Snow chances last through Friday night ahead of clearing and warming

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Temperatures are in the mid-thirties at the Bob Adams airport and around twenty degrees near the top of Mt. Werner under cloudy skies this Thursday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. A small weather system currently moving southward across Wyoming will increase the chances of some snow from this afternoon through Friday night under breezy conditions, though accumulations look unimpressive. Skies should turn mostly sunny on Saturday with seasonably cool temperatures, with continued sun and warming temperatures on Sunday that are forecast to last into the following work week. Our next chance for snowfall looks to wait until around midweek.

Our area is currently located between a persistent-since-early-January ridge of high pressure over the West Coast and a vortex of very cold air centered over Hudson Bay. Waves of Pacific energy have been topping the ridge and mixing to some degree with the cold and dry air from the vortex as they move over our area in northwest flow. The third wave this work week will pass through on Friday, and looks to be moister and further west than the last two waves that passed through on Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, accumulations between this afternoon and Saturday morning will be modest at best under breezy conditions, with 1-4” expected at mid-mountain, as there just is not a lot of moisture associated with the storm. There is enough cold air for the top of the hill to be near zero very early Saturday morning, though temperatures up top are quickly forecast to rebound into the low to mid teens by the afternoon as the western ridge of high pressure moves eastward towards our area and mostly sunny skies return.

More warming and sunny skies are expected on Sunday, with more of the same forecast for the beginning of the work week. Weather forecast models are currently tracking a couple of disturbances off the coast of Japan that look to bring a significant pattern change to our area around midweek, though the details are currently a bit vague. They should hopefully be in better focus by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Warming temperatures this week with a couple of grazing cold fronts

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-twenties at the Bob Adams airport and 10 F near the top of Mt Werner this Sunday noon have overtaken the brief round of productive snowfall last night in Steamboat Springs which left 1.5” on my deck near the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort, 2.5” at mid-mountain and 5” up top. Expect warming temperatures despite a couple of grazing cold fronts this work week ahead of some possible snow heading into next weekend.

Better moisture and a stronger storm than forecast in my last weather narrative under favorable cold northwest flow produced the snowfall last night. The weather forecast models often struggle with the humidity, westward extend and strength of these storms as they travel along the eastern periphery of a western ridge of high pressure, and last night was one such example.

That western ridge of high pressure is forecast to begin to move eastward toward our area on Monday, leading to mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures around or just above our average of 30 F, but three waves of Pacific energy are forecast to round the ridge of high pressure and mix with some cool Canadian air this work week.

This is a similar setup to what we just experienced last night, so there is room for the forecast to change over the coming days depending on how far west these storm travel, but right now the forecast is for a dry cool front to graze our area on Tuesday with a slightly moister one later Wednesday. There may be just some clouds associated with the Tuesday front, with a better chance of some snow showers later Wednesday, though weather forecast models have trended weaker and further east with the midweek front. As was the case last night, there is still time for this to change!

The third cold front heading into next weekend looks more promising though, with this morning’s model runs bringing a modest event overhead, even as one model run last night kept all the weather action to our east. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I should have a better idea of the potential for more snow heading into next weekend.

Dry weather persists under warming temperatures

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Temperatures have warmed under bluebird skies to 8 F at the Bob Adams airport and -3 F at the top of Mt Werner in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon. While these temperatures are quite cold, they started out much colder with -13 F at the airport and -12 F at the top of the hill. Expect another brutally cold morning on Friday before we start to see more pronounced warming heading into the weekend, in spite of a dry cold front on Saturday that might bring some flurries overnight.

A ridge of high pressure along the West Coast has conspired with an exceptionally cold air mass centered around Hudson Bay to bring very cold temperatures to our area as a wave of Pacific energy traveled over the top of the ridge and mixed with a chunk of cold air from Canada. Our average high temperature is 29 F and the average low is 4 F, so we are seeing temperatures around twenty degrees below average - good thing it’s sunny!

The ridge of high pressure is forecast to move overhead by Friday night as it weakens thanks to another incoming dry Pacific wave of energy. We’ll see another very cold start to Friday before temperatures warm under continued sunny skies, with mountain-top temperatures in the teens and Yampa Valley temperatures rising to around twenty.

Due to the extremely cold air mass, valley temperatures are ironically expected to warm more on Saturday as the cold front mixes the stagnant air at the valley floor and modifies or eliminates the temperature inversion. So we may see temperatures in the twenties on Saturday in the valley but continued teens at the higher elevations under skies that start mostly sunny but turn cloudier in the afternoon.

