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Strong winter storm to start Saturday night, preceded by high winds

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Temperatures in the town of Steamboat Springs are near freezing under brilliant blue skies this Thursday noon, on their way to around forty degrees. While we may sneak in some more sun on Friday with similar temperatures, a powerful winter storm will first bring clouds and very windy conditions on Saturday before the snows start on Saturday night and persist through the rest of the weekend, and possibly beyond.

A strong and cold storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is bringing heavy precipitation to the Pacific Northwest and is forecast to begin moving through our area by Saturday night. We may sneak in another nice day on Friday with some passing clouds, breezy winds and high temperatures in the low forties, just above our average high temperatures of 39 F.

Similar temperatures are forecast for Saturday under overcast skies, but increasingly windy conditions are forecast with mountain-top winds averaging as high as 30 mph with gusts approaching 70 mph by the afternoon that will continue into the evening.

Weather forecast models are still struggling with the mid-weekend storm, but right now it looks like the storm will move over our area in pieces, with the first piece bringing a cold front through our area Saturday night and starting the snows that will continue through the day Sunday.

We could see 5-10” of snow by the Sunday morning ski report at mid-mountain, with another 3-6” falling during the day, and half that in town. Winds will decrease on Sunday, but still remain stout from the west as the leading edge of the storm passes to our northeast. High temperatures in town will fall into the upper twenties with upper teens expected near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort.

The main part of the storm is forecast to move through our area later Monday, though the southern extent of the storm and its proximity to our area are still uncertain. There is a chance that the cold front associated with the main storm may stall near or over our area on Monday, continuing moderate to heavy snows during the day, or graze our area to the north. If it snows hard on Monday, snow showers look to taper off overnight and be followed by a very cold Tuesday morning.

The early work week weather forecast is subject to change in the coming days, so be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for updates on this powerful winter storm that may start the work week.

Significant winter storm to start warm on Monday and end cold by Wednesday

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Temperatures are approaching thirty degrees on their way to forty degrees under brilliant blue skies this Sunday noon in Steamboat Springs. Enjoy the pleasant weather today since a strong and complex winter storm will start warm on Monday with high winds and a possible wintry precipitation mix in town. A cold front arriving early Tuesday will be accompanied by possible snow squalls and difficult driving conditions during the day with total accumulations between ten and twenty inches expected at the Steamboat Ski Resort by a cold Wednesday morning, and half that in town. Skies should clear on Wednesday with warming temperatures starting Thursday and continuing into the weekend.

An eddy of low pressure is currently located off the coast of central California while an intensifying and cold storm is moving southeastward through the Gulf of Alaska. Both storms are attended by atmospheric rivers, with the eddy grabbing moisture from near Hawaii in the so-called Pineapple Express.

Weather forecast models are still struggling with the interaction between these two storms, but right now at least a piece of the eddy is forecast to merge with the very cold Gulf of Alaska storm over the Great Basin on Monday. Energy and moisture ejecting out ahead of the leading piece of the eddy will bring cloudy skies by early Monday morning with possible showers breaking out during the day, along with winds as high as thirty miles per hour gusting to sixty miles per hour from the west and southwest by the afternoon. While we could see some snow on the hill during the day, precipitation in town may be a rain-snow mix especially if it falls in the afternoon.

A cold front associated with the Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to move through our area between midnight and Tuesday morning. Expect the high temperature of the day to occur at midnight, with temperatures near the top of the hill falling into the single digits by sunset and temperatures in town falling into the teens.

Snowfall rates will become heavy along and behind the cold front with possible snow squalls and thunder-snow thanks to the high winds and unstable atmosphere. Snowfall rates between one and two inches per hour, or even higher, are expected at times through the morning and into the afternoon, thankfully along with decreasing winds. We could see 3-6” by the Tuesday morning mid-mountain ski report with an additional 6-12” falling during the day, and half that in town.

