Wintry weather to return this weekend

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Temperatures are in the mid-forties in Steamboat Springs and upper-thirties near the top of the Steamboat Resort under brilliant blue skies late this Thursday morning. Warm temperatures will persist through Friday as winds increase ahead of a strong storm that will bring snow to all elevations starting Friday night and continuing through the weekend.

The ridge of high pressure responsible for our gorgeous spring weather extends from northern Mexico to the Canadian Plains and is sandwiched between two wintry storm systems over West Coast and the Northeast. This weather pattern is forecast to move eastward through the weekend due to the strong Pacific jet stream and another developing storm passing over the Aleutian Islands.

Temperatures approaching sixty degrees, almost ten degrees above our average of 51 F, are expected today under mostly sunny skies. While we will see similar temperatures on Friday, the approaching storm will have moved into the Great Basin and will affect our area with increasing winds from the south, with gusts as high as 50 mph possible during the afternoon.

The cold front associated with the storm should move through Friday night with moderate to heavy snow showers and the possibility of snow squalls, making travel difficult at times over Rabbit Ears Pass. Winds should briefly slacken late Friday night and early Saturday morning as the center of the storm passes near our area. We could see 4-8” of snow by the Saturday morning mid-mountain ski report with high temperatures in town plunging into the low thirties, almost thirty degrees colder than Friday, and high temperatures near the top of the hill near twenty degrees.

Snowfall is expected to continue on Saturday, but with increasing winds as the storm strengthens to our northeast. Wind gusts could reach 60 mph during the afternoon out of the northwest and west with another 1-4” of accumulating snowfall expected during the day.

Meanwhile, that Aleutian storm is forecast to make landfall along the Pacific Northwest coast Saturday night and move into the Desert Southwest by Monday even as the storm to our northeast moves over the Colorado-Wyoing-Nebraska border and continues to intensify. Snowfall should pick back up Saturday night or early Sunday as favorable cool and unstable moist northwest flow on the backside of the storm moves overhead with another 2-5” of accumulations possible by noon.

Temperatures are only expected to slowly warm starting Sunday as we are caught between the departing storm to our northeast and the storm moving eastward across the Desert Southwest, with some passing clouds and showers on Monday which may or may not interfere with the viewing of the partial solar eclipse over our area that will cover a maximum of 59% of the sun at 12:38 pm.

Be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have more details on the viewing conditions for the Monday noon eclipse and when we may see spring return to the Yampa Valley after the wintry weekend blast.

Gorgeous spring weather to reappear after some snow tonight and Monday

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Temperatures are in the mid-forties in Steamboat Springs and mid-twenties near the top of the Steamboat Resort with breezy winds under mostly cloudy skies late this Easter morning. The snow that should have been here by now looks to hold off until late this afternoon or early evening with modest accumulations expected on the hill by Monday morning. Another round of showery snowfall is expected for later Monday before skies clear on Tuesday and temperatures warm toward sixty degrees by the end of the work week.

SNOW WATER EQUIVALENT IN YAMPA-WHITE-LITTLE SNAKE as of 31 March 2024Before the weather forecast, north-central Colorado reached a milestone yesterday when the water stored in the Yampa-White-Little Snake basin snowpack surpassed our median peak of 21.4 inches, as shown in the accompanying graph. The blue line is the aggregate maximum, the red line is the aggregate minimum and the green line is the median over the last 30 years. The median peak is marked by the X (not formerly known as Twitter!). Note that we have reached this level a week ahead of the median peak of April 7, and we are certainly not done adding water to the snowpack.

Now, a large and complex storm currently extends from the northern Baja coast through the Great Basin and into the Canadian Plains. Additionally, a large ridge of high pressure centered over the Gulf of Alaska is directing waves of cool air and moisture from the north toward the Great Basin. The southern part of the storm to our southwest has formed an eddy and is responsible for the gusty winds from the southwest.

The eddy has moved further south than originally forecast, creating a stronger split between the northern and southern portion of the storm and delaying the arrival of cooler air from the northwest. So precipitation is now not expected to start until late this afternoon or early evening with 2-5” expected by the Monday morning mid-mountain ski report, along with subsiding winds.

