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Unsettled weather ending by the weekend for a short time

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A storm currently affecting the southwestern U.S. this Thursday afternoon has also produced some intermittent snow showers over the Steamboat Springs area the past few days. These are expected to continue through tonight and into Friday morning with only an inch or two of additional snow expected before drying grudgingly occurs over northern Colorado later Friday and heading into the weekend. The sun will then return for several days before we see increasing chances for snow starting around later Tuesday.

Some cool air from the northern latitudes is forecast to brush northern Colorado early Saturday and Sunday and may combine with trapped moisture on Saturday to produce some clouds and possibly an isolated snow shower.

The moisture is forecast to be mostly gone by Sunday for a nice day before a transient ridge moves over the west early in the work week, bringing the sunniest day on Monday with notable higher-elevation warming. Temperatures in the Yampa Valley are expected to be seasonable near our average low of 7 F and average high of 30 F.

Our next weather maker is advertised for later Tuesday when a storm from the Gulf of Alaska splits as it crosses the West Coast on Monday. The forecast is uncertain as it is not clear how much energy is partitioned into the northern and southern ends of the split, but some amount of energy will cross northern Colorado starting around Tuesday afternoon and lasting through Tuesday night.

A deeper and possibly much colder trailing wave is forecast for later Wednesday into Thursday that will likely produce more snow than the preceding wave, though amounts for both systems are quite uncertain at this time. Drier and eventually warmer weather is currently forecast heading into the following weekend.

I absolutely love this super-warm split-finger mitten-glove! I’m on my second season with these and am very impressed with their durability and warmth, especially when combined with the standard HotHands handwamers. Three fingers sit together with the index finger separated, but there is enough room to scrunch all your fingers together while on the lift, which is especially nice if you have a handwarmer in the mitten-part of the glove.

Snow chances for Monday and Wednesday through Friday

Sunday, December 2, 2018

This cold and sunny Sunday morning over Steamboat Springs will yield first to clouds later today and then snow showers starting later tonight and lasting through Monday night. A break in the weather is forecast for Tuesday before unsettled weather returns Wednesday through Friday followed by warming and drying for next weekend.

A cold and deep trough of low pressure currently sits over the northern two thirds of the U.S while a ridge of high pressure lies just off the West Coast. Even though we will see plenty of sun today, high temperatures will stay well below our average high of 31 F before clouds overspread the area later today. Light snow showers should start by early Monday morning and continue through the day and overnight as energy and moisture move through the expansive low pressure area. There won’t be much moisture, but the snow will be low-density and fluffy, leaving 2-5” for the Tuesday morning report.

Meanwhile, another Pacific storm approaches the West Coast ridge and splits, with some energy riding over the top of the ridge and some diving underneath, forming a closed low pressure system that stalls off the West Coast for a few days.

The energy traveling over the top of the ridge will force the Monday snow showers out of our area with a sunny and cool day forecast for Tuesday.

By Wednesday, the northern part of the storm will have mixed with some cold air from the Canadian Plains while the southern part of the storm approaches the southern California coast. Current weather forecast model trends brings a warm front associated with the southern part of the storm over our area on Wednesday which will start snow showers that may be enhanced overnight as the northern part of the storm swings through our area.

By Thursday, the southern storm is expected to make landfall, and southwest flow ahead of the storm will continue clouds and precipitation chances over northern Colorado that continue into Friday, though the best activity will stay to our south.

Though the weather forecast models predict only several inches of snow each day between Wednesday and Friday, precipitation may be focused along the front separating the cold air to our north and the warmer air to our southwest. This may produce more precipitation at times than is currently expected for each of those days.

Warming and drying are expected to begin the following weekend and last through the early part of the next work week before a strong Pacific storm follows for more snow chances starting around midweek.

Stop battling cold feet! I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

Next storm for later Friday into Saturday followed by cold temperatures

Thursday, November 29, 2018

After the 7” reported at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Area this morning, and 8” up top, the Steamboat Springs area will see a brief break in the weather ahead of our next storm which is currently pounding the Sierras with snowfall.

The Sierra storm will move through the Great Basin on Friday, and ahead of it we will see some clearing this Thursday afternoon as relatively warm southwest flow ahead of the storm first brings some drying, followed by a slug of moisture that may produce minor snowfall accumulations around sunset and into the evening.

Though the storm is not very cold, we will see a cool front pass through northern Colorado around midday Friday which will swing the winds towards our favorable northwest direction and produce moderate snowfall rates for a time. Lighter snowfall looks to continue overnight and into Saturday before tapering off late in the day. I would expect 4-8” of snow to be reported by Saturday morning, with some Steamboat Magic occurring between report time and ski time for bonus accumulations.

This storm is pushed eastward by another storm that is currently in the Gulf of Alaska but is forecast to be entering the Great Basin early in the weekend. This one has far colder air but far less moisture, so look for a cooler and mostly dry Sunday followed by an unseasonably cold Monday morning with low temperatures ten or fifteen degrees below our 10 F average.