Cold temperatures around zero degrees are forecast for Wednesday morning at all elevations, around ten degrees below the average low temperature in town of twelve degrees. And as is often the case behind storms from the northwest, favorable northwest winds, lingering moisture and an unstable atmosphere could leave another 1-4” overnight.

Meanwhile, another large and cold storm is forecast to form in the Gulf of Alaska by midweek. While we likely won’t see precipitation from this storm until late in the weekend or early the following week, winds will turn to be first from the west behind the departing storm on Wednesday and southwest ahead of the approaching storm by Thursday. While Wednesday will still be on the chilly side with high temperatures in town relegated to the mid to upper twenties, around fifteen degrees below our average of 39 F, we should be near average on Thursday, and into the low forties by Friday as the southwest winds carry warmer air over Colorado.

Enjoy the weather whiplash to start the work week, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll have more details about the start of the weekend and our next significant winter storm including whether it looks to arrive on Sunday or Monday.

Beautiful weekend on tap

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The nine and a half inches of new snow at mid-mountain and fifteen inches up top at the Steamboat Ski Resort that was reported this Thursday morning has been augmented by around two inches of snow that continued to fall through the morning. Peeks of sunshine have appeared this mid-afternoon as temperatures hovered around freezing in the town of Steamboat Springs. There may be some snow showers around tonight but mostly sunny skies should be overhead by Friday afternoon and last through a beautiful weekend ahead of another possibly significant winter storm starting as soon as Monday.

A ridge of high pressure currently centered over Nevada has built ahead of a storm in the form of an eddy off the coast of northern California. The eddy is forecast to move southwest and loiter off the coast of central California through the weekend. Additionally, a wave of cold air from eastern Siberia is forecast to quickly move across the northern Pacific through the weekend before mixing with more cold air sourced from near the Arctic Circle in western Canada on Sunday.

Lingering moisture in our favorable winds from the northwest in advance of the Nevada ridge of high pressure may keep higher elevation snow showers going this evening with an additional 1-4” possible overnight.

The ridge of high pressure is then forecast to briefly flatten thanks to a storm moving across western Canada on Saturday before reforming over the Desert Southwest for the weekend. While the California eddy is eventually forecast to ingest some tropical moisture late in the weekend, the warm and dry southwest flow ahead of the eddy until then will bring mostly sunny skies to our area by Friday afternoon that will persist through the weekend. After another day of high temperatures in the low thirties on Friday, they will warm into the upper thirties on Saturday and low forties on Sunday which is around five degrees above our average of 37 F.

Enjoy the beautiful weekend since a winter storm is advertised to start as early as Monday. While weather forecast models agree that the Siberian wave will intensify as it mixes with more cold air from western Canada and also agree that the wave will eventually force the California eddy into the West, they disagree on the details of this interaction. There is a chance that tropical moisture from the eddy will overrun the cold Siberian air which would eventually bring significant low-density powder to our area. So be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon to see how the storm is shaping up and how much snow we may expect.

Good precipitation chances along with warming temperatures for most of the work week

Sunday, February 18, 2024

After chilly low temperatures of -10 F near the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort and -6 F at the Bob Adams airport this Sunday morning, the base temperature has warmed to the mid-teens under cloudy skies as of noon. A quick-moving disturbance responsible for the clouds this morning will bring light snow showers from this afternoon through this evening ahead of a mostly sunny Washington’s Birthday. But precipitation chances return on Tuesday and Wednesday thanks to a warm and moist pattern that will bring some liquid precipitation to town and snows to the mountain.

A deep low pressure system currently extends from the Gulf of Alaska to the south while a broad ridge of high pressure sits over the Baja peninsula. The low pressure area is composed of two circulation centers; one over the Gulf of Alaska and another off the coast of northern California. A wave of energy and moisture that earlier ejected from the southern low pressure area is currently moving through the Great Basin and should start light snow showers by this afternoon that continue through the evening.

I would expect 1-4” to be reported on the Monday morning mid-mountain ski report along with clearing skies that should bring a mostly sunny day for Washington’s Birthday.

