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Warmer weekend starts sunny and ends stormy

Thursday, February 16, 2023

A cold but thankfully sunny day was over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday with high temperatures reaching only 16 F in town and 5 F near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort. After another subzero night at all elevations, temperatures should warm into the twenties in town and on the hill during a mostly sunny Friday and Saturday. A quick moving storm will bring some snow for Sunday with a quick break early Monday before a very active winter weather pattern engulfs the West through midweek.

A ridge of high pressure has set up shop over the eastern Pacific, allowing cold air from Siberia to mix to some degree with moist subtropical air from moving northward along the west side of the ridge. As the initially cold storms first ride over the top of the ridge and then down its eastern side into the West, even more cold air is drawn into the storms from Alaska and then western Canada.

With that pattern in mind, a series of storms looks to impact our weather starting on Sunday. The first one is currently elongating along the West Coast and splitting, with the southern end of the split forming an eddy that is forecast to move slowly southward off the coast through the weekend and eventually approach Baja.

Ahead of the split and behind the departing storm, a transient ridge of high pressure is forecast to move over the West, bringing sunny skies and moderating daytime temperatures to our area on Friday and Saturday. But the clear skies means cold overnight temperatures, especially in the Yampa Valley, with minus teens likely tonight, and perhaps colder in the favored low-lying areas. And the cold valley temperatures to start the day mean we may not reach our average high temperature of freezing, even though that is what the numerical guidance is indicating.

While the northern part of the split should pass north of our area Saturday with no effect, clouds should increase later Saturday as another storm with a more southern track follows in our favorable northwest flow. This is a quick-moving storm that should leave 3-6” of snowfall at mid-mountain during the day Sunday, and though timing is still subject to change, right now the best snowfall looks to occur by noon with snow showers tapering off during the afternoon.

Currently it looks like Washington’s Birthday will start dry, but another quick moving wave looks to start a period of very active weather starting later Monday and lasting through midweek. One possibility has that Baja eddy moving east and perhaps supplying some moisture to a very strong and cold incoming storm.

But there are lots of moving pieces after Sunday, and I hope to have some more clarity on the storms by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative sometime on Sunday, depending on when I need to sample the snowfall.

Some snow Tuesday and Wednesday with cold temperatures

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Temperatures are around twenty degrees at all elevations in the Steamboat Springs area under clearing skies late this Sunday morning. A couple of storms will skirt our area on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the first storm increasing clouds by Monday afternoon and bringing a passing chance of flurries. The stronger second storm looks to bring only light snow from Tuesday through Wednesday, but with much colder temperatures that will persist through Thursday.

The first relatively warm storm is currently an eddy in southern California while the second and much colder storm is in the Gulf of Alaska. The second storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Monday and force the California eddy northeastward across Arizona during the day Monday and northern New Mexico Monday night.

Ahead of the eddy, temperatures today will be a bit cooler than yesterday as the overnight clouds clear behind a grazing cool front from a dry wave currently located in North Dakota. Temperatures warm on Monday as winds turn to be from the south ahead the eastward-moving eddy, along with increasing clouds by the afternoon that may produce some flurries.

The flurries may persist overnight, or not, with an inch possible by the Tuesday morning mid-mountain ski report with our southern neighbors seeing the best accumulations.

Meanwhile, the second storm is forecast to move into the Great Basin on Monday and grow colder as it mixes with some cold air from western Canada. This will cause the storm to split on Tuesday as it crosses the Great Basin, with the southern part of the storm forming an eddy over the Four Corners region by Wednesday morning.

Again, our southern neighbors will see the best accumulations, though all of Colorado will see much colder temperatures. There are a couple of factors limiting our accumulations, including the splitting storm moving around our area and a period of easterly winds on the north side of the southern part of the split later Tuesday.

Right now, it looks like light snow showers are likely during the day Tuesday as some energy from the Great Basin storm grazes our area along with possibly strong winds from the west, though later in the day the winds turn easterly and the strong down-sloping winds off the Park Range look to squash any snow showers. We could see 1-4” of accumulations by the Wednesday morning ski report.

Another chance for snowfall looks to occur Wednesday as the strongest winds from the east subside and eventually turn to be from the north and then our favorable northwest direction later Wednesday. However, the atmosphere rapidly dries, and total accumulations through the day Wednesday look again to be in the 1-4” range.

High temperatures in town look to be only in the low twenties on Tuesday, around ten degrees below our average of 31 F, and the teens on Wednesday and Thursday. Low temperatures look to be subzero on both Thursday and Friday mornings, well below our average of 5 F.

The end of the work week and the start of the long Presidents Day weekend looks to start sunny and warmer as a ridge of high pressure moves through the West behind the midweek storm and ahead of a possible stormy pattern that starts around the end of the weekend. I’ll certainly have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Nice weekend for the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival

Thursday, February 9, 2023

A cold day that started snowy but gave way to peeks of sun is over the Steamboat Springs area late this Thursday afternoon. The fresh snow from last night will conspire with clearing skies tonight to produce very cold subzero morning temperatures for Friday, with those cold morning low temperatures slowly moderating through the weekend. But the cold mornings will be followed by plenty of sunshine for some beautiful winter days surrounding the 110th Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival which runs from yesterday through Sunday.

A storm containing some cold Siberian air brought 7” to mid-mountain and 9” to the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort this Thursday morning, with another 2” falling at mid-mountain during the morning. Behind the departing storm and ahead of an elongated area of low pressure extending from the Pacific Northwest Coast through the Gulf of Alaska and into Alaska, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to move through the Intermountain West through Sunday.

