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Some sun this week after the storm winds down on Monday

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Temperatures are in the upper twenties under cloudy skies late this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs. Snows have briefly stopped but will pick up again later today and tonight as another wave in favorable and moist northwest flow moves overhead. They will become showery and taper off through Monday as the final wave in this storm cycle brushes our area and will be followed by warming temperatures and mostly sunny skies for Tuesday and Wednesday. But snow chances return for Thursday and last into the following weekend as pieces of our next storm move overhead.

Thankfully, winds peaked last night with gusts over 60 mph recorded at the Storm Peak Laboratory near the top of Mt. Werner before the anemometer froze around 3 am this morning. But the winds brought snow, with 10” reported at mid mountain on the 5 am Steamboat Ski Resort report. This is in addition to the 7” reported Saturday morning and the 2.5” reported Friday morning bringing the storm cycle total to 19.5” so far.

But we are not done yet as another significant but less windy wave of snowfall starts later today and lasts into Monday morning, bringing an additional 6-12” for the Monday morning report and about half that in town. Snowfall will taper off on Monday with another 1-4” possible on the hill as a final wave brushes the area Monday afternoon.

After the high temperature struggles to reach freezing in town today, which will be five degrees below our average of 35 F, temperatures will warm to the upper thirties on Monday despite the clouds. The sun will return on Tuesday and Wednesday as a ridge of high pressure moves over the West ahead of another storm forecast to develop in the Gulf of Alaska early in the work week. Temperatures in town should rise to around forty degrees on Tuesday and toward the mid-forties on Wednesday.

But the break in the weather will be short lived as that Gulf of Alaska weakens and moves over our area in pieces between Thursday and Saturday morning. Right now, only light snow showers are expected on Thursday ahead of the stronger piece of the storm on Friday. But the weather forecast models are still evolving, so be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll have some snowfall guesses for the possible end-of-work-week storm and more details about the weekend weather.

Storm cycle to start today and last through Monday

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Mostly sunny skies filtered by high clouds and temperatures in the upper thirties are over Steamboat Springs early this Thursday afternoon. A series of waves developing over the northern Pacific will move overhead through the weekend creating a storm cycle that will start later today and last through Monday. Storm totals could be a foot in town and two feet or more at the Steamboat Ski Resort by the time the cycle ends late Monday, along with difficult travel over Rabbit Ears Pass at times.

A train of moist waves following an eddy that stayed well to our south is forecast to move through our area from the favorable northwest direction starting tonight. While the snows will start with light intensity, they will become moderate to heavy as the stronger waves pass through the area. Snowfall rates as high as an inch per hour at pass level will combine with increasing winds to make travel difficult or even impossible at times, especially from Saturday night through Sunday afternoon.

The leading diffuse wave tonight should only produce 1-3” for the Friday morning ski report, with another 1-3” during the day as a second diffuse waves moves through.

A stronger and more coherent wave is forecast for Friday night through Saturday afternoon which should produce another 4-8” of snow with most of that falling before the Saturday morning report and the rest falling during the day.

The brunt of the storm should occur from later Saturday through the day Sunday, with wind gusts as high as 50 mph and snowfall rates exceeding an inch per hour at times, making this the worst time to travel. Another 4-8” of snow overnight will add to the snow that fell during the day Saturday for a 5-10” Sunday morning report, and another 4-8” should fall during Sunday.

This train of waves is suppressing a ridge of high pressure trying to build in the eastern Pacific, with the result that each successive wave will be a bit warmer than the preceding one. Snowfall to water ratios will start at around 17:1 tonight and Friday night, and decrease to around 15:1 by Saturday night and Sunday and 12:1 by Monday, creating upside-down snow where denser snow overlays lighter snow.

High temperatures in town will be near freezing on Friday and the upper twenties on Saturday before approaching our average of 35 F on Sunday. And as is usual during storm cycles when the clouds act like a nighttime blanket, low temperatures will warm and be above our average of 11 F with mid teens tonight and Friday night and low twenties Saturday night.

Snowfall should taper off from Sunday night through Monday, with a ridge of high pressure bringing nice weather by Tuesday. Enjoy the wintry weekend coming up and the desperately needed snowfall, and be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss snowfall totals so far and have a snowfall forecast for the last part of the storm.

Sunny and cold start to the work week

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Temperatures are in the upper twenties under brilliant sunny skies early this Sunday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. After similar weather on Monday, high temperatures will warm into the upper thirties with continued sunshine on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of a stretch of unsettled weather starting around Thursday.

A ridge of high pressure currently extends northward from the Pacific Northwest through the Canadian Rockies while a deep trough of low pressure extends from the North Pole southward through the Midwest. Behind the departing storm that left four inches at the Steamboat Ski Resort by Saturday morning, three of which fell in only a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, and an additional two and a half inches that fell yesterday through the evening, sunny skies and cold temperatures are overhead as winds carry arctic air southward between the high and low pressure systems.

Not much change to the weather is expected for Monday, with high temperatures staying around five degrees below our average of 37 F and low temperatures ten degrees below our average of 12 F under sunny skies.

A storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to move eastward through midweek and likewise move the ridge of high pressure eastward. The storm is forecast to split with southern end of the storm forming an eddy that moves over northern California by Wednesday. The northern end will then interact with and weaken the ridge of high pressure as the ridge moves overhead on Tuesday, keeping the sunny skies around and raising high temperatures toward forty degrees.

Wednesday will start out similarly though clouds may start to encroach on the area later in the day as the eddy moves first southward across California and then eastward through the Desert Southwest. This storm will favor southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, but will be close enough to mark the beginning of a stretch of unsettled weather that may last through next weekend and into the following work week.

