Afternoon shower chances increase to start the week

Sunday, May 21, 2023

A gorgeous spring Sunday is over the Steamboat Springs area with temperatures just above seventy degrees and mostly sunny skies as of mid-afternoon. While temperatures will be similar through midweek, afternoon and evening shower chances increase as moisture from the southwest overruns our area. But shower chances decrease and temperatures nudge upward to end the work week.

A ridge of high pressure is currently centered over the Rocky Mountains while an area of low pressure approaches the Pacific Northwest coast. Clockwise circulation around a high pressure cell in southeast Wyoming has brought winds from the north and northeast over our area, and evidently has carried some smoke from wildfires in western Canada overhead the last few days.

With smoke already affecting our area, I have placed the air quality widget back on the SnowAlarm home page and removed the avalanche map, and have also added the smoke forecasts back to the SnowAlarm website.

The Pacific Northwest low pressure area is forecast to move inland on Monday and split, with the southern part moving southward along the West Coast through midweek before eventually forming some sort of eddy over central California by the end of the work week.

So what can we make of this complicated pattern? Our winds will turn to be from the west on Monday as the Pacific Northwest storm moves inland, and this displaces the high pressure cell to our north and another one currently located in Nevada to the east, and introduces some Pacific moisture. While temperatures won’t change much and mornings will remain mostly sunny, chances for afternoon and evening storms increase.

By Tuesday and Wednesday, moisture increases further for good shower chances after noon and extending through the evening.

The eddy is forecast to move east and eventually loiter over Nevada by the end of the work week. On Thursday, much drier air from the Desert Southwest is forecast to be carried by winds from the southwest ahead of the eddy over our area, substantially reducing the chance of late day showers as we head into the long Memorial Day weekend.

The weather next weekend will be dependent upon the evolution of the Nevada eddy, with the European ECMWF moving the eddy very little or even to the north, leading to a dry weekend, and the American GFS more aggressive in moving the eddy eastward, leading to a wetter late-weekend forecast. So be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see how that eddy is evolving and what weather we may expect for the long Memorial Day weekend.

Pleasant weekend ahead

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Temperatures are around sixty degrees under mostly clouds skies early this Thursday evening over the town of Steamboat Springs after a cool front grazed our area this mid-afternoon. Pleasant spring weather is on tap for the weekend with mostly sunny mornings and modest chances for afternoon and evening showers that may produce more wind than rain.

A ridge of high pressure currently extends from Nevada into Canada while a low pressure area approaches the Great Lakes from the Canadian Plains and another low pressure area spins near Baja. Pieces of the storm from last week have finally resumed normal eastward movement and mixed with a weak cool front associated with the low pressure area approaching the Great Lakes. The end result for our area was a cloudy Thursday afternoon with some sprinkles and temperatures falling from their high of 67 F at 4 pm at the Bob Adams airport to the current sixty degrees.

Moisture will continue to be drawn northward on the east side of the Baja area of low pressure, though its northward extent will barely reach into our area as it battles light winds and dry air from the northwest behind today’s front. We should see mostly sunny mornings from Friday through the weekend with temperatures warming toward seventy degrees on Friday and Saturday and the low-seventies by Sunday, which is about five degrees above our average of 67 F. There will also be modest chances of afternoon and evening showers that may produce more wind than rain thanks to the dry low-level air behind the cool front today.

A piece of a large storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to break away and cross the southern British Columbia coast late in the weekend, and we may see increasing chances for precipitation as early as Monday as moisture is carried northward by winds from the south and southwest ahead the southward moving storm.

But that is after what should be a very pleasant spring weekend in Steamboat Springs, and I’ll have more on the week’s coming weather in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Pleasant and seasonable week of weather ahead

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-sixties are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. A pleasant week of normal spring weather, for a change, is forecast to be over our area with high temperatures warming from the upper sixties to start the work week to just above seventy degrees heading into next weekend. A chance of afternoon and evening showers will be possible on most days, with those chances reduced on Tuesday and Wednesday.

An expansive ridge of high pressure that currently extends from the Gulf of Alaska to the Great Lakes has trapped an eddy that has circuitously traveled first eastward across the Desert Southwest, then northward along the eastern Colorado border and then back westward across the Great Basin. The eddy has only traveled half of what will eventually be a giant ‘S’, starting from the bottom left, with the upper half of the ‘S’ forecast to be traced out this week as the eddy moves from its current position near Oregon back east as it rides through the ridge of high pressure.

The southerly to southeasterly winds on the east side of the eddy has kept moisture from the south over our area, with afternoon shower chances for Mother’s Day today and Monday. High temperatures should be within several degrees of our average of 65 F with a degree or two of warming for Monday.

By then, the eddy is forecast to shear apart as it rejoins the jet stream on the west side of the ridge of high pressure, with the eastern part of the eddy moving back toward our area after midweek. Light winds will shift to be from the west on Tuesday and Wednesday as the eddy regains its normal eastward movement and brings drier air overhead, decreasing shower chances and raising high temperatures close to seventy degrees.

As the eddy moves near our area on Thursday, it may mix with a wave of energy moving southward along the eastern side of the ridge of high pressure centered in Canada. Additionally, a storm in the eastern Pacific that brought the warm air from the subtropics northward and directly caused the ridge of high pressure over western Canada to build is forecast to eject some energy eastward that will eventually form an eddy that settles over the Desert Southwest by midweek.

The counterclockwise circulation around the eddy will once again carry moisture from the south over Colorado, and this will combine with the disturbances just to our north to increase afternoon and evening shower chances for the end of the work week.

