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Spring fever arrives in Steamboat Springs

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Temperatures are near freezing at all elevations in the Steamboat Springs area as clouds depart on this Easter Sunday morning. A stretch of beautiful spring weather will continue into midweek before clouds and winds increase ahead of a storm for the end of the work week that looks to bring snow back to our area.

A large area of low pressure currently over the eastern Pacific extends from Alaska southward halfway to Hawaii. Warm air carried northward ahead of the storm will force a ridge of high pressure to build over the West through midweek, bringing mostly sunny skies and warm temperatures.

While high temperatures will approach our average of 52 F today, they should approach 60 F on Monday and mid to upper-sixties on Tuesday and Wednesday with lots of sunshine for a beautiful stretch of spring days.

Meanwhile a storm currently near Kamchatka is forecast to move across the northern Pacific and dislodge the area of low pressure over the eastern Pacific by midweek. The low pressure area will evolve in a complex manner as it enters the Great Basin on Thursday as waves of energy move through, making for an uncertain end-of-week forecast.

Right now, we may see a batch of clouds and increasing winds from the southwest later Wednesday as the storm approaches. Thursday will be the last day of this stretch of spring weather with high temperatures dropping into the upper fifties as clouds briefly dissipate ahead of a strong cold front that should move through later Thursday or early Friday.

A rain-snow mix in town during the day Friday should turn to all snow by Friday night as that Kamchatka storm finally moves through the area of low pressure which will be overhead, with high temperatures in town falling to the low forties, between ten and fifteen degrees below our rising average of 54 F.

Enjoy this gorgeous stretch of hard-to-come-by spring weather and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon with more details on our next wintry storm. At this point, with 442”of snowfall at mid-mountain so far this season, there is a chance we can reach the 450” milestone by Closing Day.

Warming temperatures for the weekend with unsettled weather on Saturday

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Temperatures are near twenty degrees in the town of Steamboat Springs and mid-teens near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort on this mostly sunny Thursday mid-morning. Temperatures will warm today as the early-April sun modifies the arctic air mass that was over our area on Tuesday and Wednesday. More warming on another mostly sunny Friday will be followed by clouds on Saturday along with a chance of afternoon and evening showers. These clouds should dissipate by Sunday afternoon before long-awaited springtime weather appears for most of the work week with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the sixties.

The storm this past week did bring the cold, though the brunt of the 13” reported at mid-mountain from Monday night through this morning occurred on Tuesday night rather than Monday night as originally forecast. While we missed setting record cold temperatures during the storm, the snowpack continued to build, and we are still in record territory for the amount of water stored in the Yampa-White-Little Snake basin since April 1, with equivalent liquid water 150% of the 30 year median.

A transient ridge of high pressure will move through our area today and Friday ahead of a weakening storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska. Temperatures will warm to the mid-thirties today in town, still fifteen degrees below our average of 52 F, but approach that mark tomorrow and the weekend. Mostly sunny skies on Friday should give way to clouds and a small chance of some passing afternoon and evening showers on Saturday as that weakening Gulf of Alaska storm moves overhead, but the clouds should dissipate during the day Sunday ahead of a quintessential stretch of springtime weather lasting for much of the following work week.

Temperatures in the sixties are likely starting Monday as a large ridge of high pressure builds ahead of a strong storm currently developing near the Aleutian Islands, with Tuesday currently looking like the warmest day of the upcoming week. The stretch of springtime weather looks to be interrupted near the end of the work week and the Closing Weekend of the Steamboat Ski Resort as that Aleutian storm makes its way inland. I’ll certainly have more on how that may play out in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Record setting winter continues

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Temperatures are near forty degrees in the town of Steamboat Springs and mid-twenties near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under mostly cloudy skies this Sunday noon. Some clearing skies to our west may make it over our area this afternoon as a strong spring snowstorm crosses the Pacific Northwest coast. Monday will be the last warm day of the work week before snows start Monday night and last into Thursday, along with another couple of chances to break the records for the coldest high temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday, and perhaps the coldest low temperature for Thursday.

yampa-white-little_snake Snow Water Equivalent through 2 April 2023Before we get to the next blast of winter starting Monday night, note that our river drainage system has more water in the snowpack on this date since this metric first started being tracked in the winter of 1985-1986! In the figure, the blue line represents the maximum recorded equivalent liquid water, the black line current values and the green line the median for the thirty years starting in the 1990-1991 winter season.

And we are going to add to our snowpack this week as a strong winter-like storm currently crossing the Pacific Northwest coast moves across the Great Basin on Monday and gets the snows going over our area Monday night.

This storm is similar to the last one on Friday with a very cold air mass originating in Siberia moving across the Pacific while absorbing moisture from another atmospheric river originally formed over Indonesia. While the storm won’t be centered over Nevada until later Monday, we should see gusty winds increase from the west today in the warm air mass ahead of the storm. Temperatures in town are expected to be near our average of 48 F today under partly sunny skies, 

A similar day is expected on Monday, possibly with cloudier skies, as the winds turn to be from the southwest and remain gusty. The storm is forecast to move east across the Great Basin Monday night and move overhead on Tuesday, dragging a strong cold through our area Monday night. While there may be some light snow showers ahead of the front, moderate to heavy snows should accompany the front and continue behind it with snowfall rates possibly over two inches per hour at times, leading to 5-10” by the Tuesday morning mid-mountain report and an additional 2-5” during the day.

