Wintry weather arrives tonight

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Temperatures are in the low seventies under partly sunny skies and winds are ripping out of the southwest this Thursday mid-afternoon in Steamboat Springs ahead of a very strong cold front timed for tonight. We’ll wake up to snow on Friday morning and see afternoon high temperatures over thirty degrees below today! And with more snow into Saturday and continued cold temperatures, this weekend will feel more wintry than summery.

A storm that had been developing this week in the Gulf of Alaska has been pushed eastward by a building ridge of high pressure that has taken its place, and is currently moving across the Pacific Northwest. Cold air has been pouring into the storm from both western and central Canada, leading to the current very windy conditions as air is accelerated between the very cold airmass to our northwest and the very warm airmass to our southeast.

A strong cold front is forecast to pass through our area tonight, with the leading edge of cold air arriving this evening. A number of disturbances will reinforce the storm through the weekend and the beginning of the work week, so don’t expect a quick recovery back to our current summery weather.

While the Front Range, and more so the foothills, will see the brunt of the snowfall, we should wake up to some snow on the non-paved surfaces down in town Friday morning, with snowfall tapering off later in the morning and afternoon before picking up again Friday night. And expect unseasonably cold temperatures through the weekend, most pronounced on Friday as temperatures struggle to get much above 40 F, which is 25 F below our average of 65 F.

The cold unsettled weather will stick around on Saturday, and though we may see showers, especially in the afternoon, the bulk of the accumulating precipitation should be over by Saturday evening. We could see 2-5” of accumulated snowfall in town and 5-10” at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort, which can be examined through the Steamboat Powdercam and Steamboat mid-mountain Powedercam. If skies clear or even partially clear Saturday night, look for low temperatures five to ten degrees below our average of 34 F.

Temperatures should recover into the fifties on Sunday, though the unsettled weather looks to stick around through the beginning of the work week as another two disturbances are forecast to rotate through the area of low pressure over the West. Weather forecast models disagree on the timing and amplitude of these additional disturbances, but showery weather currently looks possible from Sunday afternoon through Tuesday, albeit with slowly warming temperatures. Lot’s of weather to get through before then , so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have more details on next week’s weather.

Unsettled weather on Tuesday and Wednesday ahead of cold front later Thursday

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-sixties are over the Steamboat Springs area early this delightful Sunday afternoon. A couple of weather disturbances will bring increasing clouds on Monday and a chance of showers on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday as temperatures stay warm. While Thursday will start beautifully, it looks to end with a strong cold front that may bring snowflakes back to our area starting that night.

Currently, a strong storm is in the Gulf of Alaska while another weaker storm is located further southwest along the Dateline. A ridge of high pressure has build over the West ahead of the Gulf of Alaska storm and has brought the absolutely gorgeous late spring weather overhead this weekend. Look for temperatures to be around five to ten degrees above our average of 64 F, with thankfully a break in the windy weather of late.

The mostly clear skies should stick around tonight for a great show of the super flower blood moon total lunar eclipse, with totality centered around 10:11 pm. That’s a lot of adjectives; super relates to the apparent larger size of the moon at its closest point to earth, flower is one of the names given to May’s full moon and blood reflects the moon’s reddish hue when viewed within the shadow of the earth.

While Monday may see even warmer temperatures than today, we should see increasing clouds as a weather disturbance passes to our south. Another disturbance follows on Tuesday with slightly cooler temperatures and a good chance of showers in the afternoon and evening. Still a third disturbance is forecast for Wednesday, though afternoon and evening showers look less likely than on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to undergo a complex evolution early in the work week before the Dateline storm forces that storm inland around Wednesday. There is considerable weather forecast uncertainty with regards to precipitation, though a strong cold front arriving later Thursday preceded by and accompanied with very gusty winds from the west looks likely. If the front can hold off until the evening, we’ll see another warm day with high temperatures around seventy, though temperatures will plummet as the front arrives.

The American model forecasts snow down the the Yampa Valley floor by Friday morning, though the European model has become increasingly less optimistic about that possibility. I expect changes to the forecast through the week, but the details should be clearer by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Pleasant weekend with decreasing winds ahead

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Temperatures are around fifty degrees under mostly cloudy skies with continuing gusty winds in the Steamboat Springs area late this Thursday afternoon. But the winds will gradually decrease and temperatures will rise each day through the weekend, making Sunday the nicest day with temperatures around seventy degrees under sunny skies and relatively calm winds.

A dry cold front barreled through our region last night, dropping the afternoon high temperatures today more than twenty degrees from our over seventy degree Wednesday. The mostly cloudy skies today will switch to be mostly sunny on Friday as temperatures warm about ten degrees towards our average high of 63 F behind the departing cold front.

Several weather disturbances will graze our area through Saturday, but they have all weakened and moved further north since my forecast from last Sunday, so no precipitation is expected. Fortunately though, their further north trajectories also mean gradually decreasing winds on Friday and Saturday, along with increasing temperatures as a ridge of high pressure moves through the West this weekend. This does not mean no wind, though, so expect afternoon breezes on both Friday and Saturday, with temperatures on Saturday rising about five degrees into the mid sixties, along with some increasing cloudiness through the afternoon and evening.

