Taste of Autumn

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Temperatures are in the mid-sixties this Thursday afternoon with a mix of some sun and clouds over the Steamboat Springs area after a rainy morning. A cold fall-like storm currently in Utah will swing through our region overnight bringing more rainfall and even a dusting of snow at the higher elevations. While similarly cool temperatures will persist for Friday, they’ll warm through the weekend and the following work week under mostly sunny skies.

The center of a quite cold storm by mid-August standards is on our doorstep, with significant rainfall ahead of the storm being reported around town this morning. Between two and four tenths of rainfall was reported across the region as of 7 am this morning, with that much or more expected by tomorrow morning as waves of energy and moisture associated with the storm move overhead through tonight.

The coldest air will not be overhead till early Friday morning when most of the moisture will have passed, but snow levels will be low enough for a dusting of snow at the higher elevations. There may even be snowflakes on top of Mt. Werner, though unfortunately the Steamboat Powdercam is not currently active to verify that. Feel free to comment in this blog if you happen to be camping at the higher elevations and see this ski season’s first snowfall!

While precipitation will be over early Friday, the air mass will be slow to recover and again we will see high temperatures in the sixties on Friday, around ten to fifteen degrees below our average of 80 F, though with lots of sun.

The weekend is looking quite pleasant, with temperatures recovering into the seventies even as another storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast Friday night. However, a ridge of high pressure centered over the southeast will deflect the storm to our northwest, but not before some increasing winds later Saturday along with the slight chance of some afternoon and overnight showers.

The ridge of high pressure elongates to the northwest and over our area by the beginning of the work week, leading to mostly sunny skies and temperatures warming to around average which persist through midweek, along with some breezes. There is very dry air lurking to our west, though that is forecast to battle the monsoonal moisture traveling northward along the west side of the high pressure, so there may be a small chance of a late-day shower, or not, depending upon the daily outcome of that battle.

Another storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest midweek, but again the forecasts are for the storm to deflect around our area, and right now it looks like we will see dry weather with some more breezes to close out the work week. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for any updates to the pleasant weather forecast.

First fall-like cool front of the season to arrive midweek

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Temperatures are once again around eighty degrees in the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon under mostly sunny skies. Better cloud cover than yesterday and a chance of late-day showers should shave at least a few degrees from the last two days of hot temperatures, where 89 F and 91 F were recorded at the Bob Adams airport. A couple more hot days are forecast to start the work week before our first fall-like cool front is advertised for later Wednesday, accompanied by good chances for beneficial rainfall through Thursday.

A ridge of high pressure currently over much of the West has brought the hot temperatures around ten degrees above our 81 F average this past work week to our high valley in north-central Colorado. There looks to be better moisture overhead today than in the past week as indistinct circulations underneath the ridge of high pressure bring some moisture to our south northward, so there is some chance of afternoon and evening showers.

Meanwhile, a couple of storms off the Aleutian Islands are forecast to mix with some southward moving cold air near the seasonally cooling North Pole over the next couple of days before moving across the Gulf of Alaska. The first storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast Monday night and move across the Great Basin on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Expect another couple of hot days on Monday and Tuesday with shower chances near nil as some dry air ahead of the Pacific Northwest storm moves overhead. But increasing winds from the southwest ahead of the storm will combine with the clockwise flow around the high pressure area forecast to be to our east to substantially increase moisture over our area during Wednesday, leading to a good chance of late-day showers.

Weather forecast models are struggling with the speed of the storm, with the latest runs trending slower, but right now it looks the season’s first fall-like cool front should pass through our area overnight Wednesday. We will likely see showers ahead of the front, and if the front slows down, we could see another hot and mostly dry Wednesday afternoon, or not if showers begin in the afternoon.

Moisture with the storm will then combine with the moisture brought northward ahead of the storm leading to high precipitation chances from Wednesday night through Thursday night, with chances perhaps lingering into Friday morning as additional surges of cool air follow the first front. We could go from high temperatures near ninety degrees on Tuesday to high temperatures struggling to reach seventy degrees on a showery Thursday.

And the coldest air of the storm does not reach us until Friday morning when most of the showers will have ended, but snow levels are forecast to go as low as 11,500′. So look to the higher surrounding peaks Friday morning to see the first dusting of snowfall of the season!

It looks like at least another couple of likely dry cool fronts will pass through northern Colorado as we head into and through next weekend, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see what’s in store for the end of next week.

Shower chances return starting Friday

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Temperatures are around eighty degrees in the Steamboat Springs area under cloudless and less smokey skies this Thursday noon, on their way to the mid and upper eighties. The chance for afternoon and evening showers returns on Friday and at least Saturday as some moisture returns to the area, with our first fall-like cool front forecast to approach our area around midweek

A broad ridge of high pressure currently sitting over the Gulf of Alaska and extending into the Intermountain West is flanked by deep and cold areas of low pressure over the Bering Sea and Hudson Bay. The Bering Sea storm is forecast to move east and force the ridge of high pressure to also move east and weaken over the weekend.

Indistinct circulations under the ridge of high pressure will allow some moisture from the south to move overhead starting on Friday, fueling possible afternoon and evening storms for Friday and Saturday with continued warm afternoon temperatures around five degrees or so above our average of 81 F. The refreshingly cool overnight lows will continue to run around or a few degrees below our average of 45 F.

The Thursday morning NOAA smoke plume forecast has some smoke hanging around today and tomorrow, though far less than we saw earlier in the week when winds from the west transported smoke from California wildfires directly into our area. This model has the smoke increasing modestly on Saturday as winds circulating underneath the ridge of high pressure carry smoke originally from the British Columbia wildfires over the region.

