Citizens for a Better Plan

Mostly sunny skies and seasonable temperatures to start the first week of the new year

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Temperatures are in the mid twenties under cloudy skies late this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs. While the clouds look to hang around for most of today, more sun than not should be over our area through midweek along with seasonable temperatures. A storm moving to our south may bring a chance of some light snow showers later Thursday and early Friday ahead of a pattern change that promises cold and snowy weather starting around next weekend.

A sharp ridge of high pressure currently over the northern Rockies is being undercut by a weak Pacific storm that is bringing the cloudiness today. This pattern of Pacific storms traveling underneath a ridge of high pressure is a hallmark of the El-NiƱo weather phenomenon, and ahead of a similar storm moving even further south of our area on Tuesday, mostly sunny skies should return on New Year’s Day and last through midweek.

Our string of below average temperatures this past holiday week was broken yesterday afternoon as high temperatures reached 34 F at the Bob Adams Airport, six degrees above our average of 28 F, and the low temperature this morning was 11 F thanks to the insulating effects of overnight clouds, seven degrees above our average of 4 F.

While we will see more sun than not through midweek, the storms passing to our south will shave a couple of degrees off the high and low temperatures. A more significant storm currently in the southern Gulf of Alaska is forecast to move across northern California on Wednesday and the Great Basin on Thursday. Though the bulk of the storm will again move south of our area, it will be large enough to bring a chance of snow showers to our area by later Thursday and Thursday night, though accumulations look meager at this time.

But there is good news in the longer range weather forecasts as the atmosphere reorganizes itself thanks to a large chunk of very cold air breaking away from eastern Siberia starting on New Year’s Day. This will prompt a strong storm to develop in the northern Pacific which subsequently forces a ridge of high pressure to develop over and north of Alaska by next weekend.

Not only are we likely to see a significant winter storm starting around next weekend, but the cold air looks to stick around for a while thanks to arctic air moving southward along the east side of that Alaska ridge. But this scenario is a week away, so enjoy the pleasant start to the first week of the new year, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss what hopefully will be our next major winter storm.

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4 February 2024

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