Some of the cool air is forecast to move southwest across the Great Basin and drop into the backside of the eddy tonight, forcing most of it across the Desert Southwest through Monday. We should see a break in the precipitation to start Monday before brief and sometimes moderate to heavy showers reemerge by Monday afternoon and evening, leaving 1-4” of snow on the hill.

Meanwhile, another strong storm currently over the Aleutian Islands is forecast to move east and push the ridge of high pressure inland. So expect warming temperatures and mostly sunny skies to start Tuesday and last through Thursday, with high temperatures in town reaching the upper forties on Tuesday, mid-fifties on Wednesday and upper fifties on Thursday and Friday, five to ten degrees above our average of 51 F.

Meanwhile, that eastward-moving Aleutian storm is forecast to begin affecting the Pacific by midweek and elongate southward along the West Coast by Thursday. Winds from the southwest will begin increasing by later Thursday ahead of the storm with windy conditions expected on a still-warm Friday. So enjoy the upcoming gorgeous spring weather and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where it looks like I will be discussing our next round of wintry weather for the coming weekend.

Precipitation to restart tonight and continue through Easter weekend

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Temperatures are around forty degrees in Steamboat Springs and low twenties near the top of the Steamboat Resort under cloudy skies late this Thursday morning. A large and complex storm system will begin affecting our area tonight and bring periods of snow on the hill and snow turning to a rain-snow mix or even all rain in town through Easter weekend and into the following week.

A storm currently located over the Pacific Northwest has already brought as much as a foot of snow to some resorts along the West Coast. The storm is seasonably warm and is forecast to elongate along the coast through the weekend as additional energy and cool air drops into the backside of the storm.

Winds will shift to be from the southwest by this afternoon producing a nearly stationary warm front that is forecast to be over our area from tonight through Friday night. Energy and moisture ejecting out of the parent storm will travel along the front and be accompanied by snow showers starting tonight and continuing into Saturday morning.

Even though temperatures are warm and winds are from an unfavorable southwest direction, storm energy traveling over the stalled warm front should bring bands of moderate to even heavy snow showers which may be persistent. I would expect 2-5” of snow by the Friday morning ski report at mid-mountain and another 2-5” of increasingly dense snow during the day as temperatures reach the upper twenties on the hill and near forty degrees in town, which is around ten degrees below our in-town average high temperature of 49 F.

Weather forecast models agree that the warm front will lift to our north by Saturday, reducing or even eliminating showers during the day. There is some uncertainty around the precipitation Friday night though, with amounts in the 1-4” range currently possible on the hill and a rain-snow mix likely in town.

There is also a fair bit of uncertainty in the weather forecast for Saturday night as some cool air from the north skirts our area and may push the warm front back southward over our area. Right now, I would guess 2-5” of snow is possible for the Sunday morning mid-mountain ski report if that occurs.

There is a bit more certainty for Sunday, though, as the West Coast storm begins to move eastward and interacts with another push of cool air from the north during the day. The coolest air will likely not make it to our area until later Sunday, so I would expect 1-4” during the day on the hill and a rain-snow mix or even all rain in town for a soggy Easter Sunday, and possibly more substantial snow Sunday night.

Our forecast for Monday will depend upon the evolution of the storm and how much cool air from the north will be over our area, so I will defer snowfall guesses for Sunday night and Monday until my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, there is weather forecast model agreement that the main part of the storm will clear our area by Tuesday, even as a piece of the storm is left behind over the Desert Southwest, bringing warming temperatures and mostly sunny skies that are currently forecast to last through the remainder of the work week.

Cool and unsettled weather to last through midweek

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Temperatures are in the mid-thirties in the town of Steamboat Springs and low twenties near the top of the Steamboat Resort late this Sunday morning under mostly cloudy skies. A large and complex storm system will bring cool temperatures and snow showers to our area through midweek before pleasant weather returns by Thursday.

