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Springlike break in the winter weather

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Sunday morning clouds have dissipated late this afternoon in Steamboat Springs allowing the temperature to reach 39 F under sunny skies. After another cloudy morning on Monday, expect lots of sun and temperatures warming into the forties through midweek for a taste of spring. Unsettled weather may be back in the forecast starting at the end of the work week depending on the track of an incoming warm Pacific storm.

A ridge of high pressure currently over the West is sandwiched between a vortex of cold air centered over Hudson Bay and a broad trough of low pressure centered over the Aleutian Islands that extends southward toward Hawaii.

Some energy traveling over the top of the ridge of high pressure and down its eastern side will graze our area tonight, bringing clouds and perhaps a few snowflakes to the Steamboat Ski Resort. But like today, the sun should appear by Monday afternoon and allow high temperatures to end up a few degrees warmer than today.

Mostly clear skies should bring high temperatures in the mid foties by midweek, around fifteen degrees above our average of 31 F, while the clear overnight skies will allow the low temperatures to drop to the mid teens, about ten degrees above our average of 6 F.

A storm is forecast to develop on the southern end of that Aleutian low pressure area early in the work week. Not only will this storm draw moisture from around Hawaii in an atmospheric river nicknamed the Pineapple Express, but the incoming storm will shift the ridge of high pressure toward the Northern Plains where the Hudson Bay vortex of cold air will halt its eastward progress.

Typical of an El-NiƱo weather pattern. the wet and warm Pacific storm is forecast to first bring likely heavy precipitation to the West Coast before eventually moving eastward underneath that ridge of high pressure by the end of the work week.

Weather forecast models disagree on how far south the storm will eventually move and how severely the storm splits as it it crosses the West Coast, with the American GFS bringing the storm further south across the Desert Southwest compared to the more northward biased European ECMWF.

Unfortunately for our area, if the storm ends up too far south, then it’s possible we won’t see any precipitation. However, the more northern solution from the ECMWF currently has significant precipitation starting around the end of the work week and continuing into next weekend.

So enjoy the gorgeous several days of coming springlike weather, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details on the incoming storm.

Friday snow chances fizzling

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Temperatures are in the low thirties under mostly cloudy skies this Thursday noon in Steamboat Springs. Snowfall chances for Friday have considerably diminished as an approaching storm looks to stay mostly south of our area, but some sun on Saturday and warming temperatures for Sunday and most of the next work week are still in the weather forecast.

A broad trough of low pressure currently extends from the West Coast across the Mississippi River Valley. A weak storm in Nevada will be guided mostly south of our area as it moves through the low pressure area, with showers possible from this afternoon through Friday. Accumulations will be hard to come by, with a only modest chance of up to several inches of snow occurring at mid mountain by later Friday at the Steamboat Ski Resort.

The storm will move through New Mexico early on Friday and Texas later in the day, and will eventually be responsible for the rain likely around Baltimore on Sunday for the AFC Championship Game. But after some cool air behind the storm briefly visits our area Saturday morning, a ridge of high pressure moves over the West that will be with us for most of the rest of the work week.

Some sun will be around for Saturday, but moisture moving through the ridge of high pressure will bring the clouds back for most of Sunday, with high temperatures in town rising from the low thirties to start the weekend, just above our average of 30 F, to the upper thirties to end the weekend.

Warming temperatures around the forty degree mark are forecast to start the work week with increasing sunshine, and we could see low forties by midweek. Enjoy the break in the winter weather as longer range weather forecast models have a cooler and wetter pattern advertised starting by next weekend, and I’ll be back Sunday afternoon with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative to update that possibility.

Mild and unsettled weather to continue through the work week

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Temperatures are right around freezing this Sunday mid afternoon with occasional snow flurries. The clouds and mild temperatures will be with us through the work week thanks to a series of relatively warm and disorganized Pacific weather systems. While we may see flurries through this period, we should see some meager accumulations for the Monday, possibly Thursday, and Friday morning ski reports.

A mild Pacific jet stream extending from the Dateline across the West has displaced the arctic air mass that was over our area last week. Pieces of a storm currently over the Aleutian Islands will combine with the Pacific jet stream to bring several disorganized waves of energy and moisture over the West through the work week. While we may see flurries throughout the entire period, the best chance for some accumulating snowfall on the mid mountain ski report at the Steamboat Ski Resort will be Monday, possibly Thursday, and Friday mornings.

The first wave moving overhead now and a second one currently moving through southern Utah should keep very light snows over the mountain through Monday morning, leaving 1-4” for the morning mid mountain ski report.

Though there may be an occasional flurry, mostly dry weather under cloudy skies is likely for Tuesday and Wednesday. A third wave looks to take a more southern route through the Desert Southwest on Wednesday, with some trailing energy later Wednesday bringing weak winds from our favorable northwest direction, which may be enough to leave an inch or two for the Thursday morning report.

