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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.

Cold and showery weather through the weekend punctuated by Friday night storm

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Temperatures are near thirty degrees in the town of Steamboat Springs and seventeen degrees near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under cloudy skies this Thursday mid-morning. The storm cycle that started Monday afternoon and left sixteen inches at mid-mountain and thirty inches up top so far will continue through the weekend at lighter intensities except for Friday night when a strong cold front passes through and brings periods of moderate to heavy snowfall.

Currently, that storm from near Japan containing very cold air sourced from Siberia I discussed in the Sunday weather narrative is nosing into the Pacific Northwest, and is forcing our current storm to the east. Snow showers will continue just behind the departing storm for today and tonight, though accumulations on the hill be quite light, with only 1-4” expected by the Friday morning mid-mountain ski report.

A short break, if one could call it that, should be over our area Friday morning as the incoming storm mixes with more cold air from western Canada and evolves in a complex manner with two circulation centers. Snow showers should be restarting again by Friday afternoon and become moderate to heavy overnight when a strong cold front passes through ahead of the first circulation center. I would expect 5-10” of fluffy powder at mid-mountain by the cold Saturday morning report, with some of that in the afternoon but most overnight.

Accompanying the cold front will be unseasonably cold temperatures with highs in town in the low to mid-twenties, around twenty degrees below our average of 45 F, and high temperatures near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort in the single digits. Lows will be around zero degrees at all elevations, which is also twenty degrees below our average in town.

Snow showers will continue during the day Saturday for a cold mid-winter feeling day, regardless of what the calendar says, as the first circulation center passes overhead. Though showers may stop for a time from Saturday night through Sunday morning, or not, we could see 2-5” for the Sunday morning report most of which should fall during Saturday.

Snow showers should get going again by Sunday afternoon and overnight on another cold day as the second circulation center passes overhead. While the snows look to end on Monday for a couple of days, the cold temperatures look to stick around for one last day before a ridge of high pressure ahead of the next midweek storm brings warmer, but still below average temperatures on Tuesday. And that ridge of high pressure may bring some periods of sunshine for the sun-starved inhabitants of the Yampa Valley on Monday afternoon and Tuesday.

Be sure to check back on Sunday afternoon for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative where I’ll discuss the departing Sunday storm and how much snow it may leave by Monday morning as well as the next midweek storm.

Cold and snowy week ahead

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Chilly temperatures in the low teens and sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area at all elevations this Sunday mid-morning. Even though the first day of spring is tomorrow, the weather has other ideas as a series of wet and increasingly cold Pacific systems bring chances for snow for each day of the work week that will continue into next weekend.

Our gorgeous three day stretch of mid-winter-feeling weather this weekend ends in a dramatic fashion for the first day of astronomical spring, which occurs at 3:24 pm MDT on Monday during the vernal equinox, when the sun crosses over the equator for its northern hemisphere summer stay.

A very active weather pattern currently spans the entire Pacific ocean, with chunks of very cold air continually breaking away from Siberia and eventually mixing with relatively narrow but very wet atmospheric rivers from the subtropics.

A cold storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska has mixed with an atmospheric river near Hawaii, colloquially known as the Pineapple Express, and a wave of energy ejecting out of the storm is bringing another round of heavy precipitation to the Sierras. The wave will cross the Great Basin tonight, and we should see increasing clouds later today before precipitation breaks out during the day Monday over our area.

Winds at mountain-top level will shift to be from the current southwest direction to the west later Monday and eventually our favorable northwest direction overnight. While it is always tricky predicting snowfall in the generally unfavorable southwest flow thanks to winds downsloping off the Flat Tops and drying the atmosphere, 1-4” of snowfall is possible in the afternoon, with another 3-6” likely overnight at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort.

Snowfall should end for a short time during the day Tuesday behind the wave, and there may even be some sun ahead of the next more significant precipitation event on Wednesday. Another cold storm with Siberian origins currently east of Japan is forecast to cross the Dateline on Monday and force the Gulf of Alaska storm bodily eastward and across the central California coast on Tuesday.

More of the Pineapple Express is forecast to be incorporated into the storm which will eventually span the entire West by Thursday after energy either ejects out ahead of it or rotates around it. Right now, the most intense precipitation should be between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, first in winds from the southwest and then the west if the center of the storm reforms over Wyoming Wednesday night as currently forecast.

I would expect 1-4” of snowfall at mid-mountain by the Wednesday morning report, with another 4-8” for the Thursday morning report. Cool and snow-showery weather looks to continue for the rest of the work week as that Japan storm eventually reaches the Pacific Northwest coast on Thursday and we see favorable cool, somewhat moist and unstable northwest flow between the incoming and departing storms.

It currently looks like that Japan storm will eventually move near our area to start the following weekend for more snow chances, though there is a lot of weather to get through before there is some certainty to that forecast. So be sure to check back Thursday afternoon for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative where I will focus on that next weekend storm.

Beautiful but cool weekend ahead

Thursday, March 16, 2023

After seven inches of new snow was reported at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort and a foot up top, mostly sunny skies with cool temperatures in the upper twenties are over the town of Steamboat Springs this Thursday mid-afternoon with low teens near the top of the hill. A very pleasant weekend with cool temperatures and continued mostly sunny skies will precede what is currently looking like another significant storm for the following work week.

The northern branch of our departing storm is currently located in the Dakotas while an area of low pressure associated with the southern branch spans from southern California to the Texas panhandle. Counter-clockwise flow around the northern branch has allowed winds from the north to carry additional cold air from the central Canadian Plains over our area, with the high temperature for today in town staying over ten degrees below our average of 42 F.

Low temperatures this weekend will be even further below our average low of 18 F, especially for Friday morning as subzero temperatures twenty to thirty degrees below average are likely thanks to fresh snow cover, light winds and clear skies.

The cool temperatures look to stick around for Friday and Saturday, though plenty of mid-March sun will help buffer the unseasonably cold temperatures. Temperatures will be warming by Sunday as a ridge of high pressure ahead of our next storm moves overhead and cuts off the flow of cold air from the north, though will still stay below average and in the thirties.

This next storm is currently located near the Aleutian Islands, and is another unseasonably cold storm thanks to its origins in Siberia and the addition of more cold air from the Arctic Circle through this past work week. Forecasts call for the southern end of this storm to be forced eastward toward the West Coast in a complex manner by another cold storm currently over Japan, and we should start seeing cloudy skies by Monday as energy begins ejecting out of the storm.

The storm will also gain moisture from the subtropics as it moves across the eastern Pacific in another atmospheric river event, and while any showers that move overhead on Monday and Tuesday will be quite light, that could change by midweek if the storm evolves as currently forecast. So enjoy the beautiful weekend weather, and be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have more details about our next winter storm.

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1 July 2021

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