Snows likely from Sunday through Tuesday

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Snows have been falling at a moderate rate this Thursday morning in Steamboat Springs, with 5” being reported at mid-mountain and 6” up top on the 11 am snow report update. A bit more snow can be expected through the rest of today before snows end tonight. A couple of nice days are forecast for Friday and Saturday before a long-duration snow event with significant accumulations is advertised from Saturday night through Tuesday.

Today, a relatively warm storm is traversing over Colorado and is the remnants of the southern part of the split storm that passed over our area earlier in the week. Snows will continue into the evening with up to an inch or two of additional accumulations possible.

Behind the storm and ahead of our next Pacific storm, mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures are forecast for Friday and Saturday as a ridge of high pressure quickly moves over the Rocky Mountains. High temperatures on Friday should be several degrees above our average high of 30 F, with high temperatures for Saturday five to ten degrees above that average.

Meanwhile, a large Pacific storm currently off the West Coast is forecast to make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning and move across the Great Basin on Sunday as it mixes with some cold air drawn southward from western Canada. Additionally, the storm looks to incorporate subtropical moisture on Saturday in the southwesterly flow ahead of the storm, creating a long-duration snow event that will begin late Saturday or early Sunday and last through Tuesday.

Details are still evolving with this powerful storm, but right now it looks like we will see two main waves of significant snowfall; the first during the day Sunday in the warmer part of the storm and the second from Sunday night through some of Monday in the colder part of the storm. This second part of the storm is currently the most uncertain, not only because if is later in the forecast period, but also because there is weather forecast model disagreement on the amount of energy in the southern part of the storm.

While there could be a small amount of snow on the Sunday morning report, we could see 6-12” of relatively dense snow during the day and through the evening on Sunday in the generally westerly flow ahead of the parent storm. Around Sunday night or early Monday morning, a cold front is expected to pass through the area, lowering snow densities and creating some light and fluffy powder that will ski great on top of the denser layer of snow underneath.

There may be a break in snowfall for a time later Monday, but orographic, or terrain-driven, snow showers, which occur in our case when air is lifted by the Park mountain range, will occur from Monday night through Tuesday in the favorable cold, moist and unstable northwest flow.

A couple of days break is currently advertised for around midweek before some sort of storm may bring snows back to our area around Thursday.

Quick update for snows on Thursday

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

My last Sunday weather forecast talked about a storm crossing the Great Basin on this Wednesday. Initially weather forecast models had us in clouds with the precipitation staying to our south. The storm has fortunately trended further north in subsequent model runs, and it now looks like the Steamboat Springs area will see snows from early Thursday morning through the day.

The further northward track of the storm brings a cool front through north central Colorado early on Thursday. There may be a modicum of snow on the Thursday morning report, but most of it will fall during the day, with 3-6” of snow expected at mid-mountain by the evening.

We are still on track for warmer and sunnier weather for Friday and Saturday before the next Pacific storm affects our area starting on Sunday. Stay tuned for my regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details on this possibly significant storm.

Snow chances Monday night and later next weekend

Sunday, December 1, 2019

After the snow, wind and cold of Saturday, a warmer but still crisp, bluebird day is gracing Steamboat Springs early this Sunday afternoon. Temperatures will warm further for Monday even under some increasing clouds later in the day ahead of a grazing storm that will bring a chance of snow showers, greatest at the higher elevations, from Monday night through the first half of Tuesday. Another storm around Thursday looks to pass too far south of our area for much besides increased cloudiness before mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures end the work week and start the following weekend.

Though the first part of the last storm under-delivered for reasons I’m still trying to understand, the wind and snow came on schedule for the second part of the storm, with 5” of snow falling at mid-mountain during the day Saturday and temperatures at the top of Mt. Werner struggling to touch 4 F during daylight hours.

But we now see a cool and sunny day for the start of the Northern Hemisphere’s meteorological winter, which includes the most wintry months of December, January and February. Monday will dawn with cold temperatures within five degrees of our average low of 9 F, rising under mostly sunny skies to five to ten degrees above our average high of 32 F as a ridge of high pressure moves overhead.

Meanwhile, a storm off the West Coast splits today, with the northern part racing across the northern Rockies on Monday and grazing northern Colorado in northwest flow with some energy and moisture. Snow showers will become likely at the higher elevations by Monday night and last into Tuesday, with weather forecast models waffling on the duration and intensity of the showers. There could be as much as 1-4” of snow by the Tuesday morning report with that much again Tuesday morning after the report, though those reflect the more optimistic forecast at this time.

Even if showers end early on Tuesday, clouds will persist through the day and overnight as the southern part of today’s split storm off the West Coast is forced eastward across the Great Basin on Wednesday by another incoming Pacific storm. Notably, this Pacific storm will likely affect our area during the second half of the upcoming weekend.

But first, the Great Basin storm looks to be too far south of northern Colorado for precipitation, though more clouds will be in store for our area later Wednesday and Thursday as moisture ahead of and behind the storm overspreads our area.