Sunday looks to be the warmest day of the weekend with temperatures rising another five degrees toward 70 F under sunny skies, with thankfully very little wind. More of the same is expected to start the work week as the ridge of high pressure moves overhead.

A couple of weather disturbances may bring some unsettled weather to our area around Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, though these are currently looking warm and modest at best. So enjoy the beautiful weekend, and check back Sunday afternoon for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative where I’ll discuss the precipitation potential for next week.

Warming temperatures with continued wind through midweek

Sunday, May 8, 2022

The Steamboat Springs area is seeing temperatures around sixty degrees under partly sunny skies with breezy winds from the west early this Sunday afternoon. A grazing cool front will knock temperatures back about ten degrees or so on Monday along with chances for showers tonight and early morning. But winds will turn to be from the southwest starting on Tuesday as sunny skies and warming temperatures persist through midweek ahead of a broad storm system to our west. The weather then turns unsettled by Thursday and lasts into the weekend as parts of that storm system pass nearby or overhead.

The eastward progress of a broad and cold storm system currently extending from the Aleutian Islands to the Dakotas is being blocked by a ridge of high pressure over the Mississippi Valley. Some energy ejecting out of that storm system brought a grazing cool front through our area yesterday afternoon which produced almost six inches of snow near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort and almost a half inch of rain in the Yampa Valley by this morning.

Our wind speeds are forecast to stay elevated for much of the next week as the storm to our west reluctantly moves eastward. Another grazing cool front is forecast for tonight, and while there may be some snow showers at the higher elevations and rain showers down low, possibly mixed with snowflakes, it’s main effect will be to lower high temperatures to around ten degrees below our average of 61 F on Monday.

The storm system is first forecast to deepen along the West Coast through midweek before some cold air sourced from Siberia eventually gets pieces of the storm system moving eastward. The southwesterly winds ahead of the storm will keep dry and warm air from the Desert Southwest moving overhead on Tuesday and Wednesday, so look for mostly sunny skies and high temperatures warming into the sixties on Tuesday and possible the seventies by Wednesday, which will be the warmest day of the week.

Also by Wednesday, that cold air from Siberia will be moving across the Gulf of Alaska and is forecast to move some of the western storm eastward, bringing an initially dry cool front through our area on Thursday. There may be enough moisture for some showers by Thursday afternoon or overnight, though weather forecast models have trended less optimistic with those chances over the last few days.

The Siberian part of the storm is forecast to take a more northerly track through the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West, but looks to be close enough to keep cool weather around for Friday and Saturday. There is weather forecast model disagreement on precipitation potential, though at this point the American model does have a chance of snow Friday night or Saturday, possibly down to the Yampa Valley floor.

Enjoy the warming but windy springtime weather through midweek, and I’ll have an update on the coming weekend weather in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Warming temperatures and increasing winds ahead of cold front later Saturday

Thursday, May 5, 2022

After a rainy start to the day, skies have cleared and temperatures have warmed into the mid-fifties in the town of Steamboat Springs this Thursday mid-afternoon. Temperatures will further warm into the sixties on Friday and Saturday as winds increase from the west and southwest ahead of a grazing cold front timed for Saturday afternoon or evening. Temperatures will be knocked back by about ten degrees on Sunday, though it is not clear if we see a couple more grazing cool fronts on Sunday and Monday nights.

Though town saw rain showers this morning, snow was observed on Mt. Werner, with two day storm totals of around 5” at mid-mountain and 7.5” up top. While this has not significantly added to our snowpack, it has at least arrested the seasonal decline for a couple of days, with the Yampa-White-Little Snake basin showing the current snow water equivalent as being 89% of the 30 year running mean.

An expansive area of low pressure currently over the entire Gulf of Alaska is forecast to evolve through the weekend as cold air from the north and northwest interacts with approaching Pacific moisture and energy. Weather forecast models have trended deeper and slower with the bulk movement of the low pressure area; indeed the mid-weekend storm that looked far more promising only a few days ago is now forecast to stay mostly to our west through the weekend.

Many waves of moisture will move through this area of low pressure through the following week, with some strengthening the system in place while others move through. One wave currently crossing the Pacific Northwest will move to our north on Friday and have no affect on our weather, but the next one looks to drag a grazing cold front through northern Colorado later Saturday afternoon or evening. Ahead of that, high temperatures warm into the sixties on Friday and Saturday, around five degrees or so above our average of 60 F, with mostly sunny skies on Friday giving way to a mix of sun and clouds on Saturday.

Winds from the west will pick up on Saturday as the cold front approaches, with the best chance of showers centered around Saturday night. It is not clear if some of the cold air filters in Saturday afternoon or waits for the evening, but the system should be warm enough for snow accumulations of 1-4” to be confined to the higher elevations by Sunday morning.

A couple more waves are forecast to pass through the system on Sunday and Monday nights, though it is not clear if they will be close enough to do much more than knock high temperatures back into the fifties along with a chance of some passing showers, most likely on Sunday afternoon and evening.

What seems to be clearer, however, is that the bulk of our storm to our west will stay to our west as it is reinvigorated by some cold air from Siberia during the work week. This should lead to more wind and temperatures reaching into the seventies by midweek. A large amount of uncertainty exists after then, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for a peek at what we may see after the midweek warming.

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15 December 2020

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