Warming temperatures for a nice weekend

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.

The three occurrences of super El Niños since 1950, when sea surface temperature records began, and the 2023-2024 NCAR predictionSince 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.

Snow Water Equivalent for the Yampa-White-Little Snake basin highlighting the current winter vs. the 1997-1998 and 2015-2016 wintersThe 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.

Increasing winds ahead of midweek snow

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.

Clearing skies and warming temperatures for the weekend

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.

Plenty of sun and warming temperatures through the work week

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Temperatures are only in the upper twenties in the town of Steamboat Springs and ten degrees near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under mostly cloudy skies this Sunday mid afternoon. After near record low temperatures Monday morning, the sun returns for most of the work week and temperatures grudgingly rise from the mid thirties today and Monday toward the mid fifties by Thursday.

A ridge of high pressure is currently just off the West Coast while a deep and cold trough of low pressure extends from Hudson Bay through our area and all the way to Baja. Winds between these high and low pressure systems are from the north and northwest and are continuing to carry very cold air originally sourced from the arctic overhead.

But the accumulating precipitation associated with the wintry storm has ended even as clouds and some flurries linger in the cold and unstable flow from the northwest after leaving around three inches in town and eleven inches at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort. The arctic air mass left behind means high temperatures today will struggle to reach freezing even with peeks of sun.

The ridge of high pressure is forecast to weaken and move slowly east through the work week thanks to an active Pacific jet stream. The likely clearing skies by tonight will conspire with the fresh snow cover to produce low temperatures in the low single digits on Monday morning, approaching our low temperature record of zero degrees for the date, with the favored low lying reaching the subzero realm.

The cold start to Monday means another cold day with high temperatures in the thirties despite the abundant sunshine. But the warmer air mass associated with the approaching ridge of high pressure will allow both low and high temperatures to slowly rise through the work week with forecast low temperatures rising to the upper single digits on Tuesday morning, mid teens on Wednesday morning and approaching our average of 21 F on Thursday morning.

Likewise, the high temperatures will also rise toward our average of 50 F by Wednesday, with the high temperature in the mid forties for Halloween requiring an extra layer under the costumes of the trick-or-treaters.

The high temperatures for Thursday will even be around five degrees above average before a series of weakening Pacific storms approach our area beginning around the end of the work week. While we will see increasing clouds as soon as later Thursday, whether we see any precipitation is still being sorted out in the weather forecast models. So enjoy the sunny weather to start the work week and check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for details on the coming weekend weather.

Wintry weather to last through the weekend

Thursday, October 26, 2023

After temperatures reached the upper fifties by noon with periods of sun on this Thursday in Steamboat Springs, they have plummeted and the snow has started by mid afternoon. This first wave of snow will mostly end by this evening with a break on Friday before a stronger second wave brings additional snow and cold on Saturday that should last into Sunday.

A ridge of high pressure currently extends from Alaska southward along the West Coast while a deep and cold trough of low pressure extends from Hudson Bay southwestward toward the Desert Southwest. The first of two waves of snow is currently moving through our area, and the very noticeable cold front was marked by sharply falling temperatures after the high temperature of the day of 58 F was reached at the Bob Adams airport at 1:35 pm.

Snow is already accumulating on the non paved surfaces as of 4:30 pm, and we should see around an inch in town and several inches on the mountain as the snow ends around mid evening along with the departing wave.

Friday should actually be a relatively pleasant but cool day with periods of sun and high temperatures reaching around fifty degrees, which is a bit below our average of 54 F. And I mean relative to the gorgeous weather of the past work week with the high temperature reaching 75 F on Sunday and 69 F on Monday.

Don’t be fooled by the nice Friday since a stronger and colder second wave is forecast to move across Idaho early on Saturday and eventually across our area later Sunday. Energy rounding the base of the wave is forecast to carry Pacific moisture over our area and will restart snowfall by Friday night.

As the wave moves into the Great Basin Saturday and Saturday night, persistent snowfall becomes established over or near our area along a stationary front that separates the cold air to our north from the warmer air to our south.

Snowfall looks to continue into Saturday night before tapering off on Sunday, with several inches possible in town and 8-16” possible at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Travel over Rabbit Ears Pass will likely be difficult during the height of the storm between Friday and Saturday nights.

While the forecast today indicates the snowfall will taper off on Sunday, it could end earlier or later in the day as weather forecast models often struggle with the progression of stationary fronts. Regardless, unseasonably cold air will follow the second wave carrying an associated arctic air mass overhead, with high temperatures reaching only near forty degrees on Saturday and near freezing on Sunday.

But the low temperatures will eventually be mid winter-like, with Sunday morning in the teens and, if the skies clear as forecast later Sunday night, Monday morning near zero degrees. This is over twenty degrees below our average of 22 F, and even below the 5 F average low temperature in January!

The ridge of high pressure off the West Coast is forecast to slowly move overhead through the next work week, so the early Halloween weather forecast is cold and dry as temperatures only slowly modify. But be sure to check back as I’ll have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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21 June 2019

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