A fourth wave is then forecast to move more directly through our area between Thursday and Friday afternoons and will likely produce the best accumulations of the week, perhaps in the 3-6” range. But that is currently a tenuous forecast, and I hope to have more certainty by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

And for those looking for a prolonged period of sunny weather, a ridge of high pressure is currently advertised to build over the West and bring those mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures starting around next weekend and continuing through the end of the month.

Unsettled weather takes a break before restarting on Sunday

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Temperatures are just above freezing under cloudy skies in Steamboat Springs this Thursday noon. After receiving eighty inches of snowfall at midmountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort in the last two weeks, the snows will stop through the first part of the weekend before chances for snow restart on Saturday night and continue into the following work week.

Snow Water Equivalent in the Yampa-White-Little Snake drainage basin as of 18 January 2024 as compared to averageOur last storm, which accumulated nine inches on the Thursday morning report at the Steamboat Ski Resort, has brought much warmer temperatures to our area as the arctic air mass was pushed to the east. Those eighty inches helped boost the snow water equivalent for the Yampa, White and Little Snake basin to right around average after 4.5” of water accumulated since January 4th, compared to an average accumulation of 2” during this period. The associated graph shows the current snow water equivalent in black, the median between 1991 and 2020 in yellow and the maximum and minimum measured since the 1985-1986 season.

An approaching ridge of high pressure will keep the snow away through Saturday, but there is a lot of moisture moving through the ridge which will keep clouds around through much of this period, with the best chance of seeing some sun on Saturday.

The ridge of high pressure will be kept moving eastward by a series of relatively mild storm storms moving through the central Pacific. These storms are forecast to move through the West and weaken in a rather disorganized pattern that will bring unsettled weather back to the forecast by Saturday night.

The storms are relatively warm compared to the just-departed arctic outbreak, and will bring chances for only modest snowfall accumulations. We could see 1-4” by the Sunday morning ski report at midmountain, with light snow for much of Sunday contributing another 2-5” by the Monday morning report. And temperatures will be quite mild compared to our recent cold, with high temperatures in the mid thirties in town, around five degrees above our average of 29 F, and mid twenties at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort.

There should be additional chances for some accumulations at times during the next work week, but the weather forecast models are struggling with the speed and position of the incoming impulses of Pacific moisture and energy. So be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where some of those details should be clearer.

Frigid temperatures on Tuesday behind Monday snow and ahead of midweek snow

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Temperatures are in the low twenties this Sunday mid afternoon in Steamboat Springs as light snow showers continue. Snows should pick up again tonight and last through Martin Luther King Jr. Day as an arctic front sweeps through the area during the day. Frigid temperatures follow on Tuesday with lows in the negative teens at all elevations, though the appearance of the sun will help make a cold day feel warmer. The break in the weather will be brief as another storm similar to the one last night restarts snow showers on Wednesday that last into Thursday.

The overall weather pattern has changed little in the last week with ridges of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska and Greenland still sandwiching a deep and very cold vortex of air that extends across Canada and covers most of the United States. The strong temperature difference between the warm air in the Gulf of Alaska and bitterly cold air associated with the vortex has fueled a strong jet stream that brought high winds to our area starting on Friday.

And though wind speeds have decreased after Saturday morning, they are still strong with Storm Peak Lab near the top of the Steamboat recording winds of 28 mph gusting to 38 mph this afternoon. Unfortunately, as experienced by those who were in the snow today, these winds adversely affected the approximately 16” of snow that fell between last night and this noon.

These winds will also be here tonight as a lobe of energy and moisture rotates around the vortex of cold air, eventually bringing an arctic front through our area starting Monday morning. High temperatures of the day will likely occur at midnight tonight and fall through the day, and winds look to peak very early in the morning with speeds as high as 30 mph and gusts twice that.

These winds will start increasing this evening as snow showers restart thanks to the approaching arctic front, and become moderate to heavy at times overnight before tapering off during the day. Including the 4” that fell this morning after the ski report, expect between 8-16” of new snow on the Monday morning report, with another 2-5” during the day in which mountaintop temperatures fall from around ten degrees in the early morning to zero by noon and -10 F by 6 pm, on their way to around -15 F by Tuesday morning.

Those minus teens look to also be over the town as skies clear overnight, though the mostly sunny skies on Tuesday will make the chilly day feel warmer. The break in the weather will be short lived as a piece of a storm currently over the Aleutian Islands breaks under the ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska and incorporates some subtropical moisture in another atmospheric river event similar to the storm over our area last night.

The timing of the storm is still changing a bit, but right now snow showers are forecast to start during the day Wednesday, perhaps early in the day. Snowfall should peak Wednesday afternoon and overnight, leaving 8-16” by the Thursday morning report, with light snow showers tapering off in the morning.

A ridge of high pressure looks to move overhead for the end of the work week and the beginning of the weekend, though more unsettled weather is advertised for later in the weekend as the ridge keeps moving east. I’ll have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon,

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7 July 2020

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