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.

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26 April 2023

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