Cooler temperatures for the weekend

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Steamboat Springs area has seen periods of sun and clouds this Thursday morning with temperatures already in the mid-eighties as of noon. Another hot day is forecast for Friday before a dry cool front brings some relief from the heat for the weekend. While the following week starts hot again, a series of Pacific waves will bring increasing clouds and cooler temperatures with chances of precipitation starting on Tuesday.

A weak and compact storm just off the Washington coast will move across the northern Intermountain region on Friday, about twelve to eighteen hours later than forecast in my last weather narrative on Sunday. While we may see some brief showers today, the later arrival of the cool front means another hot day on Friday with temperatures again around ten degrees above our average of 81 F. Unfortunately, winds will be increasing ahead of the front on Friday, especially in the afternoon, and the dry air ahead of the front means even less of a chance of showers than today.

But relief from the heat arrives on Saturday as the cool front sweeps through our region Friday night. Expect temperatures to fall much closer to average under sunny skies as dry air moves overhead for a very pleasant Saturday. The dry air sticks around for Sunday and Monday with temperatures increasing a few degrees each day.

Meanwhile, a storm churning in the Gulf of Alaska will eject several waves early and late in the work week which are forecast to carry some moisture overhead, as well as encourage moisture from the southwest to move towards our area. While the American GFS is more enthusiastic about the moisture than the European ECMWF, we should at least see some clouds starting on Tuesday that will help hold our temperatures closer to, but likely still above, average.

Shower chances increase for Wednesday through Friday as subtle waves originally ejected from the Gulf of Alaska storm move overhead. Even if we don’t get the showers, at least clouds are a good bet, so expect more of the comfortable temperatures to persist through the work week.

Weather forecast models forecast the ridge of high pressure that had been over the West to reassert itself heading into the weekend and deflect any influences from that Gulf of Alaska storm to the north. This leads to another round of hot and dry weather for the weekend following the cooler and moister work week.

Enjoy what should be a quite comfortable weekend, and I’ll have more details about the unsettled weather for the following work week in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Shower chances Monday followed by cooler temperatures later in the week

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Temperatures around eighty degrees and sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area late this Independence Day morning. We’ll see warm temperatures for most of the work week, with our best chance of showers on Monday, before some cooling is forecast to start around Friday.

A ridge of high pressure over the West is being kept in check by a series of Pacific storms moving across the northern states and southern Canada. Even so, the high temperature yesterday was five degrees above our average of 80 F with some more warming expected today. Moisture trapped under the ridge has allowed some weak afternoon storms to form the last few days, though each storm depletes the low-level moisture meaning an even less of a chance for storms today.

But that changes on Monday as a weak wave of energy and moisture currently over the northern Sierra Nevada travels over the top of the ridge and brings a good chance of afternoon and evening showers to our area on Monday. Afternoon high temperatures may be tempered by the cloud cover, though they are still expected to be above average.

Another few degrees of cooling will bring our temperatures closer to average on Tuesday behind the departing disturbance along with with a much reduced chance of showers as dry air moves overhead. While the dry air sticks around for Wednesday for near nil shower chances, temperatures rise into the mid and upper eighties again as the ridge of high pressure briefly rebuilds over the West.

A storm complex currently over the Bering Sea and extending southward to the Aleutian Islands is in the process of ejecting some energy eastward. This wave of energy is forecast to mix with an area of low pressure that forms well off the West Coast early in the work week before making landfall around midweek near Vancouver.

The wave is forecast to travel across the northern Intermountain region on Thursday and graze our area on Friday. There are several concerning issues with this wave as it relates to the ongoing, but recently quieted wildfires as winds will be increasing ahead of the wave on a still hot Thursday. And any showers that do form ahead of the wave will likely lead to dry thunderstorms with gusty and erratic outflow winds as precipitation evaporates in the dry air near the surface.

