Storms to bookend this week

Friday, March 4, 2016

The unseasonably warm temperatures will continue through Saturday before a complex storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska affects the Steamboat Springs area Sunday. Ahead of the storm, two weak and precipitation-free waves will pass over the area increasing clouds Saturday afternoon and again Sunday morning.

The main storm in the Gulf ejects a lead storm that crosses the West Coast Sunday morning and brings storm clouds to our area by later Sunday morning. Precipitation may begin by noon Sunday, with the warm temperatures bringing rain showers in the valleys and the lower slopes of the mountain and snow showers at higher elevations.

Temperatures will cool by Sunday night lowering snow showers to the valley floors, but the most persistent snow is likely to be during the day Monday when mountain-top flow veers to the favorable northwest direction. Temperatures will still be on the warm side, so I would expect up to an inch or two of relatively dense snow to be reported Monday morning with an additional 3-6” of dense snow falling mostly during the day and possibly into the early evening Monday.

As this storm passes over the area Monday, the main storm moves southward along the California coast and crosses northern Baja by Monday night, forming a closed low cutoff from the jet stream that is typical of El Nino winters. Though the most persistent snow will be over by then, Tuesday is forecast to be unsettled as we are caught between the departing storm to our northeast and the large cutoff storm to our south.

Drier conditions will ensue for the rest of the work week before a more promising Pacific storm makes landfall around Friday and spreads clouds and possibly precipitation over our area late on Friday.

Parade of weak storm starts Saturday

Friday, February 26, 2016

After another gorgeous day today and a sunny Saturday morning, four relatively weak storms are forecast to affect the Steamboat Springs area starting Saturday night. Clouds will overspread the area Saturday afternoon with light snow developing overnight and lasting through Sunday morning as the first storm moves though in northwest flow, leaving 1-4” for the Sunday morning ski report.

Precipitation will end by Sunday afternoon before starting up again as soon as Monday morning as a stronger and colder storm, also in northwest flow, crosses the area later Monday. Models are struggling with the strength of this system, but current forecasts have colder temperatures and 3-6” by Tuesday morning.

A grazing wave, again in northwest flow, is trending more impactful in current model runs, with very light snows leaving an inch or two forecast during the day Wednesday.

A transient ridge will bring a break in the unsettled weather on Thursday and warmer temperatures before an evolving Pacific storm in the Gulf of Alaska sends a piece of energy over the area around next Friday. There is a great deal of uncertainty with respect to not only how much energy get ejected from the main Pacific storm, but also whether cold air sources in western Canada and possibly Siberia mix with remaining part of the storm the in the Gulf.

Blustery storm today with next significant snow possible Tuesday

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Don’t let the current sunny skies fool you as this is a slot of dry air ahead of the very windy storm timed to cross the Steamboat Springs area late this afternoon. Gusty southwest winds will veer to the west and become stronger around and behind the frontal passage, with several hours of intense snowfall leading to blowing snow and difficult travel conditions around sunset.

Snowfall should be over by midnight, leaving 3-6” on the hill for the Friday morning ski report. Skies will become partly sunny on Friday before a weak wave to our north brings cooler temperatures and the threat of very light snow showers for early Saturday.

Drier air for Sunday promises a sunnier day before moisture increases late Monday ahead of a wave traveling over the West Coast ridge. This is an interesting development since some cold air from the Canadian Plains is forecast to mix with this wave, bringing some snows to the area on Tuesday.

The westward extent of the cold air over the Canadian Plains has been a key variable in our snowfall this winter. From about mid-December through early February, the West Coast ridge associated with El Nino events had been attacked from the west with Pacific energy and from the east by the cold air over the western Canadian Plains. We have done very well with snowfall as the moist Pacific air undercuts the ridge and overruns the cold Canadian air.

These last 10 days have seen the cold air move eastwards, bringing very cold air and winter weather to the East Coast, but leaving the West Coast ridge stronger and warmer, reducing the threat of snowfall for our area. I am hopeful that the cool air for the Tuesday storm marks a westward expansion of the cold Canadian Plains airmass and a return to a more active weather pattern.

Another drier and weaker wave is forecast to cross north of the area around Thursday, but current forecasts have no precipitation associated with this disturbance.

Current storm lasts till Tuesday morning followed by another Thursday afternoon

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A moist northwest jet stream with embedded waves is over the Steamboat Springs area and is responsible for the 2” of snow that fell at the top of Sunshine Peak this afternoon. Continued gusty west to northwest winds up to 40 mph will continue the snow on the hill tonight as a wave moves across, leaving another 3-6” of snow for a 5-8” Monday morning ski report.

Snows will decrease in intensity but continue on Monday as the atmosphere warms slightly behind the departing wave, with an additional 1-4” during the rest of the day.

The last embedded wave moves across our area around Monday evening, cooling temperatures and increasing snowfall rates a bit, with an additional 2-4” overnight.

There may be lingering clouds and possible snow showers early Tuesday behind the wave, but the Great Basin ridge builds over us after that, bringing warm, dry air and sunny skies back over the area by later Tuesday into Wednesday.

A stronger storm over the Pacific is forecast to cross the California coast midweek and spread clouds over our area by Wednesday night and bring snows and moderate westerly winds to the area as soon as Thursday. There is uncertainty with regards to the amount of weakening the storm will undergo as it interacts with the Great Basin ridge, but current forecasts have precipitation peaking Thursday afternoon through midnight, leaving around 4-8” of snow by Friday morning.

Moderate storms bookend the following week

Friday, February 12, 2016

After a sunny Friday and Saturday, a wave in northwest flow brings some moisture and cool air over the Steamboat Springs area Sunday, beginning snows that will last through Monday night. Amounts are uncertain as models are wavering on the strength of this wave and its southern extent, but right now it looks like 3-6” may be reported on the Monday morning ski report, with an additional 1-4” during the rest of Monday.

There may be lingering clouds and possible snow showers early Tuesday behind the wave, but the Great Basin ridge builds over us after that, bringing warm, dry air and sunny skies back over the area by later Tuesday into Wednesday.

A stronger storm over the Pacific is forecast to cross the California coast midweek and spread clouds over our area by Wednesday night and bring snows to the area as soon as early Thursday. There is disagreement among the models as to the strength of this storm, but early forecast amounts by Friday morning are in the 6-12” range.

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30 April 2022

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