Yet another Pacific storm is forecast to loiter off the California coast early in the work week, and our area will be sandwiched between the cold air associated with the light northwest flow from the former Gulf of Alaska storm and the much warmer air associated with the southwest flow ahead of the new Pacific storm.

Our weather will depend on the which airmass is over our area; currently the cold air is forecast to be in place through Tuesday, with some snow showers through the day Monday, especially in the afternoon, producing several inches of fluffy low-density snowfall.

There looks to be no more accumulations during a still-cool Tuesday.

A warm front ahead of the finally-moving-eastward Pacific storm may bring some light snow showers to the central and northern mountains around Tuesday night into early Wednesday, though accumulations should be quite light for our area.

The Pacific storm is forecast to be in the vicinity of the Great Basin after midweek, and even though the heaviest accumulations look to stay south of our area, we will have a good chance of accumulating snows as this storm moves past. Timing is subject to change, but right now we could see a period of good snowfall from Thursday night through Friday night before a ridge of high pressure temporarily builds over the west for the following weekend.

Several days of sun followed by another round of unsettled weather

Sunday, November 25, 2018

A ridge of high pressure currently over the West Coast will move over the Rockies by Tuesday and bring clearing skies over the Steamboat Springs area starting this Sunday afternoon through Tuesday. The weather then turns unsettled around midweek and likely stormy near the end of the work week and into next weekend as incoming Pacific energy once again impacts the West.

The light and fluffy snow currently falling in Steamboat Springs should end this morning as drier air enters the area, bringing periods of sun by this afternoon, especially in the valley. Seasonably cool temperatures below our average high of 35 F and average low of 12 F will persist today and Monday as a couple of waves of cool dry air from the Canadian Plains slides southward along the east side of the ridge of high pressure currently to our west.

Tuesday will be likely be the nicest day of the week as the ridge of high pressure moves directly overhead. But incoming Pacific energy keeps the ridge moving eastward, and there will be an increase in clouds by Wednesday with perhaps some sparse snow showers ahead of the next storm cycle.

Several waves of Pacific energy will bring stormier weather back to the West starting around Thursday. There is considerable uncertainty in the weather forecast models with respect to the timing and strength of these waves, but current trends indicate a good chance for accumulating snows on Thursday, and after a short break, Friday into Saturday. The forecast for the early weekend storm is a bit of a wildcard, as it is not clear if the storm will move quickly through our area or move more slowly to our south, and this will greatly affect our snowfall totals.

Another storm may follow later in the weekend, according to the American GFS, or be shunted to our north, according to the European ECMWF. The cause of disagreement is related to a ridge of high pressure that is forecast to build in the Gulf of Alaska early in the weekend, and the strength and areal extent of this ridge will affect how Pacific energy is partitioned as it encounters this atmospheric obstacle. In fact, the evolution of the Friday/Saturday storm will also depend upon how this ridge develops.

Two storms on track for Thanksgiving night and Saturday

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Two storms will grace the Steamboat Springs area this Thanksgiving holiday, with the first weaker one starting light snows by this Thursday mid-afternoon and the second stronger, colder and longer-lasting storm bringing moderate to heavy snows starting Friday night.

Remarkably, the storm scenario laid out in my last Sunday forecast looks to occur, with the Saturday storm likely producing even more snow than I initially forecast! The first storm has already put down a foot of snow in the Sierras around Mammoth and Kirkwood (see the California snowfall totals here as the storm develops), and clouds will increase through the day today before we see some light snowfall by mid-afternoon. Snowfall will be moderate at times this evening, likely starting around sunset before becoming lighter again after midnight. I still expect 3-6” at mid-mountain by the Friday morning report.

Though we will be between storms on Friday, light snows will likely continue during the day, along with increasing winds that may make travel difficult, especially over the passes. We will see some warming ahead of the second storm from midday Friday through Friday evening before cooler air brings the onset of moderate to heavy snows and continued strong northwest winds starting later Friday night or very early Saturday morning. Difficult travel may well become impossible from Friday night through the day Saturday.

We could see 5-10” of mid-mountain snowfall by the Saturday morning report with continuing moderate to heavy snows for a day of full-on mid-winter storm skiing! The coldest air arrives Saturday afternoon along with a period of intense snowfall, gustier winds and likely whiteout conditions. Though moisture decreases behind the cold air, snow densities will decrease, keeping light and fluffy accumulating snows going overnight and into early Sunday morning, when another 5-10” of snow will likely be reported.

Though Sunday will start quite cold, we should see the sun reappear along with some higher elevation warming, producing a spectacular ski day (especially if new terrain opens!).

After the weekend excitement, a ridge of high pressure is forced eastward by a strong Pacific jet stream and moves over the west early in the work week. Northern Colorado will be susceptible to some dry cool fronts as energy from the Canadian Plains travels down the east side of the ridge and clips our area on Monday and early Tuesday. Wednesday will be the warmest day at higher elevations, and even though the sun will be out, cold low-elevation temperatures will persist as inversions form over the newly fallen snow blanketing the Yampa Valley.

The end of the work week looks uneventful before another storm develops off the West Coast and possibly brings another round of stormy weather to our area around the following weekend.

Stop battling cold feet! I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

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