Cold front tonight might bring snowflakes to the Yampa Valley floor

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Flash of Gold taken just before upper Spring Creek on 17 September 2021 After around a tenth of an inch of rainfall around the town of Steamboat Springs last night, temperatures are in the low sixties this Sunday noon with a mix of clouds and sun. A potent cold front this evening brings some snow to the higher elevations and perhaps even some snowflakes to the Yampa Valley floor by Monday morning. Much colder temperatures are expected to start the work week behind the front, with below freezing temperatures on Tuesday morning, before the sun returns and temperatures warm to around average by midweek.

An unseasonably cold storm currently moving through the Intermountain West has just brought some snow to the summit of Grand Targhee, with similar conditions expected for the Steamboat Ski Resort this evening. Ahead of the storm, temperatures should rise to around seventy degrees today, right at our average, with the possibility of a passing shower before the cold front arrives around mid-evening.

While moisture rapidly increases with the windy cold front, it also rapidly decreases behind it, so expect some good rain showers at the lower elevations and snow showers at the higher elevations, with the stronger showers perhaps briefly allowing snowflakes to reach the valley floor. Another push of cold air is forecast after midnight and before sunrise, accompanied by some showers which may again bring some snowflakes to town. All told, we may see around a quarter or third of an inch of precipitation by Monday morning.

Temperatures should be around freezing Monday morning, with likely clouds tempering the low temperatures, before the skies clear and a mix of sun and clouds return, though high temperatures will be mired in the fifties. A reinforcing surge of dry cold air arrives Monday night, and with the forecast clear skies, low temperatures will plummet to ten to fifteen degrees below our average of 34 F. Simply covering plants may not be enough to stave off the hard freeze, so consider harvesting whatever fruits and vegetables that are still growing.

A ridge of high pressure begins to move over the Rockies on Tuesday, so despite the cold start to the day, temperatures are expected to rise into the sixties with plenty of sun. This should begin an extended period of prime leaf-peeping as the low elevation underbrush and higher elevation aspen, shown in the included picture taken Friday on the Flash of Gold trail, are now turning. Even more warming is advertised for Wednesday as temperatures recover to around average.

Another incoming storm forecast to move through the Gulf of Alaska on Tuesday is forecast to move that ridge of high pressure to our east, though there is weather forecast model uncertainty as to how much of the storm forms an eddy in the vicinity of the Great Basin or further southwest and how much continues east. We may see a drop in temperatures by a few degrees on Thursday according the the American GFS, but along with plenty of sun as the grazing cool front will be dry.

Weather forecast models should have a much better handle on how much of the storm lingers over or southwest of the Great Basin for the weekend, and I’ll have details on whether that might affect our weekend weather in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Chance for showers returns mid-weekend

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Temperatures in the upper seventies along with mostly sunny skies and breezy winds are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon. Similar weather is forecast for Friday and most of Saturday, with sunnier skies, before some moisture is forecast to move overhead on Saturday night and Sunday and increase the chance for showers, followed by a dramatic cool-down on Monday.

A mostly dry storm currently moving across the northern Rockies is responsible for our increased winds and patchy clouds this afternoon. A cool front will graze Colorado tonight with most of the cold air confined to the Front Range, so expect a bit less wind on Friday along with more sun and similar temperatures in the mid to upper seventies, which is above our average high temperature of 71 F.

Saturday starts in a similar fashion, but an area of low pressure currently off the coast of southern California will be forced eastward ahead of a potent storm forecast to develop in the Gulf of Alaska through the weekend. Southerly flow ahead of that northeastward-moving area of low pressure will bring moisture from the south over our area starting later Saturday, so look for an increase in clouds with the chance of light showers developing. These chances should continue overnight and into Sunday morning when the area of low pressure is forecast to pass overhead.

Coincidentally, the unseasonably cold Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast Sunday morning and move through the Great Basin overnight. There may enough moisture left behind the departing low pressure disturbance and ahead of the incoming storm for some clouds, slightly cooler temperatures and a small chance of afternoon showers for the rest of Sunday.

Weather forecast models have struggled with the intensity, speed and moisture content of the incoming storm, with even snowflakes earlier forecast down to the Yampa Valley floor, but models have backed off that solution and right now several mostly dry surges of cold air look to pass through our area between Sunday and Monday nights.

Be sure to check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll be discussing the incoming storm and how cold the beginning of the work week may be.

Unsettled weather to start the work week

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area are right at the seventy degree mark this Sunday noon with a mix of sun and clouds behind the first of several cool fronts which grazed our area last night. A couple more grazing cool fronts will keep the unsettled weather around for today and Monday before we see more sun and warmer temperatures by midweek.

