Sunny and cold start to the work week

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Temperatures are in the upper twenties under brilliant sunny skies early this Sunday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. After similar weather on Monday, high temperatures will warm into the upper thirties with continued sunshine on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of a stretch of unsettled weather starting around Thursday.

A ridge of high pressure currently extends northward from the Pacific Northwest through the Canadian Rockies while a deep trough of low pressure extends from the North Pole southward through the Midwest. Behind the departing storm that left four inches at the Steamboat Ski Resort by Saturday morning, three of which fell in only a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, and an additional two and a half inches that fell yesterday through the evening, sunny skies and cold temperatures are overhead as winds carry arctic air southward between the high and low pressure systems.

Not much change to the weather is expected for Monday, with high temperatures staying around five degrees below our average of 37 F and low temperatures ten degrees below our average of 12 F under sunny skies.

A storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to move eastward through midweek and likewise move the ridge of high pressure eastward. The storm is forecast to split with southern end of the storm forming an eddy that moves over northern California by Wednesday. The northern end will then interact with and weaken the ridge of high pressure as the ridge moves overhead on Tuesday, keeping the sunny skies around and raising high temperatures toward forty degrees.

Wednesday will start out similarly though clouds may start to encroach on the area later in the day as the eddy moves first southward across California and then eastward through the Desert Southwest. This storm will favor southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, but will be close enough to mark the beginning of a stretch of unsettled weather that may last through next weekend and into the following work week.

The unsettled weather behind the eddy will be due to a series of relatively warm storms forecast to develop between the Bering Sea and eastern Siberia next week. Light snow showers are possible as early as later Thursday as the eddy skirts to our south, with better snowfall possibly starting Friday as the first of these storms approach our area. So enjoy the beautiful weather to start the work week, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I hope to be talking about how much it will snow rather than if it will snow.

Some snow and much colder temperatures heading into Thanksgiving weekend

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Cloudy skies with temperatures around freezing are over the Steamboat Springs area this mid Thanksgiving morning. After another mild but cloudy day with high temperatures in the mid forties, we should wake up to some snow showers on Black Friday that will become steadier through day and last into Saturday. High temperatures will fall into the upper thirties on Friday, upper twenties on Saturday and struggle to reach freezing on Sunday even as mostly sunny skies return.

A developing storm currently forming an eddy over the Nevada, Utah and Idaho borders is forecast to mix with more arctic air grabbed from the Northern Plains and strengthen before moving eastward across Utah on Friday and Colorado on Saturday.

The storm track is not favorable for our area as upper level winds will be from the southwest and mountain top winds will from the southeast as the storm approaches through Friday. The southwesterly upper level winds will keep relatively dry air originally from the Desert Southwest overhead while the southeasterly mountain top winds will also be dry as they downslope and warm off the Park Range.

So expect another mild day today with high temperatures in the mid forties under mostly cloudy skies. Eventually, upward motion associated with the approaching storm will overcome the dry air and start snow showers tonight first at the higher elevations to our north.

We should wake up to snow showers in town on Black Friday, and those should become steadier through the day as the storm moves through Utah before peaking overnight. High temperatuers on Friday will only make it into the upper thirties, right at our average of 38 F, before falling another ten degrees on Saturday.

Forecast snowfall has unfortunately trended downward over the last few days, with 2-5” expected at mid mountain by Saturday morning and an additional 1-4” through the day as the storm moves through Colorado and winds finally turn to be from the favorable northwest direction, but in a drying atmosphere. The winners look to be just to our north, perhaps over Buffalo Pass, and central and southern Colorado. It will certainly be cold enough for snow in town, with 1-3” of total accumulation possible.

Low temperatures will be in the single digits on Sunday morning, perhaps in the low single digits if skies clear, and high temperatures should warm toward freezing as sunny skies return. After another chilly Monday morning, temperatures will gradually warm through the beginning of the work week under mostly sunny skies as a ridge of high pressure builds to our west.

The nice weather may persist through most of the work week, though there are indications a stormy pattern may emerge by the following weekend. So let’s hope the current storm is an overachiever, and be sure to check back to my next regularly schedules weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for details on a possible pattern change by the end of the coming work week.

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.

Unsettled weather returns mid weekend after a nice Friday

Thursday, November 16, 2023

After rain and then snow showers through the morning in Steamboat Springs, rain showers in town and snow showers above Christie Peak have returned this Thursday mid afternoon with temperatures near forty degrees. Precipitation will taper off through the evening before the sun returns and temperatures warm for a nice Friday and most of Saturday. However, a couple of storm systems bring inclement weather back into our area from later Saturday through Monday.

