Warmer weekend starts sunny and ends stormy

Thursday, February 16, 2023

A cold but thankfully sunny day was over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday with high temperatures reaching only 16 F in town and 5 F near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort. After another subzero night at all elevations, temperatures should warm into the twenties in town and on the hill during a mostly sunny Friday and Saturday. A quick moving storm will bring some snow for Sunday with a quick break early Monday before a very active winter weather pattern engulfs the West through midweek.

A ridge of high pressure has set up shop over the eastern Pacific, allowing cold air from Siberia to mix to some degree with moist subtropical air from moving northward along the west side of the ridge. As the initially cold storms first ride over the top of the ridge and then down its eastern side into the West, even more cold air is drawn into the storms from Alaska and then western Canada.

With that pattern in mind, a series of storms looks to impact our weather starting on Sunday. The first one is currently elongating along the West Coast and splitting, with the southern end of the split forming an eddy that is forecast to move slowly southward off the coast through the weekend and eventually approach Baja.

Ahead of the split and behind the departing storm, a transient ridge of high pressure is forecast to move over the West, bringing sunny skies and moderating daytime temperatures to our area on Friday and Saturday. But the clear skies means cold overnight temperatures, especially in the Yampa Valley, with minus teens likely tonight, and perhaps colder in the favored low-lying areas. And the cold valley temperatures to start the day mean we may not reach our average high temperature of freezing, even though that is what the numerical guidance is indicating.

While the northern part of the split should pass north of our area Saturday with no effect, clouds should increase later Saturday as another storm with a more southern track follows in our favorable northwest flow. This is a quick-moving storm that should leave 3-6” of snowfall at mid-mountain during the day Sunday, and though timing is still subject to change, right now the best snowfall looks to occur by noon with snow showers tapering off during the afternoon.

Currently it looks like Washington’s Birthday will start dry, but another quick moving wave looks to start a period of very active weather starting later Monday and lasting through midweek. One possibility has that Baja eddy moving east and perhaps supplying some moisture to a very strong and cold incoming storm.

But there are lots of moving pieces after Sunday, and I hope to have some more clarity on the storms by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative sometime on Sunday, depending on when I need to sample the snowfall.

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26 June 2021

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