The clouds will help insulate the surface like a blanket Saturday night, so low temperatures in the valley on Sunday are finally expected to be above average. There may be some flurries overnight associated with the cold front, but accumulating snowfall will be hard to come by.

The cold front will lower the Sunday afternoon temperatures a few degrees from Saturday at all elevations, but clearing skies behind the front will allow for a return of the Yampa Valley temperature inversion on Monday morning. The clear skies will allow for plenty of sun on Monday which should finally return our temperatures to around average.

This looks to persist through Tuesday before a weak and dry system, similar to the one expected mid-weekend, is forecast to pass through midweek. While there are no significant precipitation signals in the weather forecast models through next weekend, this can change so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for any clues as to when the snow returns.

A lot of cold and a little bit of snow

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area have warmed into the mid-teens in town and mid-twenties near the top of Mt. Werner under bluebird skies this Sunday noon. While Monday will start out similar to the last several sunny days, a series of relatively dry cold fronts will pass through the area from Monday afternoon through Thursday. While precipitation will be hard to come by, with our best chances between Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the cold is all but certain as temperatures start a modest decline by Monday afternoon before falling into the basement by midweek.

A ridge of high pressure is currently over the West Coast while a vortex of cold air extends from Baffin Bay west of Greenland southward along the East Coast. While the East digs out of the high-impact Nor’easter from yesterday, we’ll enjoy another gorgeous winter day in the Rockies with afternoon high temperatures approaching or even exceeding the freezing mark at all elevations.

We’ll probably see another sub-zero night in the Yampa Valley as the clear skies allow the temperature inversion to reform, but we should see some clouds by Monday afternoon after a sunny morning as the first in a series of relatively dry cold fronts pass through. There may be some snowflakes around Monday night and early Tuesday morning, but no accumulations are expected.

While the West Coast ridge of high pressure will be temporarily vanquished by the Pacific storm, it is forecast to reform and strengthen from south of the Aleutian Islands northward toward the Arctic Circle early in the work week. This will allow the bitterly cold air from central and eastern Canada to move down the eastern periphery of the ridge and bring frigid temperatures to our area by midweek.

While it appears the Front Range will see the most snowfall thanks to the easterly winds associated with the cold air surges, we may see some light snowfall from Tuesday through Wednesday nights, with an optimistic 2-5” possible. But the big story will be the cold, as temperatures drop precipitously on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday and Thursday. High temperatures in town may be in the upper teens on Tuesday and approach the single digits on Wednesday and Thursday, while summit high temperatures will drop to around ten degrees on Tuesday and struggle to rise much above zero on Wednesday and Thursday.

But the sun should return on Thursday, even though temperatures won’t noticeably warm until Friday. A relatively chaotic weather pattern is then forecast for next weekend as waves of energy containing very little moisture move through the Great Basin, with a bit of snow possible around mid-weekend. Other than that, this pattern change, while forecast for a while, unfortunately looks to bring far more cold than snow. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see what might be in store after our work week cold spell.

Chilly starts to sunny and warmer days through the weekend

Thursday, January 27, 2022

After some intermittent snow showers early this morning, sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon. The clear skies will persist through the weekend, and though the days will see warming temperatures, quite cold nights are expected down at the Yampa Valley floor. Our next chance for precipitation looks to occur sometime after the start of the next work week.

A narrow ridge of high pressure is currently situated along the West Coast while a deep vortex of very cold air extends from Baffin Bay west of Greenland through the Great Lakes and towards our neck of the woods. The couple of small storms last Tuesday and today traveled over the top of the ridge, and mixed with some of the cold and dry air associated with the vortex, but those underwhelming storms will be the last of our interesting weather for the next five days or so as that West Coast ridge is forecast to move overhead this weekend.

The sunny skies will help moderate the arctic air mass that has settled over our area, but stout temperature inversions, where temperatures increase with height, are forecast to form over the valley through the weekend. It looks like the coldest morning of the next several will be Friday morning, with low temperatures in the valley expected to be in the negative teens, even as mountain-top low temperatures stay above zero.

We should be able to warm towards our average of 28 F in the valley on Friday as mountain-top temperatures warm into the teens, so at some point during the day the stronger warming at the surface will erase the nighttime temperature inversion.

But the temperature inversion looks to return each morning through the weekend, though there will be a steady upward trend in the low and high temperatures each day, perhaps around 5 F. The temperature inversions will be the only weather story during a gorgeous weekend, but there is some weather forecast model consensus that storminess returns to our area around next Tuesday or Wednesday. There is still disagreement on the details, and I hope to have some clarity on the upcoming pattern change by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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23 February 2021

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