Monday, March 31, 2014
Though the powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak read just under 4” at 5 am, the Steamboat ski area reported 6” mid / 7” up top for the morning report, and I measured 4” on my deck. I’m at a loss in explaining why the powdercam did not reflect the reported measurement since they are located in close proximity.
The snow on the upper mountain was wind affected, and the runs with a western aspect were inconsistent. However, areas protected from the wind skied creamy and bouncy, as the snow that fell last night was relatively dense.
Surprisingly, the best run I found on the front side of the hill was High Noon down to Rolex. High Noon had been recently groomed and there was a nice layer of fluff on top of a soft surface. And the snow had blown into the right side of Rolex, especially in the lower half of the run. There I found the 7” advertised on the report, and it was only lightly skied, probably due to the visibility being far less than optimal on the open runs. It was so good I did a five runs in a row before finally moving on!
Trees skied OK, but really any place you could find that was consistent skied great. And with that in mind, I was able to ski North St. Pats relatively early in my ski day, and was rewarded with an untracked line down the right side of the main pitch. Deep and steep bottomless turns were some of the best of the day, though there are only so many of them that can fit in the short pitch! I also found great deep snow on the Third Pitch out of Gate 3, though I would caution against venturing in that area without knowledge or guidance, especially since it involves some cliff bands and a 15 minute slog back to the ski area.
This storm will be quickly followed by a complex storm presently just off the coast of northern California that will turn our winds to the southwest by tonight. Several pieces of energy are forecast to be ejected over us in this relatively warm southwest flow even, as main low over California moves southward. Showers on Tuesday will likely remain as rain or a mix at lower elevations in the warming temperatures, though snow should occur above Thunderhead, and I would expect 1-4” to be reported by Wednesday morning.
This pattern persists for Wednesday, though showers will increase and snow levels fall a bit as the main storm moves eastward long the Utah - Arizona border. We will get some cooling on the back side of the storm by late Wednesday as it finally moves east of us, and I would expect around 3-6” by Thursday morning. Snows will likely continue Thursday morning before tapering off by the afternoon.
A transient ridge moves over Great Basin late Thursday / early Friday before another storm enters the west coast on Thursday. There is a fair bit of model uncertainty as to whether this system splits and to what degree, but it appears that this storm helps carve out a persistent trough over the Great Basin. This trough then keeps us in moist and cool northwest flow for a long-lasting snow event, possibly lasting through the weekend and into the next workweek.
Saturday, March 29, 2014
After a beautiful sunny and warm day today, the weather changes Sunday in advance of the next storm. Southwest winds will increase late Sunday morning and afternoon before a moderately strong cold front moves across the area around sunset. We will likely have localized areas of moderate to heavy snow as the front moves through, with light to moderate showers continuing through Sunday night before decreasing and eventually ending by late Monday.
The storms this past Thursday and Friday produced snow at the low end of my forecast, though most of the other resorts in Colorado were at the high end. At this point, I suspect that the lower elevation of the ski area compared to the others may be handicapping our snow totals, and I will have to be more conservative with forecasts as temperatures continue to warm this spring. I would expect 2-5” from this storm by report time Monday morning, with another 1-3” during the day.
A large and organized low in the Gulf of Alaska will move west this weekend and begin to influence our weather soon after the Sunday system departs late Monday. Pieces of energy ejecting from the large system will produce showers for Tuesday and Tuesday night, but the forecast amounts are uncertain as there is disagreement on whether the system splits upon entering the west coast.
The European model keeps the system more coherent and would lead to greater forecast amounts, while the American model currently splits the system, taking most of the energy west and then south of us Wednesday. Unsettled weather will last through much of the work week nonetheless, as it appears the southern system will be close enough to impact our weather as it eventually moves east of us.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
A beautiful day today before 2 distinct waves influence our weather from Wednesday through Friday. An area of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to eject a wave that will first bring high cloudiness and then precipitation into our area on Wednesday. Temperatures will be warm with this first wave, and we may have rain in the valley and snow higher up on the hill later Wednesday before the valley rain turns to snow in the evening. Additionally, the atmosphere may be unstable enough to support thunder with these passing waves, especially Wednesday afternoon.
I would expect up to several inches of heavy snow on the hill by sunset, though the storm will intensify around then, keeping snows going through the night. The relatively warm storm will limit accumulations to 4-8” for the Thursday report before a break between the two storms appears Thursday morning.
This break will be short-lived as the second colder wave affects our area by Thursday afternoon. Moderate to heavy snows are expected by sunset and will continue past midnight. Though model forecasts diminish snows during the Friday morning hours, we may have some Steamboat Magic occur then, boosting snows after the 5-10” Friday morning report. A weak trailing wave passes over the area later Friday keeping lighter snows going through the day for an additional 2-4” before a transient ridge builds bringing warmer and drier weather moves over the area Saturday .
The nice weather Saturday gives way to another quick-moving wave for Sunday. Precipitation should be heaviest in the morning before decreasing in intensity during the afternoon and may last until midnight, with rain or a rain / snow mix in the valleys.
Another transient ridge brings nice weather for Monday of next week before another major storm begins affecting our area around Tuesday afternoon.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Interactions between waves traveling around the west side of the ever-present Hudson Bay vortex and Pacific disturbances undercutting the remnants of the west coast ridge will bring unsettled weather to our area starting tomorrow afternoon.
The first mostly dry wave brings some cooling tonight and tomorrow, but precipitation will hold off until late Friday when some more cool air in western Canada is drawn into a Pacific wave traveling over our area on Saturday. Current model trends forecast a stationary front over our area during the day, and precipitation will be focused in the vicinity of this oscillating boundary.
There is a fair bit of uncertainty to the exact location of this front, but current model guidance shows light snow starting late Friday evening and intensifying Saturday morning before tapering off late in the day. We may have an inch or so of snow Saturday morning with an additional 2-5” falling during the day, which will be reported Sunday morning.
Some dry air works into the area Sunday for a nice day, but precipitation begins again very early Monday morning as another Pacific wave drags some more cool air over our area during the day Monday. This one is currently forecast to be a bit cooler and drier, but again there is some uncertainty due to the amount of cool air injected into the system. Currently, I expect 1-4” of snow during the day.
A trailing wave passes north of our area later Monday keeping temperatures on the cool side early Tuesday before a transient ridge brings sunny weather and warming for later Tuesday and Wednesday. However, this break will be short-lived as the west coast ridge disappears allowing significant Pacific energy to move inland. This looks to be a long-lived pattern change as I see a very active spring pattern through at least the first week of April. The first storm of this pattern is currently timed for around Thursday.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Clouds have overspread our area ahead of a strong cold front expected to pass through the area later this afternoon towards sunset. This system will bring sharply colder temperatures tonight and tomorrow, and snows lasting through Wednesday morning. Additionally, northwest winds will increase later today and likely last through much of the night, though the Steamboat ski area is fairly well protected from northwest flow. I would expect 2-4” by tomorrow morning and an additional 3-6” by Wednesday morning as a trailing wave passes over our area late Tuesday to keep snows going through the night. This storm may be similar to the one last Tuesday which produced outstanding skiing during the day.
Skies should clear later Wednesday and temperatures warm as a small ridge builds over our area. This pleasant weather should last into the weekend before a grazing wave to our north brings slightly cooler temperatures and some upward forcing to the region that might sustain showers later Saturday and possibly into Sunday.
Another ridge builds into our area after the weekend for a nice few days, but it appears March will go out like a lion as additional energy from the Pacific interacts with the still present and very cold Hudson Bay vortex.