Return of winter still on track

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A large storm currently pounding the Pacific Northwest moves ashore tonight and will increase clouds over the Steamboat Springs area tonight. Snow showers on the hill should begin by sunrise, becoming moderate to heavy by noon as rain showers turn to snow showers in the valley. Winds will increase through the day becoming very windy and creating blowing snow, making travel difficult. Additionally, locally intense snowfall with the some thunder may be possible later in the afternoon as the atmosphere destabilizes.

The surface cold front passes through later in the day and brings favorable wet, cool and windy northwesterly flow over our area overnight Monday. Current forecasts are pointing toward the possibility of as much as 8-16” by Tuesday morning, though some models have a drier mountain-top flow which may reduce accumulations by 2-4”.

The first part of the storm on Monday introduces a long duration event comprised of several waves of moderate to heavy snowfall that will last through the entire work week. Snowfall should continue Tuesday with current forecasts having as much as 5-10” of additional snow by Wednesday morning.

Snows will continue through Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, continuing accumulations each day. Because most of the snow is being caused as air is lifted over the Park Range (i.e. orographic, or topological lift), accumulations will be less at lower elevations so the valley will see considerably less snow than the top of Mount Werner.

Total storm accumulations by Saturday morning should be impressive and may be more than two or three feet before the storm cycle is forecast to end by the weekend.

Winter weather returns next week

Friday, March 11, 2016

After another warm and sunny day today, a compact storm crosses the California coast tonight and this may affect our weather for Saturday. We will likely have at least clouds tomorrow afternoon, and we are right on the northern edge of precipitation. There may be light rain showers in the valley and snow showers on the hill by Saturday afternoon.

A much larger and more intense storm approaches the Pacific Northwest around mid-weekend after mixing with some cold arctic air. An ejecting wave on Sunday will stay mostly north of our area but will bring the possibility of light showers for the late afternoon and evening.

The parent storm then moves ashore and looks to bring full-on winter conditions to our area on Monday when a cold front passes through and brings favorable wet and cool northwesterly flow over our area. Current forecasts are pointing toward the possibility of as much as 8-16” by Tuesday morning.

Confidence is increasing that this will be a long duration event comprised of several waves of moderate to heavy snowfall that will last through the entire work week. Furthermore, this will be a cold storm that will bring significant snow to the valleys as well as the mountains and will likely adversely impact I-70 and US-40 at times.

Snow amounts are likely to be impressive by this time next week and could be measured in feet in favored locations.

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.

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30 April 2022

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