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.
Sunday, November 5, 2023
After reaching a high of 61 F this Sunday mid afternoon under mostly cloudy skies, temperatures have fallen into the mid fifties on this uncomfortably dark late afternoon in Steamboat Springs. Winds will pick up on Monday and especially Tuesday ahead of a cold front later in the day that will bring a bit of snow to town and modest amounts to the higher elevations through Wednesday evening. Much colder temperatures are forecast to stick around for the rest of the work week even as we see clearing skies by Thursday.
A broad trough of low pressure currently extending southward from the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to reluctantly move eastward ahead of a storm forecast to develop near the Aleutian Islands early in the work week. Breezes from the west have already increased ahead of the Gulf of Alaska storm, with winds forecast to strengthen on Monday and more so on Tuesday as the storm approaches our area.
The clouds are here to stay though midweek as a stream of Pacific moisture ahead of the storm is directed overhead. After a similar day Monday to today, high temperatures are forecast to drop into the mid fifties on Tuesday, which is still above our average of 48 F, along with wind gusts from the west and southwest as high as 40 mph in town and 50 mph at mountain top.
The storm is forecast to elongate to the southwest as it moves toward the Great Basin early in the work week, with the northern part of the modestly splitting storm forecast to bring a cold front through our area by late Tuesday afternoon or evening.
Snowfall should get going Tuesday night, with the snow continuing into Wednesday morning before tapering off during the afternoon and ending in the evening. We could see an inch of accumulation in town by Wednesday evening with 3-6” at the higher elevations. High temperatures on Wednesday will be in the low forties, with similar temperatures on Thursday despite the return of mostly sunny skies.
There should be some warming for Friday and the weekend, though a disturbance may graze our area later Friday. Be sure to check back for more details on the coming weekend weather in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.
Thursday, November 2, 2023
Temperatures are right around our average of fifty degrees under cloudy skies this Thursday mid afternoon in Steamboat Springs. A weather disturbance passing to our north on Friday will bring another day of clouds and perhaps a high elevation flurry before clouds diminish and temperatures warm for the weekend.
A broad and weak area of low pressure is currently located in the Gulf of Alaska while a shallow ridge of high pressure is located over the southern West Coast. A stream of Pacific moisture, referred to as an atmospheric river, is currently impinging on the Pacific Northwest ahead of a weather disturbance ejecting out of the Gulf of Alaska low pressure area and is forecast to cross the coast tonight.
The leading edge of moisture has moved through the weakening ridge of high pressure to our west and is responsible for the cloudy skies today. The clouds will stick around on Friday as that weather disturbance moves through Wyoming and Montana and grazes our area Friday night, with a flurry possibly at the higher elevations to our north and another day of around average temperatures.
Mostly sunny skies should reappear on Saturday as what is left of the ridge of high pressure moves overhead behind the passing disturbance, making for a very pleasant day with high temperatures in the mid fifties. And even though temperatures will be a degree or two warmer on Sunday, moisture ahead of another Pacific disturbance ejecting out of the Gulf of Alaska high pressure area may bring the clouds back as the day progresses.
Temperatures will be on a gentle downswing for the start of the work week as additional Pacific disturbances ejecting out of the Gulf of Alaska low pressure are carried near our area in winds from the west. The last in this series is forecast for around midweek with below average temperatures and a chance for modest amounts of snow, though the strength and timing are still changing in the weather forecast models.
So enjoy the pleasant weekend, and be sure to check back for more details about a possible midweek storm in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.