhead. Additionally, weather disturbances moving over the ridge of high pressure have already mixed with some moist subtropical air that will provide the fuel for moderate and heavy snowfall rates centered between Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Temperatures will moderate starting tonight as the storm progresses and winds turn to be from the northwest to the west, with Friday morning likely starting out around 10 F up top and reaching 15 F by the afternoon. This temperature range is ideal for producing light and fluffy snowflakes (dendrites) so the snows should quickly pile up. I would expect 3-6” for the Friday morning mid-mountain report, with 4-8” during the day, 5-10” overnight and another 4-8” during the day Saturday. And for those adding it up, as I’m sure most are, that’s a 16-32” storm total!
Blowing snow may be an issue as winds associated with the passing disturbances pick up, especially from late Friday afternoon through midnight and again, but less so, on Saturday afternoon. Travel will likely be difficult at times over Rabbit Ears Pass especially around the windy times.
Snows should diminish by Saturday night, but may not stop as the next storm begins to influence our area. This particular storm is currently located in Alaska and is comprised of a very cold chunk of air that has broken away from Siberia. It is forecast to round the top of the eastern Pacific ridge and split as it moves along the Vancouver coast on Saturday.
Weather forecast models agree the southern part of the split will move down the West Coast on Sunday and turn our upper level winds to be from the southwest. However, the northern part of the split will also keep the cold air to our north in our proximity, and some sort of stationary front may loiter over our area on Sunday and Monday. Preliminary guidance indicates another 6-12” of snowfall possible, though that will ultimately be dependent upon the location of the stationary front.
We have a lot of weather to get through on Friday and Saturday first, so be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have more details on our next storm.
Cold with best snow chances around midweek
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-teens at all elevations are over the Steamboat Springs area late this Sunday morning. A series of Pacific disturbances moving through the Pacific Northwest will keep the cold air around through the work week and bring the best chances for some light accumulating snowfall from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday night.
After three inches of fluffy snow fell on Saturday thanks to unstable and moist flow from our favorable northwest direction, we have some sunshine on this cold Sunday morning thanks to a ridge of high pressure between the departing storm yesterday and an approaching storm currently in Nevada. Unfortunately, the Nevada storm is forecast to head further south and then east across New Mexico by Tuesday, so expect only increasing clouds later today and some overnight and early Monday morning flurries.
Meanwhile, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to continue building in the eastern Pacific and direct modest waves of Pacific energy and moisture moving down its east side over our area by later Tuesday. Additionally, the counter-clockwise circulation around a very cold vortex of low pressure over Hudson Bay will allow cold air to be incorporated into these Pacific weather systems, keeping quite cold air over our region through the work week.
Our best chance of snow is forecast to be between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning. Similar to Saturday, light but persistent fluffy snow could produce 2-5” for the mid-mountain Steamboat ski report on both Wednesday and Thursday morning.
There is some weather forecast model uncertainty as to whether we see some more chances for light snow for the end of the work week and heading into next weekend, though a more active pattern may emerge around the end of next weekend. Be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I hope to have more details on our next snowy pattern.
Storms to bookend this weekend
Thursday, January 19, 2023
A cold but partly sunny day is over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon with temperatures around fifteen degrees at all elevations. A grazing storm brings a small chance of snowfall to our area later Friday with a better chance later Sunday as a more potent, but still modest, storm moves through.
Over the last two days, the Steamboat Ski Resort reported 16” of snow at mid-mountain and 29” up top, substantially more than the 5-11” I was expecting at mid-mountain in the last Sunday weather narrative. I expected more showery snows on Wednesday as the storm eddy moved east, but more consistent snowfall during the day at rates around one inch per hour at times left 8” at both mid-mountain and the top. Additionally, the upper mountain powdercam showed some intense showers between 4:30 pm and 6 pm yesterday that dropped 6” of very low density snowfall, and the additional 4” that fell overnight was the cherry on top of the two day storm.
The atmosphere is now forecast to transition to a cooler and drier pattern as a ridge of high pressure builds in the Gulf of Alaska and over the West Coast and directs air from the northern latitudes over our area. But drier does not mean dry, and there will be several chances for snow this next week, with the first coming Friday as a storm current over Nevada moves eastward tomorrow along the southern Colorado border. The storm has formed an eddy, and our chances for precipitation will be meager on Friday night as the eddy skirts to our south and favors the southern areas.
As the eddy departs Colorado early in the weekend our next storm is forecast to cross the Vancouver coast on Saturday and split as it moves through the Great Basin on Sunday. As difficult as eddies are to forecast, split storms pose their own challenges, specifically with regards to how much moisture and energy are partitioned between the northern and southern streams. Right now, snows look to begin around Sunday afternoon as the southern end of the storm moves to the Four Corners by Monday morning and could linger over our area overnight.
There is also a chance that we see continued showers through Monday as the northern piece of the storm moves near. Snowfall amounts at this time look modest, and I’ll have some snowfall guesses in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.
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.