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Wintry weather to last through the weekend

Thursday, October 26, 2023

After temperatures reached the upper fifties by noon with periods of sun on this Thursday in Steamboat Springs, they have plummeted and the snow has started by mid afternoon. This first wave of snow will mostly end by this evening with a break on Friday before a stronger second wave brings additional snow and cold on Saturday that should last into Sunday.

A ridge of high pressure currently extends from Alaska southward along the West Coast while a deep and cold trough of low pressure extends from Hudson Bay southwestward toward the Desert Southwest. The first of two waves of snow is currently moving through our area, and the very noticeable cold front was marked by sharply falling temperatures after the high temperature of the day of 58 F was reached at the Bob Adams airport at 1:35 pm.

Snow is already accumulating on the non paved surfaces as of 4:30 pm, and we should see around an inch in town and several inches on the mountain as the snow ends around mid evening along with the departing wave.

Friday should actually be a relatively pleasant but cool day with periods of sun and high temperatures reaching around fifty degrees, which is a bit below our average of 54 F. And I mean relative to the gorgeous weather of the past work week with the high temperature reaching 75 F on Sunday and 69 F on Monday.

Don’t be fooled by the nice Friday since a stronger and colder second wave is forecast to move across Idaho early on Saturday and eventually across our area later Sunday. Energy rounding the base of the wave is forecast to carry Pacific moisture over our area and will restart snowfall by Friday night.

As the wave moves into the Great Basin Saturday and Saturday night, persistent snowfall becomes established over or near our area along a stationary front that separates the cold air to our north from the warmer air to our south.

Snowfall looks to continue into Saturday night before tapering off on Sunday, with several inches possible in town and 8-16” possible at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Travel over Rabbit Ears Pass will likely be difficult during the height of the storm between Friday and Saturday nights.

While the forecast today indicates the snowfall will taper off on Sunday, it could end earlier or later in the day as weather forecast models often struggle with the progression of stationary fronts. Regardless, unseasonably cold air will follow the second wave carrying an associated arctic air mass overhead, with high temperatures reaching only near forty degrees on Saturday and near freezing on Sunday.

But the low temperatures will eventually be mid winter-like, with Sunday morning in the teens and, if the skies clear as forecast later Sunday night, Monday morning near zero degrees. This is over twenty degrees below our average of 22 F, and even below the 5 F average low temperature in January!

The ridge of high pressure off the West Coast is forecast to slowly move overhead through the next work week, so the early Halloween weather forecast is cold and dry as temperatures only slowly modify. But be sure to check back as I’ll have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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1 July 2021

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