By mid-weekend, the Bering Sea storm is forecast to move into the Gulf of Alaska and by late Sunday cross the Pacific Northwest coast. We may see some dry air ahead of the storm on Sunday for a reduced chance of afternoon storms, or not, under continued above average temperatures.

By Monday we will see another warm day with increased winds from the southwest as the Pacific Northwest storm moves inland, with the storm currently indicated to bring a couple of the season’s first fall-like cool fronts through the region around late Tuesday or Wednesday and Friday. And it looks like there will be significant moisture drawn northward in the southwest flow associated with the Pacific Northwest storm as it moves eastward, so beneficial rainfall of over a quarter inch is likely.

Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for details on what may be our first cool fronts of the season and the increased chances for wet weather next week.

Warming temperatures this week under continued smokey skies

Sunday, August 8, 2021

After a break from the smoke on Friday, it has returned to the Steamboat Springs area this weekend with temperatures in the upper seventies early this Sunday afternoon under sunny but hazy skies. While smoke should decrease later this afternoon and evening, its back tomorrow as a grazing storm increases winds from the west. We probably won’t see much cooling tomorrow associated with the dry storm, but high temperatures will increase into the mid-eighties on Tuesday and remain there for the rest of the upcoming week, save for possibly Thursday when another grazing wave may briefly knock temperatures down a few degrees.

As it looks like the smoke in our area will not be short-lived, I have installed the Purple Air widget at the top of the SnowAlarm home page, and have added another smoke forecast map at the top of the NOAA smoke plume forecasts page. This forecast map shows improving air quality this afternoon and evening, though another batch of smoke from the California wildfires overspreads our area after midnight and Monday as winds from the west pick up due to a storm to our north grazing our area tomorrow. We may see temperatures knocked back to around our average high of 82 F on Monday if any of the cool air makes it into our region, but if not, expect another warm day.

While the smoke may inhibit the warming during the day, luckily it does not interfere with nighttime cooling, so expect low temperatures around our average of 45 F, or even a bit cooler in low-lying areas and possibly on Tuesday morning as a cooler air mass grazes our area.

Behind the grazing storm on Monday, a ridge of high pressure builds over the Gulf of Alaska through the work week, decreasing winds and shifting them to be from the northwest. The smoke plume model only goes out 48 hours, but similar to Saturday, this wind direction is likely to move smoke from the British Columbia fires over our area, though that is just a guess.

So expect temperatures to stay warm for the work week, with possibly a bit cooler start to the day on Thursday morning as a wave moves over the ridge of high pressure to our west into a low pressure area centered over Hudson Bay and extending southward into the Midwest.

Weather forecast models do have that ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska moving eastward around the weekend, though disagree on how quickly that happens and the strength of the high pressure system. They do agree that our winds will shift to be more from the south, which should not only clear the air of the work week smoke but introduce some moisture to our area, though it is too early to tell if we will see any precipitation.

There may be a better surge of moisture from the south after next weekend, but that is dependent upon the strength of incoming Pacific storms which are not well represented a week away. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for details on next weekend and the following work week, and feel free to regularly consult the SnowAlarm home page for the current air quality status, temperatures and wind.

Smoke briefly clears on Friday ahead of breezy cool front

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area are around eighty degrees under cloudless but smokey skies early this Thursday afternoon. The smoke will briefly clear on Friday ahead of a cool front that should bring breezy winds from the west along with a chance of afternoon showers. A cooler Saturday will be followed by a warmer Sunday before temperatures are knocked back again by several degrees through midweek by a couple more grazing cool fronts.

Our weather has transitioned from a very productive week of monsoonal flow typical of mid to late summer to a drier regime with flow from the northwest more typical of late summer to early fall. The past persistent ridge of high pressure over the West has been vanquished for the medium term by a series of low pressure areas from the Pacific Northwest and Canada that has severed the moisture flow from the south and brought cooler air from the northwest overhead.

But not before we added to the rainfall totals discussed in the Sunday weather narrative, with an additional half inch reported in town and around Steamboat Lake on Tuesday and Wednesday with closer to three quarters of an inch on the mountain and around Stagecoach reservoir.

Interestingly, the temperature range between the high and low on Tuesday was only nine degrees between the low of 56 F and 65 F as clouds inhibited warming during the day and cooling at night, and increased over three times that to thirty degrees on Wednesday as the low fell to 48 F, 2 degrees above average and the high rose 78 F, 4 degrees below average.

Unfortunately, the shift in the weather pattern has also transported smoke from fires in British Columbia into our region, though that is expected to clear on Friday as winds shift to be from the southwest early in the day ahead of a cool front later in the day. There is a bit of moisture associated with the front, so expect increasingly breezy winds from the west as the front approaches, with some passing showers in the afternoon.

Saturday temperatures will be several degrees below average, though the winds from the west will again transport smoke into our area according to the latest NOAA smoke plume model, this time from the northern California wildfires. Temperatures warm to above average on Sunday as a transitory ridge of high pressure builds over the central Rockies ahead of dry grazing cool front on Monday that knocks temperatures back again. Temperatures may try to rise a bit for Tuesday but another dry grazing cool front is currently timed for Wednesday.

A ridge of high pressure is forecast to move into the Gulf of Alaska by midweek and build over the West soon after, so another warm spell with temperatures five to ten degrees above average will follow the near-average temperatures earlier in the week. Weather forecast models disagree on the exact orientation of the ridge of high pressure by next weekend, and we could see the return of modest monsoonal moisture, or not, under continued warm temperatures. As usual, I’ll know more by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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