There is still a fair bit of uncertainty as to the timing of the wave, but right now it looks like a weak cool front will pass through Friday morning, along with an increase in winds. It is not clear how this will affect wildfire behavior as the increased danger from higher wind speeds will be balanced by cooler temperatures.

Some of that cooler air may stick around for part of Saturday before warm temperatures above average return for at least the second half of next weekend. But the longer range weather forecast models have that storm complex over the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands moving into the Gulf of Alaska by the weekend and ejecting a series of waves that will move near or over our area during the following work week. These will not only keep the heat from building over the West and our area but also increases precipitation chances.

But there is a lot of uncertainty as to how the eventual Gulf of Alaska storm develops, and I hope to have a better idea on what may be in store for our area for next weekend and the following work week in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Pleasant weather for the Independence Day weekend

Thursday, July 1, 2021

While this Thursday morning started sunny in Steamboat Springs, there have already been a few drops of rain around noon as showers moved around our area. We’ll see chances for a couple more rounds of showers today before the pattern repeats through the long Independence Day weekend, though with warming temperatures and reduced chances for afternoon and evening showers. Even warmer weather turns drier for the following work week.

The current weather pattern across the U.S. is dominated by a strong ridge of high pressure over the northern Rockies and an area of low pressure over the Northeast. An eddy left over from the previous weekend’s wet weather is being forced eastward by incoming Pacific energy crossing the British Columbia coast near and north of Vancouver and is currently crossing southwestern Wyoming. Expect cool temperatures around five or so degrees below our average of 79 F today and more shower chances for this afternoon and evening as the eddy moves past.

The Vancouver storm is forecast to continue moving east while also weakening and dislodging the ridge of high pressure over the northern Rockies. Light southerly winds behind the high pressure will keep the moisture over our area around for tomorrow, though shower chances will be less than today and temperatures warmer, perhaps rising towards five degrees above average.

More of the same pleasant weather is expected through the long holiday weekend with shower chances continuing to diminish and temperatures warming a bit through Sunday. However, those shower chances may increase on Monday as moisture is carried northward by the southerly flow on the backside of a rebuilding ridge of high pressure over the West.

The weather for the rest of the work week looks to warm even further as the dry air within the ridge of high pressure moves overhead and eliminates the chances of showers, with high temperatures returning to the mid and upper eighties. These warm temperatures look to stick around into the following weekend, though we may see the chance of showers return if some southerly flow develops within the ridge.

I’ll be back with another regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon, the Fourth of July, when I’ll have a better idea of the shower chances for the last day of the long holiday weekend.

Near average temperatures and afternoon storm chances this week

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Rain showers have again overspread the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon along with chilly temperatures in the mid-fifties, though the thermometer did reach 65 F around 2 pm when we had some clearing before the first round of showers arrived. Showers will continue today before their chances diminish on a warmer Monday that should see temperatures in the seventies. These temperatures will persist for most of the rest of the work week along with increased shower chances that will last through the Independence Day weekend.

The wetter weather that arrived last Thursday and the cooler weather that followed on Friday and hung around this weekend is a welcome change from the record-breaking hot and dry weather of last week. My weather station recorded over eight tenths of an inch in the last three days, and I have already received another tenth of an inch so far today, with more expected this afternoon and evening.

Currently a strong ridge of high pressure centered over the Pacific Northwest is flanked by cold areas of low pressure, with the one to our east extending from Hudson Bay all the way to the Desert Southwest. The low pressure area is forecast to split on Monday, with some of the southern part of the split forming an eddy that is forecast to spin in the Great Basin starting on Tuesday. While we will see only the slightest chance of showers on a warmer Monday with high temperatures near our average of 78 F, shower chances increase again on Tuesday as the counter-clockwise rotation of air around the eddy to our west brings moist air from the south overhead.

The location of the eddy south of the area of high pressure over the Pacific Northwest makes forecasting its location through the work week difficult since there is really nothing to force the storm to move. Additionally, more cold air flowing into the low pressure area to our east may be incorporated into the eddy and keep it in our proximity. The eddy is currently forecast to move overhead around Thursday or Friday as incoming Pacific energy weakens and moves pieces of the Pacific Northwest high pressure eastward, so expect good shower chances to continue on Wednesday ahead of the storm and increase later in the work week as the storm eventually moves overhead.

