Monday, January 13, 2014
The Steamboat ski area reported 8” mid and 10” up top at 5am this morning, with about 2” of that coming overnight. Additionally, another 2.5” has fallen between 5am and 9am and it is currently lightly snowing.
The storm yesterday disappointed as a stabilizing and warming airmass not only stopped the snowfall that I expected to continue, but allowed winds to rake the ski area. By 1pm yesterday, much of the upper mountain had wind affected snow and skiing was not that great.
Another subtle wave in moist northwest flow passes over the area tonight, increasing snowfall again. The atmosphere should gradually cool through tomorrow afternoon keeping light snow showers going on the hill even as the valleys see some sun. I would expect 4-8” to be reported in the Tuesday morning report and 1-4” on the Wednesday morning report, all of which will occur during the day Tuesday.
The snows then stop for an extended period as the atmosphere warms and dries as the west coast ridge builds over our area. A grazing cool and dry wave to our northeast on Thursday will knock temperatures down a bit, but it appears the ridge and its associated warm and dry weather will continue through most of next weekend. Mountain slopes will substantially warm, though valleys will be on the cool side as temperature inversions reform and persist.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Snows did not start until almost report time this morning, about 4 hours later than I had been anticipating. However, the Steamboat magic DID occur as scheduled, with 6” of snow falling between 5am and 9am. Temperatures at Storm Peak Lab fell from about 21F to the current 9F during this time while winds have increased from the northwest and currently average about 28mph with gusts to 45mph up top.
We are currently in moist northwest flow that is now expected to last through much of Tuesday, though snow amounts will be minimal by the end of that day. Since we have already received 7” of snow at mid as of 11am, and I expect periods of moderate to heavy snow to continue through today and especially this evening, I would expect a report tomorrow morning between 10” and 20”. This is consistent with yesterdays forecast of 6”-12” if the 4”-8” I expected by this mornings report is shifted to Monday mornings report.
Snow will continue through Monday with varying intensities, producing another 4-8” by Tuesday morning. Then, snow showers are expected to continue on the hill Tuesday as a trailing wave passes over the area, even as the valleys see some sun. Only 1-4” of new snow is expected during the day Tuesday as the airmass stabilizes and dries.
The west coast ridge is expected to build over our area in earnest on Wednesday, interrupted by a grazing cool and dry wave to our northeast on Thursday. It appears the ridge and its associated warm and dry weather will continue through most of next weekend, keeping mountain slopes warm but valleys cold as temperature inversions reform and persist. Model disagreements by the end of next weekend create uncertainty in the longer range forecast.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Another 9” of snow was reported at mid and top this morning, and skies have partially cleared and temperatures have warmed. The last trough in this very impressive storm cycle arrives around midnight tonight, leading to falling temperatures and moderate to heavy snows. I still expect 4-8” for the morning report, but I expect some Steamboat magic during the morning hours, with lighter but still sometimes moderate snow continuing through Monday as additional impulses of energy periodically increase snowfall rates. I’m raising my initial 4-8” by Monday morning to 6-12”, with still an additional 3-6” during the day and overnight Monday that will be reported Tuesday morning.
Snow showers may hang on for some of Tuesday on the hill, even as the valleys see some sun by the afternoon. The atmosphere then warms and dries as the west coast ridge bring gorgeous weather to our area, though a dry and grazing wave will cool temperatures a bit for Thursday and may bring some high clouds.
We should have a stretch of continuing beautiful days as the ridge is currently forecast to dominate our weather through the early part of the next workweek. Models then struggle with how energy from the Pacific interacts with the ridge, so the forecast for midweek will have to wait until models resolve their differences.
Friday, January 10, 2014
The morning report had 6” at mid and 9” up top, with 3.5” at mid falling overnight. By 9am, and additional 2” of snow had fallen at mid and top, and by 11am, another 3” mid and 1” up top had fallen, and it is currently snowing.
Snowfall should increase again this afternoon as a trailing wave passes over the area, producing another 3-6” of snow. Snowfall will rapidly diminish after midnight as the airmass stabilizes and winds increase. Considering that 5” of new snow has already fallen at mid-mountain between 5am and 11am, I’m expecting tomorrow’s report to be in the 8-12” range.
Snowfall will continue to taper off during Saturday and might even end for a short time during the day and possibly into the evening. Sundays forecast storm has slowed a bit, shifting some of my original 6-12” prediction to after the morning report. So I would expect 4-8” on both Sunday and Monday morning to be reported, with most of the snow for Monday occurring during the day Sunday. Snowfall will be becoming lighter but still persistent starting later Sunday and lasting through midnight Monday before ending, likely adding another 3-6” during the Monday that will be reported Tuesday morning.
Dry air and warming mountain temperatures will overspread the area in earnest later Tuesday into Wednesday with beautiful sunny days and cold valleys due to inversions reforming and strengthening. The grazing wave for Thursday may be even further east than earlier forecast, minimizing any cloudiness associated with it as the western ridge rebounds over our area Friday into the weekend.
There are indications that Pacific storms may weaken the ridge and allow energy to move into the west coast and then over our area later in the weekend or early in the next workweek, but lots of model disagreements at this time.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
We are currently in a lull between the departing weak wave last night and the far more impressive wave timed for tonight. Snowfall will be increasing again this afternoon, especially after sunset as the cool air begins moving over the area. Accompanied with moderately strong northwest flow, I would expect 6-12” by Friday morning, with optimistically some Steamboat magic occurring between 5am and 9am. Snow will lighten later in the morning before picking up again later in the afternoon as a trailing wave moves just northeast of the area.
Models have trended further northeast with this trailing wave, reducing expected snowfall late Friday into Saturday and increasing the chance that high winds will impact the ski area. Snow will become lighter by midnight as the air mass warms and stabilizes, and the snow will likely stop for a short time Saturday, though troublesome winds will continue. I might expect another 5-10” by Saturday morning with only a small amount of that occurring after midnight Friday.
The final wave affecting our area by Saturday afternoon is also cool, moist, energetic and from the northwest. Cooling temperatures will help reduce winds later in the day, and I would expect another 6-12” by Sunday morning, again optimistically with some Steamboat magic occurring between 5am and 9am. The morning snows should lighten during the day, but will likely persist through Monday afternoon. Most of the forecast 3-6” of snow by Monday morning will have fallen Sunday.
A dry and grazing wave in northwest flow looks to bring more cool air into the area Monday night, but no precipitation is currently expected. Likely a couple of brilliant sunny days Tuesday and Wednesday as mountain slopes warm, though valley inversion will reform and strengthen. Another grazing wave in northwest flow may bring some cool air into the region around Thursday, though models are currently struggling with the westward extent of this wave.
Big model differences emerge for the next weekend as the American model breaks the west coast ridge down and allows substantial energy and moisture into the central west coast where they desperately need it, while the European model hints that the ridge will dominate.