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Unsettled weather may linger behind a cool and wet Thursday

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

After a sunny morning, mostly cloudy skies and breezy winds with temperatures just shy of seventy degrees are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Wednesday afternoon. Those seventies are not coming back anytime soon as a storm currently approaching the Four Corners brings wet and cool weather for Thursday. The cool temperatures will warm a bit Friday and a bit more for the weekend as the heaviest precipitation ends and becomes more showery.

The eddy I discussed in the last weather narrative on Sunday is currently just southwest of the Four Corners region and some of it is forecast to move along the southern Colorado border through Thursday morning before turning northeast and moving towards Nebraska on Friday.

Those increasing clouds this afternoon will likely produce showers, but with more gusty wind than rain as precipitation evaporates before reaching the ground in the dry lower atmosphere. But as the eddy moves across southeastern Colorado on Thursday, the atmosphere will moisten as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is incorporated into the southerly flow ahead of the storm.

Meanwhile a large storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to elongate towards Hawaii, and the southwesterly winds ahead of the storm will build a large ridge of high pressure across western Canada.

Additionally, a leftover piece of the wave of energy that initially formed the eddy off the California coast on Sunday is forecast to move underneath the building ridge of high pressure and across the northern Intermountain West on Thursday. The southern part of this wave will mix with some of the Gulf of Mexico moisture incorporated into the eddy and bring periods of steady precipitation for Thursday with high temperatures likely only in the forties, fifteen or so degrees below our average of 63 F.

Snow levels will initially be above 10,000′ feet before dropping to as low as 9,000′ feet under the heavier showers, so all rain is expected in town, a rain-snow mix at mid-elevations and eventually all snow at higher elevations, leaving an inch or two near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort by Friday morning.

By then, an odd atmospheric dance is forecast to take place between the eddy to our east and the departing wave to our north, and unbelievably, pieces of both are forecast to merge into a new eddy. This new feature is then forecast to become trapped under the ridge of high pressure and move westward back toward our area on Saturday and eventually through the Great Basin during the weekend! So Friday will see temperatures warm by about five degrees with some showers possible as the eddy moves by our area.

Coincidentally, some energy ejecting out of the southern part of the Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to move across Baja on Friday and draw moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward through Colorado by Saturday. The combination of the eddy moving westward across the Great Basin and the Gulf of Mexico moisture moving through Colorado means unsettled and cool weather under the clouds. However, there is dry air just to the west of the Gulf of Mexico plume of moisture, and there is uncertainty if this drier air makes it over our area during the weekend for periods of sun.

Temperatures will warm another five degrees for the weekend regardless, and there may or may not be shower chances depending upon the track of the westward moving eddy and plume of Gulf of Mexico moisture.

The possibility of unsettled weather looks to continue into the new work week, but be sure to check back Sunday afternoon for an updated forecast in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative.

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4 February 2024

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