Last storm in this series arrives for Christmas Day

Thursday, December 24, 2015

After last week’s three foot storm cycle, the 7” mid and 8” up top reported this morning, almost all of which fell during the day Wednesday, leaves the Steamboat Ski Area with another storm cycle total of 35” at mid and 42.5” up top since Sunday night.

After a dry day today, a large storm currently located over the central West Coast will begin to stretch tonight and eventually split by later tomorrow. Energy leading to this split will move over the Steamboat Springs area sometime after midnight tonight and before sunrise tomorrow, likely leading to light falling snow for Christmas morning.

Additionally, the energy moving over our area looks strong enough to form a secondary closed low that will veer our winds from the southwest to the northwest by later in the day, increasing the chances of moderate to sometimes heavy snowfall in the afternoon.

Lighter snows should continue overnight as this secondary low moves east of the area, and may linger Saturday morning. I would expect 6-12” to be reported Saturday morning, with a significant portion of that falling between noon and midnight Friday.

Very cold temperatures will be reinforced for Saturday before warming at higher elevations should be noted by Sunday as the skies clear. Valleys will stay chilly as a temperature inversion reforms after the storm passes.

Monday should stay sunny with pleasant mountain temperatures before a series of weak storms interact and threaten the area with light snow for Tuesday. These storms will drag some more cold air over the region that may be reinforced by another weak storm around Thursday.

Long term models indicate that a Gulf of Alaska or West Coast ridge typical of recent El Nino episodes is likely to form around next weekend, possibly diverting the recent stormy weather around the West and Inter-mountain West.

One to two feet or more likely by Wednesday afternoon

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Steamboat Ski area reported 5.5” this morning and 6” up top, and by 11am an additional 5.5” fell on mid-mountain and 3” up top. After a brief break this afternoon, the snow machine cranks up again tonight as a wet Pacific jet stream takes aim on Colorado. Relatively warm temperatures and very strong westerly winds are expected through midnight as snow starts up again around sunset or early evening tonight.

The winds should moderate sometime after midnight as some cool air moves over the area, but will likely stay strong through the early morning before relaxing and veering more to the northwest by noon Tuesday. Periods of moderate to heavy snow should occur tonight and through the day tomorrow. Including what fell today, I would expect 6-12” to be reported Tuesday morning with at least that much again for the Wednesday morning report.

Snowfall will likely continue at much lighter rates early Wednesday before the final wave in this train, this time in wet but not as windy northwest flow, moves over the area later Wednesday morning, There is some cooler air with the wave, so I would expect lighter density snow during the day before snowfall begins to taper off, but not end, after sunset. I would expect another 4-8” to be reported Thursday morning.

Light snow early Thursday should turn into even lighter flurries or even end for a bit later Thursday before a large and strong storm crosses the West Coast and backs our winds to the southwest on Thursday. The snow from this storm may begin early on Christmas Day as waves eject from the parent low to our southwest and move over the Steamboat Springs area. This storm is currently forecast to last all day, but I expect the forecast to evolve over the next few days as there is a lot going on with the preceding storm.

The snow machine cranks up again starting Sunday

Friday, December 18, 2015

Even after a week of snow, tomorrow may be our only snow-free day for a while as a quick moving wave passes over the Steamboat Springs area Sunday and veers our flow from the southwest to the west and northwest. Snow should start falling during Sunday morning and periods of light to moderate snow should continue overnight and through Monday as additional weak waves Sunday night and Monday pass over the area. The timing of these waves in generally moist west to northwest flow is difficult and differs between the models, but I would expect around 4-8” of snow by Monday morning.

After a brief break and 2-5” for the Tuesday morning report, the snow machine cranks up again starting early Tuesday as a wet Pacific jet stream takes aim on Colorado and brings snow and windy conditions, especially to the higher elevations. Periods of moderate to heavy snow are forecast during the day Tuesday and overnight, leaving around a foot or more of fresh for the Wednesday morning report.

Snowfall should taper off, but likely not end on Wednesday and Thursday before a major storm is forecast to cross the West Coast early on Christmas Day. There are indications of a split storm which adds additional uncertainty to the forecast, but snow may increase over the Steamboat Springs area as waves eject from the storm located to our southwest as early as Christmas afternoon. This storm may be a slow-mover, though forecast details are sure to change with so much happening between now and then.

Last very cold wave ends the current storm cycle before another begins Sunday

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Another 5” of snow on my deck this morning, 10.5” at mid-mountain at 5am and about 3” additional as of 11am, slightly higher than 10-20” of snow I predicted on the hill by Wednesday morning in the Monday forecast. The last wave in this storm cycle will move over the Steamboat Springs area tonight and early tomorrow with the coldest temperatures of the season observed tomorrow. Ironically, the cold temperatures may lead to an increase in snow density as the snow crystal habit transitions from the familiar and space-taking dendrites to space-conserving columns at temperatures below 0F or so.

Nonetheless, I expect 6-12” of new snow to be reported tomorrow morning on top of the 22” in the past 2 days. Depending upon the timing of the last wave, snow may continue in the morning, leaving an additional 2-4” by noon and the possibility of some Steamboat Magic between the 5am report and the mountain opening.

Snow should actually stop by Thursday afternoon as some upper-level warming moves over the area, though a slug of moisture moving through the warming and stabilizing airmass might produce some snow showers for the first half of Friday, possibly leaving another inch or two to be reported Saturday morning.

Saturday may be our only snow-free day in 2 weeks as a quick moving wave passes over the Steamboat Springs area Sunday. The forecast calls for snow increasing until about noon Sunday before tapering off in the afternoon, leaving 3-6” that will be reported Monday morning.

After a brief break, the snow machine cranks up again with a long-duration event starting during the day Monday. The ideal scenario of moist and cool northwest flow containing numerous waves is forecast to be over our area from Monday though Wednesday, possibly leaving around a foot or more of fresh for both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings with periods of moderate and heavy snow through the entire time.

A break in snowfall is then predicted heading into and including Christmas day before another major storm threatens our area around the following weekend.

Snow has started falling as the next major storm approaches

Monday, December 14, 2015

It is currently snowing as the next storm begins to affect the Steamboat Springs area. Snows will become heavy overnight as the strong storm moves over Colorado, leaving 6-12” for the Tuesday morning report.

Snows will continue in the cold and moist northwest flow Tuesday and Wednesday with the possibility of a TROWAL forming tomorrow morning, possibly keeping heavy snows going through the early part of the day before the storm moves east of the area by the afternoon. Additional accumulations may be in the 4-8” range by Wednesday morning leaving 10-20” from this event.

Snow will diminish but likely not end Wednesday before a trailing wave in the northwest flow increases very low-density snowfall by Wednesday night into Thursday morning, possibly leaving another 4-8” by the Thursday morning report depending on the actual timing of this wave. After another several inches on the Friday morning report, the atmosphere is expected to stabilize during the day Friday as it warms, ending this storm cycle and ushering in a drier and much warmer couple of days for the beginning of the weekend.

Another quick-moving storm is forecast for late in the weekend or early in Christmas week, followed by a short break and possibly another major storm around midweek just before the Christmas holiday.

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15 June 2019

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