Unsettled weather returns after a gorgeous weekend

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Temperatures reached the mid-sixties by mid-afternoon on this Sunday, same as yesterday. The unseasonably warm weather with high temperatures almost twenty degrees above our average of 47 F looks to go away for the upcoming work week as the weather turns unsettled and snow returns to the weather forecast by midweek.

A ridge of high pressure is currently sitting over our region while a persistent area of low pressure extends from the Gulf of Alaska westward to the Bering Sea. A chunk of cold air has broken away from the North Pole and will be incorporated into the persistent low pressure area, eventually forming a storm in the Gulf of Alaska that is forecast to make landfall along the Vancouver coast early on Tuesday.

A wave of energy ejecting out of the developing storm will pass near our area on Monday, so expect increasing clouds with a small chance of rain showers in the afternoon and overnight, along with high temperatures in the fifties.

The parent storm is expected to split along the West Coast on Tuesday as it moves inland, with breezy winds developing ahead of the southern portion of the storm which is forecast to move through the Great Basin later Tuesday, Temperatures will be similar to Monday, though increasing clouds through the day will yield a better chance of showers by later in the afternoon.

Shower chances become likely overnight Tuesday and through Wednesday as the best part of the southern part of storm passes through our area. Snow levels will descend overnight, likely reaching the Yampa Valley floor by Wednesday morning. Snow showers should continue through the day, with moderate to sometimes heavy snowfall continuing at the higher elevations under the stronger storm cells, with difficult travel at times over Rabbit Ears Pass.

The cold temperatures associated with the southern part of the storm will arrive Thursday morning after the best moisture has left the area, but we could see 5-10” of snow at and above pass between Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with some snow possible down in town, most likely on non-paved surfaces.

While Thursday will start dry, the parent storm is forecast to graze our area as it moves into the Upper Midwest and strengthens, bringing another surge of cold air and moisture later Thursday into Friday. More snowfall is likely at all elevations before a ridge of high pressure moves overhead on Friday thanks to another developing storm over the Aleutian Islands.

Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon as I’ll take a guess at snowfall amounts for the last part of the storm on Thursday night, and discuss whether that ridge of high pressure sticks around for the weekend or gives way to more showery weather.

Gorgeous fall weekend coming up

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Temperatures are in the mid-fifties late this Thursday afternoon under brilliant blue skies. More of the same is expected through the weekend with an unsettled weather pattern currently forecast for the following work week.

A ridge of high pressure over the southern and central Rockies is currently extending northward into the central Canadian Plains and is flanked by a strong area of low pressure centered in the Gulf of Alaska and another centered over Hudson Bay which extends southward through the Great Lakes. A weak wave of energy currently moving across the Pacific Northwest will have little affect on our area on Friday as it passes to our north, other than some stronger breezes generally from the west.

The breezier conditions look to persist through the weekend under continued sunny skies and temperatures approaching and possibly exceeding sixty degrees, well above our average of 48 F, as the storm track stays north of our area.

Waves of energy and moisture are forecast to be ejected out of the Gulf of Alaska low pressure area even as it is constantly recharged by more incoming Pacific energy and cold air moving southward through the Bering Sea. Weather forecast models are disagreeing about the timing of these disturbances, though it looks like one will be close enough to our area near the beginning of the work week for the possibility of some light showers, followed by a stronger system for midweek.

Enjoy the gorgeous fall weekend, and I’ll have more about the unsettled weather pattern for the following work week in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Unsettled weather for the work week starts later Sunday

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Partly sunny skies with temperatures in the low fifties are over the Steamboat Springs area just after noon on this Sunday. A series of disturbances will pass through the area through midweek with the first bringing rain showers to the Yampa Valley and snow showers to the higher elevations starting late this afternoon or evening. Periods of precipitation will continue through midweek, with snow possible down to the valley floor by Wednesday morning before we see a break in the unsettled weather on Thursday.

Our area sits between a deep and cold area of low pressure over the upper Midwest and a strong ridge of high pressure extending from Vancouver northward along the British Columbia coast. A cold front associated with the Midwest area of low pressure is currently moving southward through Wyoming and will be on our doorstep this evening. Additionally, an eddy spinning along the Oregon coast will be forced mostly eastward under the ridge of high pressure by a storm in the Gulf of Alaska, with some energy ejecting out ahead of the eddy bringing showers to our area later this afternoon or evening.

I’m sure all parents bringing their children to the annual Downtown Halloween Stroll want to know the exact time showers will start, but unfortunately I can provide only a rough estimate. My guess is that the cold front will remain to our north and the event will start dry, though there will likely be some passing rain showers by 6 or 7 pm.

Some of the eddy is forecast to move through our area Monday morning, and in addition to some cool air leaking south from the cold front to our north, expect some light showers through the night increasing in intensity at times from Monday morning through the afternoon. Several inches of accumulation are possible at the higher elevations, with some flakes possible down to the Yampa Valley floor.

