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A week of snow starts tonight

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

At least 4 distinct waves will influence our weather starting tonight, with snow in the forecast through next Monday. Light snow should start later today as the first weak wave moves over us tonight. Accumulations will wait until cool air enters the area by midnight. Even though the wave is weak, flow is from the northwest so I would expect several inches of snow in the Wednesday morning report.

There may be very little break between waves Wednesday morning before the next wave passes mostly south of the area by late Wednesday afternoon. Again, several inches of accumulation are expected by Thursday morning as we are in favorable moist northwest flow, though cooling is limited.

Perhaps another small break Thursday morning before the next stronger, but splitting wave approaches the area. This is the storm models have been struggling with these past few days. Initially, the European model had the wave cut off from the main jet and staying south of use (a cutoff low), while the American model kept the wave coherent and progressive. As is sometimes the case when model disagree, current model solutions area average the two earlier disparate solutions, with a splitting wave staying mostly coherent and progressive. As a result, snow should begin again later Thursday afternoon and continue into Friday evening. Amounts will be dependent on how much energy is left in the northern half of the split, but amounts currently look in the 3-6” range.

Even though we will be in-between systems early in the weekend, moist northwest flow in a warming and stabilizing airmass will keep clouds and perhaps some very light snow showers going Saturday morning. The fourth wave will be the strongest and coldest of this series, and will affect our area beginning Saturday afternoon. Snowfall looks to peak early Sunday morning and then again Sunday evening as a trailing wave crosses the area. All told, I might expect 6-12” when the Sunday and Monday morning reports are added.

Current long term forecasts have the snow ending after this final wave as a ridge builds over the area. However, there are some indications that the Hudson Bay polar vortex may again expand westward into this building ridge, leading us susceptible to cold air outbreaks by the end of the workweek.

Winter storm winds down today before before unsettled weather returns midweek

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Currently it is -6F up top with 20 mph winds gusting to 30mph. Very light snow should continue on the hill through this evening as the last arctic surge moves through later this afternoon leading to additional accumulations of several inches by the Monday morning report. Valleys should see some periods of sun.

Ironically, the cold front has warmed the valleys by mixing out the very cold air, but inversions will reform beginning tonight leading to very cold temperatures. Mountain slopes, though, will begin warming tomorrow as we see sun and then warm further on Tuesday as the air arctic air mass moves east.

A couple of weak and disorganized Pacific waves move across the area or just south of the area late Tuesday. Snow may begin late Tuesday or Wednesday and continue until late Wednesday night. The leading wave, though weak, will contain some moisture and will turn the winds to the northwest, so I might expect 3-6” from Tuesday night through Thursday morning.

Perhaps a short break on Thursday before the next stronger wave approaches our area. The American model insists the wave will be progressive which leads to a good shot of snow for Friday, but the European model has this wave splitting as it enters the coast, minimizing or eliminating precipitation for our area.

In either case, both models have another wave timed for late in the weekend which should produce some snow for our area.

Winter storm begins this evening

Friday, January 3, 2014

A strong winter storm approaches the area today with clouds appearing later in the afternoon, and snow showers should begin in the cooling atmosphere by this evening. Periods of moderate to heavy snow should occur through Saturday as the main wave passes through. Snow should become more showery in nature behind the main wave, but at least two distinct reinforcing shots of cold air later Saturday and again later Sunday will keep sometimes heavy snow showers going through the weekend.

I’m a little concerned that the winds could turn westerly Friday night into Saturday and negatively affect the snow quality Saturday morning, but the flow does turn northwest later in the day. Furthermore, unlike the New Years storm, we should have cooling or static temperatures during the entire event which will limit the wind speeds and minimize the damage westerly winds usually cause at Steamboat.

I would guess around 3-6” of wind affected snow by the Saturday morning report. Westerly winds should turn northwesterly by the afternoon as snow showers continue, especially around another surge of cold air currently timed for around sunset. An additional 3-6” of very light and fluffy powder is expected by the Sunday morning report as snow densities fall below 5%. Winds from the northwest will pick up again later Sunday as the last surge of cold air enters the area. Snow showers will end by midnight Sunday after another 3-6”, which will be reported Monday morning.

A series of weak and disorganized Pacific waves move across the area or split around the area beginning midweek, and I expect much milder temperatures and at least some snow from these. Snow may begin late Tuesday or Wednesday and continue to the end of the workweek as a couple of these waves influence the area. Current model solutions have a break next weekend before another storm is forecast sometime late Sunday or early Monday.

Storms every few days to continue

Thursday, January 2, 2014

As skies cleared behind yesterday’s storm, valleys markedly cooled last night. This created another round of temperature inversions that will keep the lower elevations cold before they are mixed out by the next storm on Saturday. Today and most of tomorrow should be mostly sunny with mountain slopes warming far more than the valleys before high clouds appear ahead of the approaching storm later Friday.

Snow showers should begin in the cooling atmosphere by Friday evening as the storm moves over the area. Periods of moderate to heavy snow should follow by Saturday morning as the main wave passes through. Snow should become more showery in nature behind the main wave, but at least two distinct reinfocing shots of cold air later Saturday and again later Sunday will keep sometimes heavy snow showers going through the weekend.

I’m a little concerned that the winds could turn westerly Friday night into Saturday morning and negatively affect the snow quality first thing Saturday morning, but the flow does turn northwest later in the day. Furthermore, unlike the New Years storm, we should have cooling during the entire event which will limit the wind speeds and minimize the damage westerly winds usually cause at Steamboat.

Snow amounts are bit tricky at this point due to the westerly flow in the beginning of the storm, but I would guess around 4-8” each day of the weekend, leading to a storm total of 8-16” by Monday morning.

A series of weak and disorganized Pacific wavess move across the area or split around the area beginning midweek, and I expect much milder temperatures and at least some snow from these. This storm track is currently forecast to continue through next weekend as stronger, but still relatively warm Pacific waves cross the area late in the workweek and again late next weekend.

Snow likely late Friday into Saturday

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I had about 4” on my deck this morning, which matched the 7” mid and 6” top Steamboat phone report (when it FINALLY came out at 8am, EXTREMELY LATE WITH NO APOLOGY OR EXPLANATION) after subtracting the 2” we received during the day yesterday.

I was disappointed we accumulated only a reported 0.25” between 5am and 9am as I was counting on an additional 2-4”, but this storm did not cooperate. Snow showers will continue today before skies clear for Thursday and some of Friday as mountain slopes warm.

High clouds will infiltrate the area by later Friday as the next storm approaches. Snow showers will begin late in the day or evening before intensifying during the day Saturday. The European model has been most consistent in for forecasting a wetter and cooler pattern, and the American models seem to be grudgingly moving toward that solution. If the European solution verifies, snow showers may continue through Sunday as another wave of cool air moves over the area. At this point, model uncertainty is too high to predict snow amounts.

Some clearing should ensue by the beginning of the new workweek before a disorganized wave approaching from the west moves over the area around midweek.

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