The unsettled weather behind the eddy will be due to a series of relatively warm storms forecast to develop between the Bering Sea and eastern Siberia next week. Light snow showers are possible as early as later Thursday as the eddy skirts to our south, with better snowfall possibly starting Friday as the first of these storms approach our area. So enjoy the beautiful weather to start the work week, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I hope to be talking about how much it will snow rather than if it will snow.

Some snow and much colder temperatures heading into Thanksgiving weekend

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Cloudy skies with temperatures around freezing are over the Steamboat Springs area this mid Thanksgiving morning. After another mild but cloudy day with high temperatures in the mid forties, we should wake up to some snow showers on Black Friday that will become steadier through day and last into Saturday. High temperatures will fall into the upper thirties on Friday, upper twenties on Saturday and struggle to reach freezing on Sunday even as mostly sunny skies return.

A developing storm currently forming an eddy over the Nevada, Utah and Idaho borders is forecast to mix with more arctic air grabbed from the Northern Plains and strengthen before moving eastward across Utah on Friday and Colorado on Saturday.

The storm track is not favorable for our area as upper level winds will be from the southwest and mountain top winds will from the southeast as the storm approaches through Friday. The southwesterly upper level winds will keep relatively dry air originally from the Desert Southwest overhead while the southeasterly mountain top winds will also be dry as they downslope and warm off the Park Range.

So expect another mild day today with high temperatures in the mid forties under mostly cloudy skies. Eventually, upward motion associated with the approaching storm will overcome the dry air and start snow showers tonight first at the higher elevations to our north.

We should wake up to snow showers in town on Black Friday, and those should become steadier through the day as the storm moves through Utah before peaking overnight. High temperatuers on Friday will only make it into the upper thirties, right at our average of 38 F, before falling another ten degrees on Saturday.

Forecast snowfall has unfortunately trended downward over the last few days, with 2-5” expected at mid mountain by Saturday morning and an additional 1-4” through the day as the storm moves through Colorado and winds finally turn to be from the favorable northwest direction, but in a drying atmosphere. The winners look to be just to our north, perhaps over Buffalo Pass, and central and southern Colorado. It will certainly be cold enough for snow in town, with 1-3” of total accumulation possible.

Low temperatures will be in the single digits on Sunday morning, perhaps in the low single digits if skies clear, and high temperatures should warm toward freezing as sunny skies return. After another chilly Monday morning, temperatures will gradually warm through the beginning of the work week under mostly sunny skies as a ridge of high pressure builds to our west.

The nice weather may persist through most of the work week, though there are indications a stormy pattern may emerge by the following weekend. So let’s hope the current storm is an overachiever, and be sure to check back to my next regularly schedules weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for details on a possible pattern change by the end of the coming work week.

Cool and unsettled weather yields to warm and mostly sunny for Opening Day

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Temperatures are in the mid thirties under cloudy skies late this Sunday morning in Steamboat Springs. The cool temperatures forecast for today and Monday will be accompanied by sporadic showers producing only meager precipitation behind a cool front this afternoon. Despite cooling nighttime temperatures, warmer daytime highs under mostly sunny skies return on Tuesday and Wednesday, which is the scheduled Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Clouds return on Thanksgiving Day ahead of another storm for the end of the work week that promises some snow and colder temperatures.

As an administrative note, SnowAlarm switches some products around between the winter and summer seasons; the current avalanche conditions from the Colorado Avalanche Center are now on the home page and references to the air quality widget and NOAA smoke model have been removed. Additionally, I have resumed posting the hourly forecasts for snow bands that are run twice daily.

The West is under a broad trough of low pressure formed by the departing storm from last night that is currently over Oklahoma and Nebraska and an approaching storm affecting Utah. The departing storm left about a quarter inch of mostly liquid precipitation in town and two inches of snow at mid mountain through this morning. Though the upper mountain powdercam is showing nine inches of snow, I do not know when that platform was last cleared; for reference the Tower SNOTEL site indicates about seven inches of snow fell starting Saturday afternoon that contained 0.6” of liquid.

The Utah storm is now forecast to stay to our west, but will be close enough to drag a cool front through our area this afternoon. Winds will switch to be from the current favorable northwest to the less favorable north behind the front, eventually making the current intermittent showers even less numerous, even as they continue through the day Monday.

While we may see another inch or two of snowfall at the higher elevations, the best news will be the colder temperatures that will allow desperately needed snowmaking in time for the scheduled Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Resort on Wednesday. This will be more efficient up top due to colder temperatures and lower relative humidity, but I have no idea if riding the new upper mountain extension of the Wild Blue gondola is being considered.

Plenty of sun on Tuesday and Wednesday will allow daytime temperatures in town to stay in the low forties through Tuesday, right at our average of 40 F, despite the colder nighttime temperatures in the low twenties tonight and mid teens on Monday and Tuesday nights, which is also right around our average of 15 F.

Even warmer high temperatures near fifty degrees are expected for Wednesday as a ridge of high pressure quickly moves through the area behind the departing storms and ahead of our next weather maker for later Thanksgiving Day or Friday.

This next storm is currently moving through the Gulf of Alaska and is forecast to mix with some arctic air from north central Canada after it crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Wednesday. High temperatures will drop into the mid forties on Thanksgiving Day as clouds increase ahead of the approaching storm. There is more uncertainty with respect to the timing of the cold front and the amount of snow than the colder temperatures, with highs currently forecast around freezing on Friday.

Let’s hope that the Steamboat Ski Resort can manage their scheduled opening on Wednesday, and be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details about the next storm.

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7 July 2020

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