Snows continue this week

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Steamboat Springs area is currently enjoying a cold and sunny morning behind yesterday’s storm. Weather highlights for the upcoming week include accumulating snows for Monday and likely Wednesday with very cold temperatures heading into and through part of New Year’s weekend.

For those lucky enough to be on the hill this past Saturday morning, temperatures dropped from 17 F at 5 am to 3 F at 11 am as a cold front moved through northern Colorado. Along with the rapidly falling temperatures, a convective cell, similar to a summertime thunderstorm, passed directly overhead around 9 am; 3.5” of snow accumulated at the top of Sunshine Peak between 8:44 am and 9:24 am, which equates to a 5” per hour snowfall rate! Accumulations were maximized by ideal temperatures in the 5 F to 12 F range which promotes the production of fluffy and low-density snowflakes that form the classic and well known branched snowflake called a dendrite. The end result of this Steamboat Magic was almost a foot on the Powdercam by noon and 15” in the favored locations.

Our next storm is currently pounding the Pacific Northwest and northern California, with the currently sunny skies giving way to clouds and then light snow showers by midnight. Ahead of a cool front that is forecast to pass through Colorado in the morning, we should see 1-4” by the Monday morning report. More Steamboat Magic may be in store for Monday morning when the front passes followed by snows becoming more showery by the afternoon as they taper off. There could be another 3-6” during the day that would be reported Tuesday morning.

The Christmas Day storm is now forecast to be slower, and only briefly forms a closed circulation over Arizona cutoff from the main jet stream on Tuesday. Snowfall will be only light, or even non-existent during the day Tuesday ahead of the storm, but heavier snows are expected by Tuesday night or early Wednesday as we’ll see more upward forcing as the storm moves over the Colorado Rockies. Additionally, snowfall may be enhanced by upward motion in the northwest quadrant behind the storm as low-level air from the eastern plains is lifted over the cold front and wraps around the storm. While significant accumulations are possible from late Tuesday night through Wednesday, the storm track and its evolution are still uncertain, and small changes can result in big snowfall differences. We could see a 6-12” from Tuesday night through Wednesday under the more favorable solutions.

In any event, a short break in the active weather is currently advertised for Thursday before another Gulf of Alaska storm mixes with some frigid air originally sourced from Siberia and the North Pole. The storm will take up residence in the Great Basin area starting Friday, bringing light snow and very cold temperatures well below our 27 F average high temperature for Friday and Saturday.

Another storm is then forecast to approach the West Coast mid-weekend, though weather forecast models disagree on the track leading to a very uncertain late-weekend forecast.

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.

Active weather pattern resumes Friday

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Enjoy the sun on this brilliant Thursday as an active weather pattern will return to the Steamboat Springs area starting later Friday. Two waves of Pacific moisture and energy will bring good snow chances Friday night into Saturday and again later Sunday into Monday before a much larger and colder storm brings Christmas Day powder to most of Colorado.

The ridge of high pressure currently over the Great Basin bringing today’s sunny weather will quickly be pushed eastward overnight by a strong Pacific jet stream. Clouds will increase Friday ahead of the first wave of Pacific energy and moisture that should start snow showers by the afternoon or evening for northern Colorado.

Snows will turn heavier on Saturday, though whether that is before or after the morning ski report is uncertain as there are discrepancies between the weather forecast models in the fast west-northwest flow. Regardless of the exact timing, snows will taper off around the afternoon, with 3-6” expected by the end of the day.

A second wave of Pacific energy and moisture quickly follows and starts snow showers again by Sunday afternoon that continue through Monday. Timing of the best snowfall is again uncertain, but another 3-6” of snow seems likely by Monday afternoon before we may see a small break currently timed for Monday night.

Meanwhile, a much stronger and colder storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday and crosses the West Coast Monday night before forming a closed circulation that moves through the Great Basin on Christmas Day. Weather forecast models usually struggle with the movement and placement of these large storms cutoff from the main jet stream, and this one is no different. Adding complexity is another Gulf of Alaska storm that is forecast to cross the West Coast around midweek, and the timing and track of this storm will affect the Christmas Day storm.

According to the American GFS, snow showers start again early Christmas morning before turning heavier at times during the day and overnight as the storm moves over Colorado. Accumulating snows look to continue in the favorable cool, moist and unstable northwest flow around Wednesday once the storm eventually moves east of our area as well.

Snow amounts from Christmas Day through Thursday morning will be dependent upon the eventual track of the storm, but significant accumulations are possible. Travel will almost certainly be impacted on Christmas Day in the mountains and possibly Wednesday on the Front Range and eastern plains.

There may be a break in the weather around Thursday before we may see effects from the second Gulf of Alaska storm. As might be expected, there is a lot of uncertainty with the evolution of this storm which will affect our weather heading into the following New Year’s weekend.