The strength and position of the jet stream is directly related to the temperature difference between the equator and the Poles, and as the northern latitudes cool in the autumn, the northern hemisphere, or boreal, jet stream becomes stronger and meanders further south. Right now, the jet stream is close enough to our area to allow passing storms to drag cool fronts through, with the first of several cool fronts passing last night.

So behind the first cool front, expect a mix of sun and clouds today with the possibility of a quick-moving shower later today as high temperatures drop from the 88 F observed on Friday and the 82 F observed yesterday into the mid-seventies today, right near our 74 F average.

Fortunately the front cleared the smoke from our area that was around for the past week, and it looks like the smoke will stay away for at least the beginning of the work week. The next grazing cool front is forecast for tonight, with another one forecast for Monday night, so look for the possibility of showers associated with the cool fronts to hang around through early Tuesday morning along with near average temperatures.

The winds shift to be more from the southwest by Tuesday afternoon which brings much drier air and sunny skies overhead, so expect high temperatures around seventy degrees on Tuesday, several degrees below average. Even though drier air moves overhead, there may be enough low-level moisture for an afternoon shower, though weather forecast models currently disagree on the possibility.

But dry weather is expected for the rest of the work week with temperatures warming to above average. These will be some quintessential mid September days consisting of warm and sunny afternoons in the seventies and cool nights in the thirties, perfect for the beginning of leaf-peeping season where there is already some color appearing in some locations.

Weather forecast models have a large storm moving across the Gulf of Alaska late in the work week, and we may see some increased moisture ahead of that storm by next weekend depending on the eventual track and strength of the storm. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll discuss that storm and what it might mean for our weekend weather.

Cooler temperatures and shower chances this weekend

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Temperatures near eighty degrees and sunny but smokey skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon. We will see continued hot temperatures and smoke through Friday before several grazing cool fronts bring cooler temperatures and modest shower chances to our neck of the woods in north central Colorado starting Saturday.

An expansive ridge of high pressure extending northward to almost the Arctic Circle is currently centered over the Four Corners, and has brought hot and dry weather to the western two thirds of the country this week. Meanwhile, a storm elongated to the south is currently in the Gulf of Alaska as another storm brews off the Aleutian Islands.

These storms are forecast to move eastward through the weekend and substantially weaken the dominant ridge of high pressure over the West, allowing several cool fronts to graze our area starting Saturday. There is some moisture associated with the storms, but not a lot, as well as some additional sparse moisture forecast to be carried northward along the western side of the flattened ridge of high pressure.

So expect another hot day on Friday with temperatures reaching the mid-eighties, like today, but with modestly improving air quality as the NOAA smoke plume model shows the main plume of smoke shifting to the east. However the smoke will be slow to clear as what is already here is recirculated under the heat dome tomorrow, with further improvement likely by Saturday ahead of the first in a series of grazing cool fronts.

The first cool front on Saturday will bring some breezy afternoon winds from the west, along with a chance of showers that may bring more wind than rain as the lower atmosphere starts very dry. High temperatures will also drop closer to our average of 74 F, with the shower chances persisting through the night.

Another grazing cool front for Sunday will keep the modest chances for showers around with continued high temperatures in the seventies. There is at least one more grazing cool front after the weekend, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss the shower chances to start the new work week.

More spectacular weather ahead

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Current temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area are right at the seventy degree mark under cloudless skies this Sunday noon. This spectacular and quintessential Colorado early September weather will continue through the work week.

A ridge of high pressure over the West is currently associated with very dry air, leading to our sunny warm days and cool nights. We’ve been right at our average high temperature of 76 F these past two days with further warming through the work week leading to temperatures reaching the low eighties by Thursday, which is forecast to be the warmest day of the week.

The low temperature this morning reached 34 F at the Bob Adams airport, and I had the first freezing temperature of the season at my weather station near the base of the Steamboat Ski Resort. There is really not much change in the weather for the next several days, other than some increased breezes on Monday afternoon as a weak wave currently crossing the southern British Columbia coast passes to the north of our area.

The NOAA smoke plume model has some smokiness coming and going over the next two days, with a batch of higher density smoke forecast to be over our area later Tuesday behind the departing wave, though it is not clear what will happen to that smoke on Wednesday as that is beyond the 48 hour forecast range of the model. It is run four times a day, so feel free to review the latest output to make your own predictions!

There currently is a storm brewing in the Bering Sea which is forecast to enter the Gulf of Alaska by midweek, and we may see some moisture ahead of the storm by the weekend, though weather forecast model disagreement makes that forecast uncertain. So enjoy the brilliant work week weather, and tune into my Thursday afternoon weather narrative for the weekend forecast.

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29 June 2020

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