A strong storm currently over the Aleutian Islands is forecast to move to the east and force a complicated reorganization of the low pressure system while that ridge of high pressure over Baja builds over the Desert Southwest early in the work week. Additionally, the southern end of the low pressure system has tapped a band of subtropical moisture in another atmospheric river event that will first bring copious precipitation to most of California on Monday.

There is still considerable weather forecast model disagreement on the proximity of the remnants of the atmospheric river to our area, though the more pessimistic American GFS has trended toward the wetter European ECMWF over the last couple of days thanks to a weaker ridge of high pressure over the Desert Southwest.

If the wetter forecast verifies, we can expect precipitation to start early Tuesday with snow on the hill and snow turning to a rain-snow mix or even all rain in town by Tuesday afternoon. Precipitation will likely revert to snow in town by Tuesday night and we could see 2-5” of dense snow by the Wednesday morning mid-mountain ski report.

Meanwhile, that low pressure off the West Coast will have completed its reorganization and is forecast to quickly move across the West Coast early Wednesday, the Great Basin by midday and near our area by the afternoon. Temperatures should be marginally cooler than Tuesday sparing us the possible rain in town in favor of snow or a rain-snow mix. But a still-dense snow on the hill could leave 2-5” during the day with another 2-5” overnight for a 4-10” Thursday morning mid-mountain report.

Slightly cooler temperatures on Thursday will keep the snow showers at all elevations lingering during the day with some additional accumulations possible on the hill. Snows should end by later Thursday ahead of a transient ridge of high pressure that is currently advertised to bring a mostly sunny weekend. Those few days of nice weather look to be short-lived as the storm door opens again after the weekend thanks to that Aleutian storm and additional upstream energy.

So enjoy the changeable work week weather, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see if the sunny weekend forecast holds and if the storm pattern for the following work week is still on track.

Snows restart around noon and last through Friday night

Thursday, February 15, 2024

After five inches fell at mid mountain and six inches up top at the Steamboat Ski Resort on Wednesday, cloudy skies and a temperature of 29 F are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday midmorning. Two waves of moisture and energy centered on this afternoon and later Friday will bring periods of snow between noon today and Saturday morning with ten to twenty inches of snow expected over the two days. Skies should briefly clear on a cooler Saturday before another weaker wave restarts snow showers later Sunday and overnight.

A compact ridge of high pressure currently sits over the Yukon. One wave of energy and moisture that earlier moved underneath the ridge and across the Gulf of Alaska and eventually the Great Basin is on our doorstep, and moderate to sometimes heavy snow showers are expected to start soon after noon today. We could see 2-5” accumulate at mid mountain during the day and that again during the evening.

Another wave that earlier traveled over the ridge and down the eastern side has formed a small eddy currently over the Pacific Northwest, and part of it is forecast to move over our area later Friday and overnight. Snow showers will decrease or possibly end for a time later tonight and early Friday before they intensify again later Friday and overnight.

This second set of accumulations starting Friday will be fluffier as cold air brought from the Yukon decreases the density, and I would expect 5-10” of snow to be reported on the Saturday morning mid mountain ski report, with some of that falling during the previous day.

Weather forecast models are struggling with the amount of cold air that will be over our area by Saturday morning, with a 75% chance of low temperatures both in town and the mountain between 5 F and 17 F. There are also low chances for subzero temperatures which is an abnormally large range for a a weather forecast only two days away.

We should see the sun reappear by Saturday afternoon for a classic picture perfect powder day before clouds increase by Saturday night as another weak wave of energy and moisture sneaks under the ridge and moves towards our area. Current forecasts have light snow showers starting by Sunday afternoon and continuing overnight with 2-5” possible on the Monday morning report.

So enjoy the snowy start to the long holiday weekend, and what should be a beautiful winter day on Saturday, and check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for an update on the snow totals expected for Monday morning and a look ahead to a possible midweek storm.

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21 June 2019

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