Winds to slowly decrease overnight but breezes to last through the weekend

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Temperatures are in the upper thirties in Steamboat Springs and mid-teens at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under mostly sunny skies this Thursday mid-afternoon. Not that you could ride a lift to the top today, or even to mid-mountain, as most lifts were stopped and the rest slowed thanks to the very strong and gusty winds from the east. These winds will slowly decrease overnight and Friday before picking up a bit on a warmer afternoon and staying breezy for the rest of a seasonable weekend.

A strong eddy of low pressure currently located near Las Vegas is trapped underneath a ridge of high pressure centered over Vancouver. Air drawn toward the low pressure of the eddy is responsible for our easterly wind today that gusted as high as 62 mph at 7:05 am and the impressive snowfall amounts in the foothills of the Front Range in a so-called upslope event. The winners so far are Aspen Springs by Central City with 45.5” of snow as of noon and 35” of snow by Genesee, and they are not done yet!

The strong and gusty winds over our area are due to a mountain wave forming over the Divide thanks to the easterly winds being forced over the mountain barrier. Additionally, the upward propagating energy of the wave is being reflected from a critical layer aloft, where the wind speed switches from easterly to westerly. The reflected energy contributes to wave-breaking, which can be visualized as ocean waves crashing on a beach.

Winds should slowly decrease overnight and might even become calm by sunset on Friday as the eddy moves southwest toward northern Baja. High temperatures should reach right around our average of 44 F as skies clear through the morning.

But the eddy is not done with us yet as a wave of energy currently traveling over the Vancouver ridge heads toward the Northern Plains by Saturday and encourages the eddy to wobble to the northeast. Winds from the east look to pick up again Friday night as the eddy draws closer, though much less intense than today, with average wind speeds around 15-20 mph and gusts twice that possible through the weekend.

Some dry air sandwiched between the eddy and the Vancouver wave will start Saturday mostly sunny with high temperatures around average before clouds increase later in the day thanks to moisture on the northeast side of the wobbling eddy. There may even be some light showers overnight as this moisture reaches its northern extent before mostly sunny skies and continued average temperatures return on Sunday as the eddy slowly retreats to the southwest.

Forecasting the movement of an eddy underneath a ridge of high pressure is notoriously difficult due to the absence of any well-defined steering flow, and small wobbles in the position of the eddy will affect the amount of clouds and sun we see during the weekend, and beyond.

Right now, a nice start to the work week is forecast with warming temperatures reaching near fifty degrees by Tuesday. That eddy eventually does look to restart its eastward journey by midweek thanks to incoming Pacific energy, with that Pacific energy eventually bringing the chance for precipitation back to our area around the end of the work week.

So enjoy what should be a pleasant weekend, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for more details on our next chance for precipitation.

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17 June 2018

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