Better chances of more significant precipitation begin later Tuesday and overnight thanks to the incoming Gulf of Alaska storm. The storm is forecast to split when it makes landfall on Monday, with the southern piece moving across our area later Tuesday and combining with another surge of cool air from that area of low pressure over the Midwest. We could see 1-4” of snowfall accumulate on the non-paved areas around town between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons in our favorable cool, moist and unstable flow from the northwest, with 5-10” of snowfall at the top of Mt. Werner and difficult travel at times over Rabbit Ears Pass.

Snow showers will hang on but taper off at the higher elevations through Wednesday afternoon, with a dry and mostly sunny day forecast for Thursday. There looks to be another batch of unsettled weather as we head into the weekend, but I’ll talk about that possibility in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Sunny and warmer weather to start the weekend

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Temperatures are mired in the low forties this Thursday afternoon in Steamboat Springs as a storm reluctantly leaves the area. Sunny and warmer weather returns for Friday and Saturday followed by cooler temperatures and increasing clouds on Sunday ahead of another stretch of unsettled weather for the beginning of the work week.

The storm that began for our area on Tuesday is now located near the southern tip of Illinois, though the cool, moist and unstable northwest flow behind the storm kept snow showers going through the day Wednesday and has allowed the cool and cloudy weather to persist today. However the sun returns for Friday and Saturday as the storm continues moving to the southeast and a ridge of high pressure moves over our area ahead of another incoming Pacific storm, allowing temperatures to rise into the mid-fifties, several degrees above our average of 52 F.

The fate of the next storm is still uncertain, as it is forecast to split as it approaches the West Coast early in the weekend. Some energy will travel over the top of another developing ridge of high pressure along the British Columbia coast and eventually toward our area, and some energy is left behind as an eddy that is forecast to loiter over Oregon for the weekend.

That northern part of the storm is forecast to park a cold front just north of our area by Sunday, while the Oregon eddy will eventually be pushed near our area by a storm currently in the Bering Sea that is forecast to strengthen in the Gulf of Alaska this weekend. And this storm is itself forecast to split early in the work week, with some of that storm affecting our area right behind that eddy.

So we have three moving pieces that will begin to affect our weather on Sunday and continue into the following work week, and the timing and interaction of all these pieces will determine our eventual weather. Right now, it looks like a cooler and cloudy Sunday with rain showers at the low elevations and snow showers at the higher elevations beginning in the afternoon or evening.

These showers will likely intensify and peak Sunday night as the Oregon eddy moves near our area, with rain showers turning mixed or into snow showers by Monday morning. And more unsettled weather is forecast for Tuesday as the next storm eventually moves by. Enjoy the brief return of warmer and sunny weather to start the weekend, and I’ll have an update on how this will eventually play out so you know how to dress for the Steamboat Springs Halloween Stroll in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Stormy weather returns for Tuesday

Sunday, October 24, 2021

After a rainy start to the day in Steamboat Springs, skies have cleared and temperatures have warmed to around fifty degrees this Sunday mid-afternoon. Warm and windy weather is expected on Monday ahead of a strong and complex storm that is forecast to bring rain that turns to snow on Tuesday. Showery weather will hang around behind the departing storm on Wednesday, and possibly some of Thursday before sunny and warmer weather closes out the work week.

Some energy ejecting out ahead of a monster storm currently affecting the West Coast brought the unsettled weather to our area yesterday afternoon and last night, with a tenth of an inch or two of liquid precipitation around town and an inch or two of snow at the higher elevations. This storm developed in the Gulf of Alaska and is currently bringing excessive precipitation and high winds to much of the West Coast. In fact, due to the rapid intensification of the storm, it is called a bomb cyclone, which technically means that the central pressure of the storm, or cyclone, has dropped at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

That storm is forecast to break apart into a couple of pieces, with one such piece moving across the Great Basin on Monday while another piece travels into Canada. The Great Basin piece of the storm is forecast to bring a cold front through our area Tuesday morning, and ahead of that winds will be increasing from the southwest. So Monday should be mostly sunny, windy and warm as air from the Desert Southwest is carried overhead, and may be the last day of sixty degree weather for the season.

Impressive moisture will accompany the Great Basin storm, and we should see good rain showers at the lower elevations Tuesday morning turning to snow by the afternoon, and all snow at the higher elevations. The storm is expected to split as it moves over our area, which adds some forecast uncertainty, but right now the bulk of the storm is expected to be past our area by Tuesday night. We could see 1-4” of snow down at the Yampa Valley floor by Tuesday night with 3-6” or more at the higher elevations. Travel will likely be difficult at times almost all of Tuesday, especially over Rabbit Ears Pass.

However, our favorable cool, moist and unstable flow from the northwest behind the storm will keep snow showers going through Wednesday and possibly into Thursday. Light accumulations are possible at the higher elevations, though the showers will become lighter, more intermittent and more confined to the higher elevations as the storm continues moving to the east.

A transient ridge of high pressure is then forecast to move and build overhead by Friday and into the weekend for warmer and dry weather as another storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska. Weather forecast models agree that some of that storm will eventually make its way toward our area, though it is not clear if that is later in the weekend or soon thereafter. I’ll certainly have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

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23 November 2021

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