Thursday, November 9, 2023
Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid thirties are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Thursday afternoon. Temperatures will gradually warm through the weekend reaching above fifty degrees by Sunday afternoon under mostly sunny skies. The only good news from the snow perspective is overnight temperatures will be cold enough for effective snowmaking through the weekend and into the next work week.
Skies have cleared behind the modest storm yesterday that left a bit of snow in town and an unknown amount at the Steamboat Ski Resort since both of their powdercams are down. Temperatures will be slow to warm today and struggle to reach forty degrees, which is over five degrees below our average of 46 F, and low temperatures should fall into the low teens which is also around five degrees below our average of 18 F.
A strong storm currently spinning in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to eject a wave across the northern Rockies on Friday, and though we will see some clouds from the grazing storm later in the day, high and low temperatures should warm about five degrees to near average.
Plenty of sun will be around for the weekend and the beginning of the next work week as a ridge of high pressure builds over the West, with high temperatures on Saturday stubbornly similar to Friday before warming into the low fifties on Sunday and mid fifties by Monday.
Since there has been some chatter about a super El Niño, which is marked by exceptionally warm waters off the coast of Peru, I thought I would publish the snow water equivalents of our drainage basin for the years of the past super El Niños. As regular readers know, there is no correlation between our snowfall and either El Niño or La Niña (the cool ocean waters off the coast of Peru), but our winter may follow a similar path to the previously documented episodes, or not.
The first graphic shows the three previously measured episodes of El Niño warm enough to be categorized as “super”, with the last bar an estimate from a newly developed climate model from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The second graphic shows the snow water equivalent of the snowpack in our Yampa-White-Little Snake basin from the SNOTEL remote monitoring network, with the highest and lowest curves the maximum and minimum amounts recorded since the 1985-1986 winter. The yellow curve is the average, the darker blue curve was measured for the 2015-2016 winter, the green curve was measured for the 1997-1998 winter and the black curve is the current state of our snowpack.
A couple of observations: First, the slow start to this winter is immediately obvious, and second, the last two super El Niño winters had near average snowfall. Unfortunately, the SNOTEL network was not activated until the 1985-1986 winter so there is no graph for the first measured super El Niño. This winter may or may not follow the previous super El Niño winters, but I will note that an average winter still makes for an excellent ski season.
The quiet weather for the weekend looks to continue through at least midweek, with a possible pattern change forecast for the end of the work week or the following weekend. So enjoy the beautiful weekend and check back for more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.