Thursday, September 22, 2016
The gusty southwest winds observed over Colorado today are due to the large storm currently residing in the Great Basin that is rapidly approaching our area. There may be a chance of showers later today as pieces of energy are ejected from the storm, but the bulk of the precipitation will occur along and behind the strong cold front, which is timed to pass through the Steamboat Springs area Friday morning.
There should be moderate to heavy showers when the front passes, bringing snow levels down to 8000′ or even lower in the heavier cells. Showers will continue intermittently in the cool, moist and unstable flow behind the front on Friday with some accumulating snows likely around pass levels.
Some energy will dig south from another wave traveling westward through western Canada, reinforcing the cold air and contributing to another cool and showery day on Saturday. Additional trailing energy will keep the cold air around for Sunday, though this piece of energy is forecast to keep moving south, causing the storm to elongate and allowing dry air to infiltrate Colorado from north to south during the day. There should be some spectacular scenery as the sun appears over colorful aspen and snow-covered peaks.
With clearing skies on Sunday and a last push of cool air from energy rotating around the backside of the storm forecast to be to our northeast by then, Monday morning will be cold with a hard freeze likely. Temperatures will be slow to recover under sunny skies until Tuesday when a building western ridge brings temperatures back to or above normal. The ridge will likely keep another round of brilliant weather around for most of the rest of the work week.
There is uncertainty in the forecast for the end of the week as some of the southward moving energy from this weekend’s storm meanders south of the Mexican border and possibly coalesces with a tropical storm moving northward from Baja midweek. The southwest flow ahead of another Pacific Northwest storm moving southward from the Gulf of Alaska late in the work week is forecast to move these southern systems into the southwestern US and they may threaten our weather by next weekend.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Enjoy the current spectacular weather since a big change is forecast starting around late Thursday or Friday.
In the meantime, sunny warm days and cool nights will persist for Monday and Tuesday as a flat ridge keeps the dry air around. Meanwhile, to our west, some energy left behind by last week’s Great Basin storm is currently spinning off the southern California coast and will be joined by a tropical storm traveling northward from Baja on Tuesday. An incoming Pacific storm from the Gulf of Alaska will mix with additional cold air in Alaska and move southward along the West Coast early in the week, pushing this warm complex across the southwestern US.
Models have struggled with the northward extent of this complex as it mostly passes to our south, but it appears clouds may be the only affect for northern Colorado by Wednesday, similar to way these events developed over the last half of the summer.
Thursday will be a breezy to windy day with southwest winds as the large Pacific storm makes landfall. A wave ejecting from the storm may bring showers to Steamboat Springs as early as Thursday afternoon, though the most noticeable affects will occur when the cold front associated with the parent storm crosses the area later Thursday or Friday.
The exact timing of the front is questionable as the storm elongates to the north and south as energy ejects in both those directions, but models agree that significant cooling accompanied by precipitation will occur for a couple of days, most likely Friday along and behind the front and Saturday when trailing energy keeps showers going in cool, moist and unstable northwest flow. While snow accumulations are a good bet near the top of Mt. Werner, snowflakes could fall to 8000′ or lower by Saturday morning.
Models do have have clearing in continued below normal temperatures by Sunday, though that will be jeopardized if the storm moves slower than currently forecast.
Friday, September 16, 2016
After a cool and unsettled week, dry, sunny and warm days with cool nights return for most of the next week in Steamboat Springs.
While the storm system responsible for last week’s weather has largely moved east of the area, some energy was left behind and is currently residing in the southwestern US and Baja. There was uncertainty in Monday’s forecast regarding this energy and it’s northward extent when another strong Pacific storm kicks it eastward around midweek. Though there is still disagreement, the bulk of that storm looks to stay south of our area, possibly introducing some clouds but likely allowing the beautiful weather early in the week to persist through most of the work week.
The incoming Pacific storm, however, is far more difficult to predict at this time as a complicated pattern consisting of cool air moving southward from Alaska, several waves of additional Pacific energy, a transient building ridge centered in the northwestern US and British Columbia and even a tropical storm moving northward from Baja interact. Current forecasts have the Pacific jet stream eventually undercutting the transient ridge around the end of the work week, allowing the Pacific storm to move eastward and threaten the week of fine weather around late Thursday and Friday.
Incidentally, this is the first event this fall where Pacific energy undercuts a ridge in the vicinity of the Gulf of Alaska, and reflects the growing dominance of a winter-season jet stream. Over the remainder of the fall season, there will battles between a weakening summer-like ridge over the southwestern US and a strengthening winter-like Pacific jet stream. While summer wins the immediate battle, it’s victories will become more sporadic and shorter lived as cold air continues to build in the northern latitudes.
Monday, September 12, 2016
A cutoff low spinning in the western Great Basin will be nudged eastward to northeastward through the work week, continuing the breezy and unsettled weather before drier air is advertised for the weekend.
We will again be susceptible to showers on Tuesday as an ill-defined wave ejects out of the Great Basin low. By Wednesday, the cutoff low begins to move eastward and elongates to our north and south through Thursday, continuing the threat of showers and increasing already breezy winds from the southwest.
The storm finally drags a weak cool front through the area on Thursday, decreasing the winds but again continuing the chance of showers, with some of the storms possibly strong in the vicinity of the front. The cool air may make for a chilly Friday morning, but drier air behind the storm should make for a mostly sunny day.
Some more cool air leaks into the Steamboat Springs area by Saturday morning for another chilly start to the day, but temperatures should warm nicely for a beautiful day as the last bit of the storm moves east of our area.
It looks like another beautiful day for Sunday and possibly Monday before there is model disagreement about a storm to our southwest that may allow for moisture to return to Colorado early in the next work week.
Friday, September 9, 2016
While one trough of low pressure to our north drags a dry cool front through the region today and tonight, another trough crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Sunday and splits, with the southern portion closing off and taking up residence in the Great Basin for the upcoming work week.
The weekend will be sandwiched between these troughs and feature beautiful warm sunny days and quite cool nights with outdoor plants likely needing help to make it through the around-freezing temperatures on Saturday morning.
The southern portion of the split will force our winds to back from the current northwest to southwest by Sunday night, allowing a tap of subtropical moisture to flow over Colorado. A cool front associated with the passing northern part of the split on Monday will likely enhance showers by the afternoon that may extend into the evening as it swings through the area.
Though the heaviest showers will pass as the northern part of the split moves east of the area on Monday, the lumbering Great Basin low will allow moisture to remain over our area, continuing the chance of afternoon showers through most of the work week.