Save your soles this holiday season! You suspect that the grating and grinding sounds you hear from your ski boots as you walk across hard surfaces can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket. Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

Some snow possible Tuesday and Wednesday

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Currently this Sunday morning, a ridge of high pressure over the Intermountain West has brought dry conditions to the Steamboat Springs area, along with sunny warm days and cool nights. Incoming Pacific energy will bring a chance for light snow showers on Tuesday and a better chance Wednesday before the western ridge of high pressure rebuilds for the end of the work week.

Our first chance of some snow will occur overnight Monday into Tuesday as a storm currently bringing precipitation to the Pacific Northwest splits as it crosses the Great Basin on Monday. The storm is now forecast to split a bit less than in my last Thursday’s weather narrative, giving us a better chance of some light snow showers for Monday night and Tuesday.

There may be a small break later Tuesday, after accumulations of only as much as an inch or two, before another round of incoming Pacific moisture and energy rides over the top of a building ridge of high pressure over the West Coast. Initially, this storm looked to be shunted to our northeast, but now it looks like we should see a period of accumulating snows on Wednesday as the favorable cool and moist northwest flow is lifted over the Park Mountain Range and the Steamboat Ski Area. Snows should taper off Wednesday night, leaving 2-5” on the Thursday morning mid-mountain ski report.

That ridge of high pressure over the West Coast will move eastward over our area for Thursday and Friday as a weak storm approaches the West Coast. After a chilly start to Thursday morning, temperatures should warm, especially at the higher elevations, to close out the work week.

The weak storm is forecast to move along the Canadian border, passing mostly north of our area later Friday into Saturday, though it may be close enough to graze northern Colorado and produce some cooling and possibly snow showers.

Weather forecast models agree on a stormier pattern re-emerging around the end of next weekend and headed into Christmas week, though there is disagreement on the timing and strength of several waves of Pacific energy that will bring good snow chances to our area.

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.

Quiet weather ahead

Thursday, December 13, 2018

After the Steamboat Ski Area reported 11” at mid-mountain and 12” up top this Thursday morning, it looks like our very active winter-like pattern during the past month is going to take a break , with only weak storm systems for Saturday and Tuesday interrupting the warm and sunny weather expected for the upcoming week.

A building ridge of high pressure over the western states will keep the skies clear tonight and tomorrow, with low temperatures below zero by Friday morning over the freshly fallen snow cover giving way to a beautifully sunny day.

Well see some clouds on Saturday as a weak Pacific storm rides up and over the ridge of high pressure and grazes northern Colorado, but sunny skies and warm temperatures with highs above our 28 F average are on tap for Sunday and Monday.

Another stronger Pacific storm is forecast to cross the West Coast around Monday, but the stubborn western ridge forces the storm to split as it approaches our area on Tuesday. At this point, we may see some clouds on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday as part of what is left of the storm slowly moves across Colorado, but no precipitation for our area is expected.

The western ridge of high pressure then rebuilds for the end of the work week and heading into the following weekend for a continuation of the warm and dry weather.

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.

Small storm Tuesday followed by larger storm Wednesday

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A cool front that passed through the Steamboat Springs area early this Sunday morning has kept snow showers going, but we should see the sun make an appearance by this afternoon, especially in the Yampa Valley as dry air overspreads northern Colorado. Additional storms are lined up for Tuesday and again Wednesday into Thursday morning as Pacific moisture and energy from the Gulf of Alaska move over the west.

While the moisture will be slow to erode today, Monday should be a gorgeous day with plenty of sunshine and temperatures above our 29 F average high and 7 F average low.

Snow showers should get going again on Tuesday in advance of a weak wave that crosses the West Coast on Monday. The wave will split to some degree, though weather forecast models still disagree on the details. We could see 1-4” of snow at mid-mountain if the wave splits more, or 3-6” if the wave splits less, by the Wednesday morning report, with most of the snow falling before midnight.

Only a small break between storms is advertised as the next colder, stronger and more consolidated storm begins another round of snow showers for our area as early as Wednesday morning. Winds will increase from our favorable northwest direction, with a burst of moderate to heavy snowfall when the cold front passes around Wednesday afternoon, and continued light to moderate snowfall in the cold, moist and unstable northwest flow overnight. The storm looks quite promising but will be quick moving; I currently expect 5-10” of snow at mid-mountain by the Thursday morning report.

Any snow showers still around on a chilly Thursday morning should end by noon, followed by periods of sun, especially in the Yampa Valley, behind the departing storm.

Another break in the weather occurs around Friday, though it is not clear how long this lasts as weather forecast models disagree on the strength of another Pacific wave timed for around the weekend. The European ECMWF has trended towards a stronger storm moving over our area while the American GFS has a much weaker storm grazing our area.

Save your soles this holiday season! You suspect that the grating and grinding sounds you hear from your ski boots as you walk across hard surfaces can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket. Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

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