An eddy of low pressure is currently off the coast of California while a quick moving wave is traversing the Northern Plains. Our precipitation today has been caused by the interaction between energy and moisture ejecting out ahead of the eddy and the southern part of the Northern Plains wave as it passed through the area this morning. The relatively warm air mass associated with the eddy has limited any accumulating snowfall in town, with maybe an inch falling in a short period of time mid morning. Fortunately, the mid mountain powdercam and the upper mountain powdercam were operational during the event and indicated about 3” or so of accumulations.

Showers should taper off through this evening before mostly sunny skies return for Friday and boost the high temperature to near fifty degrees, which is over five degrees above our average of 43 F. Saturday should be similar until the afternoon when increasing clouds will mark the start of the next multiday storm.

A wave currently moving through the western Gulf of Alaska is forecast to mix with some cold air moving southward from Alaska and intensify through the first half of the weekend. The resulting storm is then forecast to kick the eddy now off the coast of California eastward through the Great Basin on Saturday before this trailing storm moves southeastward through the Great Basin on Sunday.

While the eddy is forecast to weaken as it moves across Colorado later Saturday into Sunday, there will be enough energy and moisture to restart the mix of rain and snow showers in town and snow showers on the hill by Saturday night.

These will persist through both Sunday and Monday as temperatures cool thanks to the trailing second storm. The storm track has trended further west and is now forecast to move through Nevada Saturday night, Utah and the Four Corners on Sunday and New Mexico on Monday.

The pair of storms will drop the high temperature on Sunday back to average with an even cooler Monday in the high thirties. But the amount of precipitation is quite uncertain as small changes in the track of the trailing storm will likely lead to large differences in snowfall. Right now, 1-3” are expected in town between Saturday night and Monday afternoon with 5-10” at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort.

I expect those amounts will change over the next few days as the storms make landfall and enter a denser observational network. This will increase the accuracy of the predicted storm tracks and I hope to have a more certain forecast in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon. And as the Steamboat Ski Resort has scheduled Opening Day for Wednesday, November 22, I’ll also be discussing what looks like good chances for snow and cold right after Thanksgiving Day.

More beautiful weather through midweek

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Temperatures are in the mid forties under cloudless skies late this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs. After the last several days with high temperatures in the forties, they will reach the mid fifties starting today and lasting through midweek under mostly sunny skies. The weather looks to turn unsettled starting Thursday with a chance for some passing showers, though what happens after that is unclear.

Super El Ninos vs Season snowfall at the Steamboat Ski Resort Monthly snowfall by year at the Steamboat Ski Resort during super El NinosSnowfall by month at the Steamboat Ski Resort during super El Ninos Before we get to the weather forecast, I’d like to revisit last week’s discussion on the predicted super El-Niño for this winter. I’ve collated three more charts that compare the snowfall recorded at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort during the last three measured events since 1950.

The first shows the seasonal snowfall for each of the events, with the obvious conclusion that stronger El Niños are correlated with higher snowfall. However, beware of extrapolating over only three events, especially since this year is still just a prediction!

The second chart shows the monthly snowfall by year during these three events while the third shows the snowfall by month.

It was tough for me to draw any additional conclusions with these last two graphs, but feel free to chime in with your thoughts in the comments sections below!

Returning to the weather forecast, a ridge of high pressure currently sits over the West while a broad ridge of low pressure extends southward from the Aleutian Islands through the Gulf of Alaska.

Weather forecast models agree that cold air moving southward across Alaska will consolidate this trough into an eddy that is forecast to move south to be off the coast of California by midweek. Additionally, several waves in the northern Pacific jet stream are forecast to skirt to the north of the eddy through the work week, with some or all of these waves interacting with the eddy in some manner.

Until any of these interactions happen, our weather will stay beautiful with warm sunny days and high temperatures reaching the mid fifties, which is around ten degrees above our average. Low temperatures will also warm from the teens these last several days, reaching about five degrees above our current average in the upper teens.

By Thursday, there is considerable disagreement both between and within the weather forecast models as to how much interaction between the northern Pacific waves and the eddy off the California coast occurs. Right now, one wave may grab some moisture from the eddy as it moves through the Gulf of Alaska later Tuesday and graze our area on Thursday, leading to a cooler day with a chance for some showers.

Another more substantial wave may eventually force the eddy inland over the weekend, leading to more cool and unsettled weather. And for those anxious about Opening Day snowfall for the Steamboat Ski Resort scheduled only ten days away on Wedensday, November 22, that more substantial wave may bring a better chance of snowfall in the several days before opening.

There is a lot of time for the forecast to evolve before then, so enjoy the current gorgeous weather and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon with more details on the evolving snow chances starting around next weekend.

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1 April 2018

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