Storm cycle to start today and last through Monday

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Mostly sunny skies filtered by high clouds and temperatures in the upper thirties are over Steamboat Springs early this Thursday afternoon. A series of waves developing over the northern Pacific will move overhead through the weekend creating a storm cycle that will start later today and last through Monday. Storm totals could be a foot in town and two feet or more at the Steamboat Ski Resort by the time the cycle ends late Monday, along with difficult travel over Rabbit Ears Pass at times.

A train of moist waves following an eddy that stayed well to our south is forecast to move through our area from the favorable northwest direction starting tonight. While the snows will start with light intensity, they will become moderate to heavy as the stronger waves pass through the area. Snowfall rates as high as an inch per hour at pass level will combine with increasing winds to make travel difficult or even impossible at times, especially from Saturday night through Sunday afternoon.

The leading diffuse wave tonight should only produce 1-3” for the Friday morning ski report, with another 1-3” during the day as a second diffuse waves moves through.

A stronger and more coherent wave is forecast for Friday night through Saturday afternoon which should produce another 4-8” of snow with most of that falling before the Saturday morning report and the rest falling during the day.

The brunt of the storm should occur from later Saturday through the day Sunday, with wind gusts as high as 50 mph and snowfall rates exceeding an inch per hour at times, making this the worst time to travel. Another 4-8” of snow overnight will add to the snow that fell during the day Saturday for a 5-10” Sunday morning report, and another 4-8” should fall during Sunday.

This train of waves is suppressing a ridge of high pressure trying to build in the eastern Pacific, with the result that each successive wave will be a bit warmer than the preceding one. Snowfall to water ratios will start at around 17:1 tonight and Friday night, and decrease to around 15:1 by Saturday night and Sunday and 12:1 by Monday, creating upside-down snow where denser snow overlays lighter snow.

High temperatures in town will be near freezing on Friday and the upper twenties on Saturday before approaching our average of 35 F on Sunday. And as is usual during storm cycles when the clouds act like a nighttime blanket, low temperatures will warm and be above our average of 11 F with mid teens tonight and Friday night and low twenties Saturday night.

Snowfall should taper off from Sunday night through Monday, with a ridge of high pressure bringing nice weather by Tuesday. Enjoy the wintry weekend coming up and the desperately needed snowfall, and be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss snowfall totals so far and have a snowfall forecast for the last part of the storm.

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30 April 2022

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