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More snow and cold on the way

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Temperatures are approaching twenty degrees under partly sunny skies in Steamboat Springs early this Sunday afternoon after over thirty inches of snow fell near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort between Friday and Saturday afternoons. The unsettled weather pattern that brought this snow looks to continue through at least next weekend with frequent chances for snow and cold.

A sharp ridge of high pressure currently extends from Alaska to the North Pole while a deep and cold trough of low pressure just downstream spans from the North Pole across Canada and most of the U.S. A storm that was over the Pacific Northwest yesterday is forecast to enlarge and travel south into the Great Basin before moving over the Four Corners tonight. Due to the southern track of the storm, the best snows will be limited to our southern neighbors, but snow showers will be possible this afternoon and evening as they move overhead from the southwest.

But the storm is forecast to form an eddy that will turn our winds to be from the east tonight, and an easterly wind usually dooms our precipitation as the air mass dries as it downslopes off the Park Range. Forecast snow amounts are currently unimpressive with 1-4” possible by the Monday morning report.

As the eddy moves to the east, our winds turn to be from the north around Monday afternoon which keeps the cold air over our area. Snow showers leaving minor accumulations should restart with high temperatures in town relegated to around twenty degrees, almost ten degrees below our average of 29 F.

Meanwhile, a storm currently located over the Aleutian Islands is forecast to eject a couple of waves of energy and moisture on Monday that will undercut the ridge of high pressure. These waves are forecast to eventually move over the entrenched arctic air mass in our area on Wednesday and Thursday and bring the chances for moderate to even heavy snowfall along with stout winds first from the northwest and then the west.

But winds from the northwest are the most favorable for Steamboat as the air is lifted up the slopes of the Park Range. So expect snow showers to become moderate to even heavy at times as each wave approaches the area and moves overhead, with 4-8” forecast for both Wednesday and Thursday mornings at mid mountain. And while westerly winds also create beneficial upslope up the Park Range, the ski area faces mostly west and is more exposed to those winds.

Weather forecast models are struggling with the position of the arctic air mass to our north after midweek. It is not yet clear how cold and snowy the weekend will be, but it does look like there will be at least some snow and cold, maybe a lot. So be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll have more details on the weather for the weekend.

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10 July 2020

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