Temperatures will plunge behind the front, with temperatures falling to five degrees up top by Tuesday afternoon and possibly subzero on Wednesday and Thursday mornings as a reinforcing waves of cold air pass through on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Record cold high temperatures may be set in town on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, with the lowest high temperatures of 32 F set in 2011 and 28 F set in 2009 in jeopardy, though the record low temperatures of -15 F set on Tuesday and -5 F on Wednesday, both in 1945, appear safe. But the record low of 0 F set in 1983 may be broken if skies clear enough as currently forecast by Thursday morning.

While the weather forecast models agree on the likely record-setting cold, they disagree on precipitation amounts, so that part of the forecast is uncertain. Each of the reinforcing waves could enhance snowfall, though moisture is likely to decrease in the very cold air behind the initial front. Another 1-4” could fall around Tuesday night and again Wednesday into Thursday morning, especially considering the dry and fluffy nature of the unseasonably cold early April snowfall.

Temperatures look to recover by Thursday afternoon as the storm departs, with a dry and seasonable weekend currently in the forecast. And for those hungry for above average temperatures, there is hope as a giant ridge of high pressure looks build over the West the following week for this first time this winter. So be sure to check back Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss that prognosis in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative.

Spring snowstorm ahead of nice weekend

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Temperatures are in the mid-forties in the town of Steamboat Springs and upper twenties near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under partly sunny skies on this windy Thursday at noon. After a beautiful spring day yesterday, winter returns this afternoon with significant snows continuing into Friday night as a cold spring snowstorm moves overhead. The weekend should be beautiful with a cool Saturday followed by warming temperatures for Sunday.

Before discussing the upcoming spring snowstorm, I’d like to note we did end up tying the all-time coldest high temperature last Monday on 27 March 2023, originally set in 1931.

Currently, another cold storm with Siberian origins is crossing the Great Basin, with strong and gusty winds from the southwest and south ahead of the storm now overhead. A strong cold front is forecast to move though the area this mid-afternoon with a burst of snow and rapidly falling temperatures. Snow will fall in the valley, with difficult driving conditions over Rabbit Ears Pass lasting through Friday thanks to snowfall rates as high as an inch per hour at times and blowing snow.

Winds should switch to be from the southwest and south ahead of the storm to the west as the storm moves overhead tonight and then our favorable northwest direction by tomorrow. I would expect 5-10” of snow on the Friday morning mid-mountain report, with another 5-10” falling during the day as orographic, or terrain-driven, snowfall continues as the winds lift the air mass up and over the Park Range. While the bulk of the snowfall should fall tonight and during the day tomorrow, snow showers should continue in the favorable cold, moist and unstable northwest flow through midnight on Friday with another 1-4” possible.

Temperatures should fall to near ten degrees up top by Friday morning and only warm into the teens, with high temperatures in town in the low thirties, about fifteen degrees below our average of 47 F.

Mostly sunny skies should return on Saturday as a transient ridge of high pressure moves across the West, lifting temperatures to the upper twenties on the hill and low forties in town. Temperatures will warm further toward fifty degrees on Sunday in town and thirties near the top of the hill with some passing clouds for a nice weekend.

Another storm quite similar to the Friday storm, but likely colder, is forecast to start later Monday and last through midweek, so winter is certainly not done with us yet. Enjoy the powder on Friday and what should be a beautiful weekend, and I’ll be back Sunday afternoon with more details about our next spring snowstorm.

Near record cold to start the work week

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Temperatures have reached ten degrees in the town of Steamboat Springs and seven degrees near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under mostly sunny skies this Sunday mid-morning. The cold will stick around for today and Monday with high temperatures in town approaching record low values only in the twenties along with a chance of light snow from Sunday night through Monday. A mostly sunny day Tuesday will begin a warming trend that will extend into Thursday ahead of our next spring snowstorm for the end of the work week.

A broad area of low pressure with Siberian origins is currently extending from coast to coast with another cold storm moving southward along the British Columbia coast. A circulation center currently located over Idaho is forecast to move over our area on Monday, bringing another push of unseasonably cold air and the chance for light snow showers from Sunday night through the day Monday that could leave 1-4” of snowfall at mid-mountain by Monday afternoon.

Incidentally, It appears we have the best chance of breaking the record on Monday for the coldest high temperature of 27 F set in 1931 behind the last cold front in this series, and if it makes you feel any warmer the record for the highest temperature on that day was a scorching 70 F set in 1897!

The British Columbia storm is forecast to form an eddy and travel southward along the West Coast through the work work, forcing a ridge of high pressure to form over the Intermountain West thanks to winds from the southwest bringing warm and dry air northward. But before we see that warming, clearing skies, fresh snow cover and light winds will allow low temperatures on Tuesday to likely fall below zero for the coldest morning of the week, around 25 degrees below our average of 22 F. And again, if it makes you feel any warmer, the record low temperature on Tuesday was -20 F set in 1975, and shockingly, the high temperature was only 12 F, also set in 1975!

Thanks to the high late-March sun angle, temperatures will recover into the thirties on a sunny Tuesday and forties on Wednesday, which will still be below our average of 49 F. Meanwhile, that West Coast storm is forecast to reach southern California on Wednesday before turning east as the eddy rejoins the jet stream by Thursday.

There may be some passing clouds on Wednesday and to start Thursday before the snow flies again to end the work week as that West Coast storm moves overhead. There is some uncertainty in the timing, with the more consistent European ECMWF bringing the bulk of the significant accumulations between Thursday and Friday nights.

Be sure to check back Thursday afternoon where I’ll have some snowfall guesses for our next spring snowstorm and discuss what is currently looking like a nice weekend in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative.

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15 June 2019

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