Right now, those storms to our north are forecast to clear the area for the weekend, with temperatures warming into the low seventies along with decreasing afternoon and evening shower chances. But there will still be the loitering Desert Southwest eddy that may eventually carry more moisture over our area for increasing storm chances at some point. So be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where the weather for next weekend will be in sharper focus.

Unsettled weather may linger behind a cool and wet Thursday

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

After a sunny morning, mostly cloudy skies and breezy winds with temperatures just shy of seventy degrees are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Wednesday afternoon. Those seventies are not coming back anytime soon as a storm currently approaching the Four Corners brings wet and cool weather for Thursday. The cool temperatures will warm a bit Friday and a bit more for the weekend as the heaviest precipitation ends and becomes more showery.

The eddy I discussed in the last weather narrative on Sunday is currently just southwest of the Four Corners region and some of it is forecast to move along the southern Colorado border through Thursday morning before turning northeast and moving towards Nebraska on Friday.

Those increasing clouds this afternoon will likely produce showers, but with more gusty wind than rain as precipitation evaporates before reaching the ground in the dry lower atmosphere. But as the eddy moves across southeastern Colorado on Thursday, the atmosphere will moisten as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is incorporated into the southerly flow ahead of the storm.

Meanwhile a large storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to elongate towards Hawaii, and the southwesterly winds ahead of the storm will build a large ridge of high pressure across western Canada.

Additionally, a leftover piece of the wave of energy that initially formed the eddy off the California coast on Sunday is forecast to move underneath the building ridge of high pressure and across the northern Intermountain West on Thursday. The southern part of this wave will mix with some of the Gulf of Mexico moisture incorporated into the eddy and bring periods of steady precipitation for Thursday with high temperatures likely only in the forties, fifteen or so degrees below our average of 63 F.

Snow levels will initially be above 10,000′ feet before dropping to as low as 9,000′ feet under the heavier showers, so all rain is expected in town, a rain-snow mix at mid-elevations and eventually all snow at higher elevations, leaving an inch or two near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort by Friday morning.

By then, an odd atmospheric dance is forecast to take place between the eddy to our east and the departing wave to our north, and unbelievably, pieces of both are forecast to merge into a new eddy. This new feature is then forecast to become trapped under the ridge of high pressure and move westward back toward our area on Saturday and eventually through the Great Basin during the weekend! So Friday will see temperatures warm by about five degrees with some showers possible as the eddy moves by our area.

Coincidentally, some energy ejecting out of the southern part of the Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to move across Baja on Friday and draw moisture from the Gulf of Mexico northward through Colorado by Saturday. The combination of the eddy moving westward across the Great Basin and the Gulf of Mexico moisture moving through Colorado means unsettled and cool weather under the clouds. However, there is dry air just to the west of the Gulf of Mexico plume of moisture, and there is uncertainty if this drier air makes it over our area during the weekend for periods of sun.

Temperatures will warm another five degrees for the weekend regardless, and there may or may not be shower chances depending upon the track of the westward moving eddy and plume of Gulf of Mexico moisture.

The possibility of unsettled weather looks to continue into the new work week, but be sure to check back Sunday afternoon for an updated forecast in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative.

Nice start to the work week ahead of possible midweek storm

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Temperatures are in the low fifties under mostly cloudy skies this Sunday mid-afternoon in Steamboat Springs. After some precipitation on both the weekend mornings, shower chances remain this afternoon and evening before the unsettled weather temporarily abates. While Monday still has a chance for afternoon showers, those are gone for Tuesday and the first part of Wednesday before a potent storm brings a chance for significant precipitation on Thursday that may hang around for awhile.

Our current unsettled weather is courtesy of the second part of a wave of energy and moisture ejecting out of a broad trough of low pressure extending from the Gulf of Alaska through the Great Basin. The first wave Saturday morning brought snowflakes to town and 3” to the mid-mountain powdercam at the Steamboat Ski Resort and another 2” this morning before it quickly melted during both mornings.

More showers are on our doorstep and will continue through this evening before the atmosphere warms and slowly dries on Monday. Temperatures will be rise toward our average of 62 F on a mostly sunny day with a slight chance of afternoon and evening showers.

Meanwhile, no less than three disturbances are forecast to move around and through the Gulf of Alaska low pressure area through Monday, with the last one diving southward along the California coast by Tuesday afternoon and forming an eddy just north of Baja.

Temperatures will rise several degrees further on Tuesday for a beautifully sunny spring day as warm and dry air is carried over our area by winds from the southwest ahead of the eddy.

Weather forecast models have struggled mightily with the evolution of that eddy, so there is a lot of room for changes, but right now that eddy is forecast to move from the Desert Southwest on Tuesday night toward the western Colorado border by Wednesday. More dry air ahead of the storm should keep sunny skies overhead through Wednesday morning before first clouds and then shower chances increase by later in the afternoon and evening as the cold front associated with the storm moves through our area.

Our high temperatures on Wednesday will be dependent upon the arrival of clouds, but we could see the warmest temperatures of the week in the mid to upper sixties and perhaps even seventy degrees if the cold front arrives later in the day.

Precipitation will ramp up along and behind the cold front as the eddy moves across Colorado. Even now as I’m writing, the latest weather forecast model guidance has shifted the track of the eddy further south, and the amount and duration of precipitation will be dependent upon the eventual track of that eddy.

Regardless of how much precipitation we eventually get, Thursday is likely to be a raw spring day with high temperatures in town in the forties, with any precipitation falling as dense snow above 9,000′ and rain or a rain-snow mix in town at times.

At this point, due to the extreme uncertainty in the forecast, I am going to reserve any precipitation guesses until Wednesday when I plan to publish my regularly scheduled weather narrative a day early.

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26 September 2019

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