A ridge of high pressure then briefly moves overhead for a mostly sunny and warm Friday. While the dry weather will extend into some of Saturday, that upstream Pacific storm is forecast to make landfall during the weekend. The timing and evolution of this storm will likely change over the coming days, but significant snowfall for our area is possible around the second half of next weekend or early the following workweek. More details will be forthcoming in my next twice-weekly weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Next strong storm from Friday afternoon through Saturday

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mostly sunny skies prevail over Steamboat Springs this Thanksgiving morning. Our next storm is currently affecting the southern West Coast and the Great Basin, and will bring a round of snows and cold temperatures from Friday afternoon through Saturday. Except for the possibility of some higher elevation snow showers on Tuesday, quiet weather is expected for the rest of the upcoming week until the next storm around Thursday.

An expansive storm currently located off the coast of central California will move inland today and across the Great Basin on Friday. Temperatures have warmed in the dry southerly flow ahead of the storm, though we should see increasing clouds later today and overnight as the storm approaches.

Snows look to hold off through Friday morning as the storm has slowed a bit from my earlier forecast. A strong cold front associated with the storm will pass through our area in the early afternoon on Friday, turning our winds from the southwest to the west and bringing a period of moderate to heavy snow showers and sharply colder temperatures. Snows should become steadier by later in the day and overnight before decreasing during the day Saturday and ending by Saturday night. Winds will turn from westerly to northwesterly Friday night and increase, making travel difficult from Friday afternoon through most of Saturday.

I would expect 6-12” of snowfall on the cold Saturday morning snow report, with 1-4” of that occurring during Friday afternoon. We could see some Steamboat Magic between report time and ski time Saturday morning as moderate to heavy snow showers in breezy to windy northwest flow are expected in the morning before decreasing through the day and ending around Saturday night. We could see another 3-6” during the day Saturday which would be reported Sunday morning.

Sunday morning will start cold again, though temperatures should rise by the afternoon, especially at the higher elevations, as a transient ridge of high pressure moves over our area behind the departing storm.

Meanwhile, our next weather-maker, currently south of the Aleutian Islands, will split on Monday as it moves through the Gulf of Alaska. While the southern part of the split warms and moistens well off the coast of California early in the work week, the northern part of the storm races across the northern Rockies and grazes our area on Tuesday. Weather forecast models have trended weaker for our area, with only a brief period of light, high-elevation snow showers now expected during the day Tuesday.

By Wednesday, an upstream Pacific storm moves the loitering southern piece of the grazing Tuesday storm eastward across the Great Basin, bringing increasing clouds later Wednesday and the possibility of relatively warm and dense accumulating snows on Thursday. There is uncertainty with respect to the track of the storm, however, and our snow amounts will depend on the eventual proximity of the storm. Stay tuned to my next weather narrative on Sunday for the latest on this warm storm.

Weather forecast models agree that a ridge of high pressure moves through our area as we head into the following weekend, ahead of the next storm which may affect us by late in the weekend.

Two Thanksgiving week storms on Monday and Friday

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is experiencing our second bluebird day in a row this Sunday morning ahead of a couple of significant storms expected later on Monday and around the Friday after Thanksgiving. Travel will likely be difficult during the storms, especially from Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon and again on Friday and Saturday. But outdoor enthusiasts may be wallowing in over two feet of new snow from these storms by next Sunday if they evolve as currently predicted.

A compact and strengthening storm that is forecast to cross the West Coast tonight will bring a good shot of cold air and snow to our area from Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon. While we may see snowflakes Monday morning in advance of the storm, snows should intensify when the strong cold front passes through in the afternoon or early evening. Snowfall rates of an inch per hour or more will make travel quite difficult through early Tuesday before snows taper off during the day. I would expect 6-12” of snow on the Tuesday morning ski report, with an additional 1-4” during the day Tuesday as snows turn more showery under noticeably cold wintertime temperatures.

Meanwhile, another incoming Pacific storm made stronger by vigorous mixing with cold western Canadian air will travel down the West Coast on Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day before forming a large eddy cutoff from the main jet stream. While weather forecast models agree on its slow movement through the Great Basin on Friday, details are more nebulous. Models have trended a bit slower, bringing another round of moderate to heavy snows to our area on Friday and into Saturday, and fortuitously making Wednesday and most of Thanksgiving Day a good time for travel.

The center of the storm is currently forecast to pass nearly directly overhead later on Friday, with snows increasing earlier in the day and becoming moderate to heavy by later Friday and Friday night. Additionally, very cold temperatures even colder than we will experience on this coming Tuesday will follow behind the storm for Saturday and Sunday. Snow amounts will likely be significant from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon, which is when they are expected to end, with a preliminary guess of over a foot possible at mid-mountain, and more at the top of Mt. Werner. Stay tuned to my Thanksgiving Day weather narrative for the latest on this strong second storm.

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