Weather forecast models have the moisture sticking around after the eddy eventually departs as light southerly winds reinforce the existing moisture and warm temperatures into the eighties for the weekend. These southerly winds may indicate the beginning of the North American monsoon, though it is not clear if the southerly flow is from an area of high pressure off the East Coast near Bermuda expanding westward or an approaching area of low pressure traveling across the Pacific.

Enjoy the coming week, which will seem like the ‘old days’, with around average temperatures and mostly sunny mornings giving way to chances for afternoon showers. And I’ll have more details on the evolution of that Great Basin eddy and the weather for the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend on my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Highest rain chances from today through Saturday

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Clouds and smoke from the Muddy Slide wildfire south of Stagecoach are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday morning. We’ll see cooler temperatures than during the past couple of weeks today as the clouds block the sun, along with a welcome chance of showers, though that looks higher on an even cooler Friday. A complicated storm system may keep the cool temperatures with a chance of showers around on Saturday and perhaps even on Sunday before drier air and warmer temperatures return to start the next work week.

Before we get to the forecast, the recent data from the long term climate weather station behind the high school has finally been published, and we broke three records for the date on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week when high temperatures of 91 F were reached on Tuesday and Wednesday and 93 F on Thursday. The State Climatologist did indicate that the station is designed for observing the long term climate, and data may not always be published in a timely fashion for a variety of reasons, but eventually it becomes available.

But the record high temperatures are gone for now as moisture has streamed northward from Mexico and is over our area. The moisture arrived in a very interesting and circuitous way; that dry cool front on Sunday was strong enough to push into Mexico and cause some strong thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday that injected substantial moisture into the atmosphere, and a low pressure area off the coast of California moved close enough to the coast yesterday so that the southerly and southwesterly winds ahead of the storm carried that Mexican moisture over our area.

Regardless how it got here, there will be the best chance of wetting rains today than we’ve had in a long time as most of what falls from the cloud will make it to the ground without evaporating in a no-longer dry lower atmosphere. But the precipitation will still be showery and hit or miss, though the chances of getting wet are higher than even. And due to energy continuing to eject out of the low pressure area overnight, there may be some precipitation tonight.

Our weather turns even more interesting tomorrow as a storm from the northern latitudes brings a cool front through our area tomorrow, perhaps as early as the morning. So chances for rain should be higher tomorrow as showers may focus along and behind the front, and temperatures will be cooler than today, likely staying below our average high of 77 F. And similar to the night before, there may be overnight showers as we head into Saturday. And in more good news as indicated by the smoke plume model on this website, the front looks to push the smoke currently over our area to the south for much improved air quality.

The last weather narrative talked about the possibility of the low pressure area off the California coast possibly merging with the northern latitude storm bringing our cool front tomorrow and the dissent among the weather forecast models about that scenario. As is often the case when models disagree, a compromise solution looks likely to occur that keeps the cool and unsettled weather around for Saturday as the storms partially merge. For those keeping score, I have to give kudos to the American GFS for latching onto the idea well ahead of the European ECMWF, even if it was too aggressive.

Some of the cooler and unsettled weather may hang around on Sunday, though to a far lesser extent than Saturday, and warmer and drier weather is forecast for the start of the work week. After that, forecasts have the high pressure over Bermuda that usually occurs around now (the Bermuda High) nosing into the southeast and areas to the west, and the clockwise flow around this feature may draw moisture from well to our south northward in a classic monsoonal pattern, though that signal is tenuous in the past few models runs and it is not clear how far north the moisture may be carried.

Let’s hope the cooler and wetter weather decreases the activity of the Muddy Slide wildfire, as well as the Sylvan wildfire south of Eagle, and stay tuned for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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29 June 2020

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