A large trough of low pressure is currently sitting over the West while a ridge of high pressure over the Yukon directs cold air from Hudson Bay southward over the Midwest and toward our area. The leading edge of the storm brought one inch of snow to the Steamboat Resort which fell by the Sunday morning ski report and an additional two inches which quickly fell by the time the lifts were turning.

A mix of sun and clouds is currently overhead, but the storm is forecast to strengthen as it interacts with a cold front currently moving through Wyoming. The front is forecast to move through our area late this afternoon and cause the leading edge of the storm to form an eddy that is forecast to slowly move across eastern Colorado tonight.

This dynamic storm has been poorly handled by the weather prediction models so far leading to a fair bit of uncertainty regarding snowfall amounts for our area. We should see winds shift from the south to the northwest and north as the front moves through later today with the best snowfall between sunset and early morning. If the storm evolves as currently forecast, we could see an additional 5-10” of snow at mid-mountain and an inch or two in town, with snowfall rates exceeding an inch per hour at times this evening at the higher elevations, which could make travel over Rabbit Ears difficult.

The trough of low pressure over the West is forecast to only slowly move eastward as additional cold air from Canada reinforces the back end of the storm. Expect cool and unsettled weather through Wednesday afternoon with snow showers of varying intensities leaving 1-4” of snow at mid-mountain by Tuesday morning and 2-5” by Wednesday morning. High temperatures in town will be relegated to the thirties, well below our average of 48 F and low temperatures near the top of the Steamboat Resort could visit the single digits.

Snow showers should taper off during the day Wednesday as a ridge of high pressure builds over the West ahead of another storm forecast to develop in the Gulf of Alaska by Wednesday. It is not yet clear how this storm will evolve, with unsettled weather possibly returning to our area for the weekend.

So enjoy what will be a wintry start to the week, considering we have a limited number of these events left in the season, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll have more clarity on our next approaching storm.

Spring weather to retreat ahead of wintry weather by Sunday

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Temperatures are in the upper thirties in Steamboat Springs and upper twenties near the top of the Steamboat Resort under sunny skies late this Thursday morning. The recent spring weather will slowly retreat through Saturday as temperatures stay warm and shower chances return ahead of wintry weather starting by Saturday night and lasting into and possibly through the following work week.

A strong wintry storm currently extends southward from the Gulf of Alaska while the ridge of high pressure responsible for our gorgeous spring weather is over most of the West. A quick-moving wave of energy and moisture ejected from the storm earlier has mixed with some cold air from western Canada and is forecast to graze northern Colorado tonight.

While Montana will see the brunt of the snowfall, we will see winds picking up ahead of the grazing disturbance this afternoon. The cool front will be too late in the day to affect the near fifty-degree high temperatures in town today, just above our average of 47 F, but will bring the possibility of rain showers in town and snow showers on the hill tonight, with minimal accumulations expected.

We should see one more day of the sun on Friday as a ridge of high pressure briefly rebuilds over our area ahead of the advancing Gulf of Alaska storm, with temperatures a few degrees below today. But clouds will invade our area later in the day thanks to increasing moisture with even a shower possible from Friday night into Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, the Gulf of Alaska storm will have crossed the West Coast and will begin incorporating some cold air from western Canada that will continue into the following work week. Clouds may decrease for a short time Saturday around noon before increasing in earnest later in the day as the leading edge of the storm approaches and showers become possible, with temperatures staying similar to Friday.

Showers should turn moderate to sometimes heavy by Saturday night on the hill with rain showers turning to a rain-snow mix in town. A strong cold front early on Sunday should turn precipitation to snow in town and keep the snow showers going through the day. High temperatures will crash into the thirties in town and near twenty degrees at the top of the hill. While the town will see only minor accumulations, I would expect 2-5” of snow at mid-mountain by the Sunday morning ski report and an additional 2-5” during the day.

Showers should decrease on Sunday night and Monday, though they may not stop as additional cold air dropping into the backside of the storm keeps moisture and instability overhead. The wintry weather looks to continue through the work week as additional periods for accumulating snowfall are advertised for Wednesday and Thursday.

Enjoy the sunny and warm weather we have left, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for more details on the wintry weather for the last week of March.

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21 May 2021

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