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Cool and unsettled weather yields to warm and mostly sunny for Opening Day

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Temperatures are in the mid thirties under cloudy skies late this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs. The cool temperatures forecast for today and Monday will be accompanied by sporadic showers producing only meager precipitation behind a cool front this afternoon. Despite cooling nighttime temperatures, warmer daytime highs under mostly sunny skies return on Tuesday and Wednesday, which is the scheduled Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Clouds return on Thanksgiving Day ahead of another storm for the end of the work week that promises some snow and colder temperatures.

As an administrative note, SnowAlarm switches some products around between the winter and summer seasons; the current avalanche conditions from the Colorado Avalanche Center are now on the home page and references to the air quality widget and NOAA smoke model have been removed. Additionally, I have resumed posting the hourly forecasts for snow bands that are run twice daily.

The West is under a broad trough of low pressure formed by the departing storm from last night that is currently over Oklahoma and Nebraska and an approaching storm affecting Utah. The departing storm left about a quarter inch of mostly liquid precipitation in town and two inches of snow at mid mountain through this morning. Though the upper mountain powdercam is showing nine inches of snow, I do not know when that platform was last cleared; for reference the Tower SNOTEL site indicates about seven inches of snow fell starting Saturday afternoon that contained 0.6” of liquid.

The Utah storm is now forecast to stay to our west, but will be close enough to drag a cool front through our area this afternoon. Winds will switch to be from the current favorable northwest to the less favorable north behind the front, eventually making the current intermittent showers even less numerous, even as they continue through the day Monday.

While we may see another inch or two of snowfall at the higher elevations, the best news will be the colder temperatures that will allow desperately needed snowmaking in time for the scheduled Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Resort on Wednesday. This will be more efficient up top due to colder temperatures and lower relative humidity, but I have no idea if riding the new upper mountain extension of the Wild Blue gondola is being considered.

Plenty of sun on Tuesday and Wednesday will allow daytime temperatures in town to stay in the low forties through Tuesday, right at our average of 40 F, despite the colder nighttime temperatures in the low twenties tonight and mid teens on Monday and Tuesday nights, which is also right around our average of 15 F.

Even warmer high temperatures near fifty degrees are expected for Wednesday as a ridge of high pressure quickly moves through the area behind the departing storms and ahead of our next weather maker for later Thanksgiving Day or Friday.

This next storm is currently moving through the Gulf of Alaska and is forecast to mix with some arctic air from north central Canada after it crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Wednesday. High temperatures will drop into the mid forties on Thanksgiving Day as clouds increase ahead of the approaching storm. There is more uncertainty with respect to the timing of the cold front and the amount of snow than the colder temperatures, with highs currently forecast around freezing on Friday.

Let’s hope that the Steamboat Ski Resort can manage their scheduled opening on Wednesday, and be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details about the next storm.

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23 February 2021

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