The ridge will bring dry weather with plenty of sunshine, with some passing clouds from time to time especially later Saturday and overnight. Clearing skies tonight should conspire with the fresh snow cover to produce low temperatures in the minus teens in town, well below our average of 5 F.

But the sun on Friday will warm temperatures into the twenties, which will still be below our average of 30 F. But we may reach into the thirties on Saturday ahead of possible afternoon cloudiness, with the low temperature of the day starting out around zero.

If clouds are overhead Saturday night, they will help insulate the surface of the earth like a blanket, so low temperatures will warm to above average for Sunday morning.

Meanwhile that area of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to split as it crosses the West Coast Friday night, with the southern part of the split forming an eddy that moves south across California over the weekend and then east across Arizona on Monday. The northern part of the split is forecast to move across Montana on Saturday and may bring a dry grazing cool front for our area on Sunday that will knock the high temperatures down a few degrees.

And while the southern eddy may eventually affect southern Colorado on Tuesday, we look to stay north of any weather until the next cold storm takes aim on our area for midweek.

This next storm is forecast to develop over the northwest Pacific as cold air from Siberia mixes with warm and moist subtropical air from the south before crossing the Dateline on Saturday. Another chunk of cold air from Alaska is then forecast to mix with the storm on Sunday before it moves across the Gulf of Alaska on Monday.

Right now, this significant and cold winter storm looks to affect our area around midweek, so enjoy the nice weekend and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have more details on our next storm and some snowfall guesses.

A couple of storms this work week

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Temperatures have warmed into the mid-twenties in the town of Steamboat Springs and near thirty degrees at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under partly sunny skies this Sunday noon. Breezy winds from the southwest will pick up today ahead of a storm lasting from tonight into Monday night. We’ll see a short break on Tuesday and Tuesday night ahead of the next storm lasting from Wednesday into Thursday morning. Nice weather is then forecast as we head into the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival weekend.

Winds have picked up from the southwest at the higher elevations ahead of a storm that traveled through the Gulf of Alaska on Saturday and crossed the West Coast last night. The storm is forecast to split as it crosses the Great Basin today, with our snowfall dependent upon how much energy and moisture ends up in the northern part of the split. Current forecasts have the cold front moving through our area around midnight, with 3-6” of snow expected for the Monday morning report. Snowfall will continue at lighter rates through the day as cold, moist and unstable flow from our favorable northwest direction follows behind the storm, with another 2-5” expected by Monday night by the time the snowfall tapers off.

Temperatures will take a dive from today, with highs around ten degrees up top and near twenty degrees in town on both Monday and Tuesday, though we may see some sun on Tuesday as a weakening ridge of high pressure quickly moves through the area.

The second storm is currently just south of the Aleutian Islands and is forecast to mix with some cold air originally from Siberia as it moves through the Gulf of Alaska on Monday and crosses the Pacific Northwest Coast on Tuesday. Weather forecast models have trended stronger with the storm, though there is uncertainty with the timing, with the best snowfall starting between Wednesday afternoon and evening along with increasing windy conditions as the day progresses. We could see 4-8” by the Thursday morning report with another inch or two possible in the morning if enough moisture lingers in our favorable cool and unstable northwest flow.

Meanwhile, another Pacific storm is forecast to mix with more cold air originally from Siberia and approach the West Coast next weekend. Weather forecast models tentatively agree that some sort of eddy will form, and a ridge of high pressure ahead of that eddy over the Intermountain West means warming temperatures and lots of sun to end our work week and start the weekend.

That eddy but more likely another upstream storm may affect our weather during the following work week, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for a better idea of when the next stormy pattern emerges.

Next chance for snow just after the weekend

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Bluebird skies and temperatures approaching ten degrees in the town of Steamboat Springs and fifteen degrees at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort are over the Yampa Valley late this Thursday morning. After seeing accumulating snow at mid-mountain for all but seven days in January, snowfall will take a break through the weekend with a mix of sun and clouds ahead of the next chance for snow on Monday.

January was quite the snowy month both in town and on the mountain, and the Steamboat Ski Resort recorded the second consecutive month (108”, 127”) of one hundred inches or more of accumulated snow for only the fifth time since 1980! The image below shows those consecutive months circled in red just below the total accumulated seasonal snowfall (as of January 2023).

Steamboat Resort snowfall statistics 1980 - 2023

Total and monthly seasonal snowfall at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort from 1980 - Jan 2023

Maximum 1 Day_Mean Snow Depth in since 1908Additionally, the town saw some impressive snowfall, though it appears that about two weeks of snowfall data have yet to be published by the official measuring site by the high school in Steamboat Springs. However, the measured snowfall depth of 56” on January 30 2023 ties the sixth most recorded on the ground since 1908 as shown in the accompanying chart!

And of course, it is no coincidence that the winter of 1996 - 1997, which holds the top 3 spots for base depth in town, also had 2 consecutive months of over one hundred inches of snowfall at the Steamboat Ski Resort.

But now we have clear skies, and there is not much weather to speak of through the weekend. A ridge of high pressure has build over the Intermountain West bringing clear skies and cold morning temperatures to our area. Pockets of moisture moving through the ridge may bring some clouds tonight into Friday morning, and again later Friday into Saturday as a weakening and dry wave moves through the ridge and travels through our area.

Our next chance of snow comes later Sunday and Monday as a shearing wave moves through our area between Sunday and Monday nights. Snowfall amounts from the storm currently look to be modest, with preliminary estimates in the 5-10” range. But I’ll have more details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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23 June 2017

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