Winds to slowly decrease overnight but breezes to last through the weekend

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Temperatures are in the upper thirties in Steamboat Springs and mid-teens at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under mostly sunny skies this Thursday mid-afternoon. Not that you could ride a lift to the top today, or even to mid-mountain, as most lifts were stopped and the rest slowed thanks to the very strong and gusty winds from the east. These winds will slowly decrease overnight and Friday before picking up a bit on a warmer afternoon and staying breezy for the rest of a seasonable weekend.

A strong eddy of low pressure currently located near Las Vegas is trapped underneath a ridge of high pressure centered over Vancouver. Air drawn toward the low pressure of the eddy is responsible for our easterly wind today that gusted as high as 62 mph at 7:05 am and the impressive snowfall amounts in the foothills of the Front Range in a so-called upslope event. The winners so far are Aspen Springs by Central City with 45.5” of snow as of noon and 35” of snow by Genesee, and they are not done yet!

The strong and gusty winds over our area are due to a mountain wave forming over the Divide thanks to the easterly winds being forced over the mountain barrier. Additionally, the upward propagating energy of the wave is being reflected from a critical layer aloft, where the wind speed switches from easterly to westerly. The reflected energy contributes to wave-breaking, which can be visualized as ocean waves crashing on a beach.

Winds should slowly decrease overnight and might even become calm by sunset on Friday as the eddy moves southwest toward northern Baja. High temperatures should reach right around our average of 44 F as skies clear through the morning.

But the eddy is not done with us yet as a wave of energy currently traveling over the Vancouver ridge heads toward the Northern Plains by Saturday and encourages the eddy to wobble to the northeast. Winds from the east look to pick up again Friday night as the eddy draws closer, though much less intense than today, with average wind speeds around 15-20 mph and gusts twice that possible through the weekend.

Some dry air sandwiched between the eddy and the Vancouver wave will start Saturday mostly sunny with high temperatures around average before clouds increase later in the day thanks to moisture on the northeast side of the wobbling eddy. There may even be some light showers overnight as this moisture reaches its northern extent before mostly sunny skies and continued average temperatures return on Sunday as the eddy slowly retreats to the southwest.

Forecasting the movement of an eddy underneath a ridge of high pressure is notoriously difficult due to the absence of any well-defined steering flow, and small wobbles in the position of the eddy will affect the amount of clouds and sun we see during the weekend, and beyond.

Right now, a nice start to the work week is forecast with warming temperatures reaching near fifty degrees by Tuesday. That eddy eventually does look to restart its eastward journey by midweek thanks to incoming Pacific energy, with that Pacific energy eventually bringing the chance for precipitation back to our area around the end of the work week.

So enjoy what should be a pleasant weekend, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for more details on our next chance for precipitation.

Snow to return by midweek

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Temperatures are in the upper twenties in Steamboat Springs and mid-teens near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort under clear skies late this Sunday morning. A quick-moving and weakening storm will bring increasing clouds and breezes later Monday with a chance for some light showers. A colder and stronger storm will bring good chances for significant snowfall later Tuesday through Wednesday with unsettled weather forecast for the rest of the work week.

A broad ridge of high pressure is currently over the west central U.S. and Canadian Plains while troughs of low pressure are over the Gulf of Alaska and the Great Lakes. We should see another beautiful day today with mostly sunny skies and high temperatures in town right around our average of 43 F.

Meanwhile, a splitting wave rotating out of the Gulf of Alaska trough is forecast to cross the West Coast tonight and the Great Basin during the day Monday before moving over Colorado Monday night. Winds from the southwest will allow temperatures to rise a few degrees into the mid-forties and create breezy conditions by Monday afternoon with mountain-top winds gusting to as high as 40 mph. There may be some light snow showers on the hill overnight Monday with only light accumulations possible.

There will likely be some clearing and even some sun possible Tuesday morning before another upstream wave currently over the Aleutian Islands mixes with some cold air from Alaska later today and crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Monday. Similar to Monday, expect increasing breezes and clouds Tuesday after noon as the storm approaches with showers breaking out later in the day.

There may be a rain-snow mix in town if the showers get going in the late afternoon or early evening, though the cold front associated with the storm will bring all snow overnight and Wednesday. We could see 2-5” of snow for the Wednesday morning mid-mountain ski report with another 2-5” falling during the day. High temperatures in town will fall into the mid-thirties on Wednesday with several inches of snow expected between Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

But there is some uncertainty with snowfall amounts on Wednesday and Wednesday night as the storm is forecast to split over the Great Basin by Wednesday night, with the southern end forming an eddy that drifts southward over the Desert Southwest by Thursday. We could see another 1-4” Wednesday night on the hill with unsettled weather continuing behind the storm on a similarly cool Thursday and slightly warmer Friday.

There looks to be a break in the unsettled weather later Friday into Saturday, though a grazing storm may bring the unsettled weather back to our area around mid-weekend. Be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details on the coming weekend weather.

Pleasant weekend ahead

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Temperatures are in the mid-thirties under partly sunny skies in the town of Steamboat Springs and near freezing at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort this Thursday at noon. Showers are likely during the afternoons and evenings of today and Friday, though any accumulations are expected to be minor. A pleasant weekend with mostly sunny skies and warmer temperatures looks to be followed by a weak storm early in the work week and a stronger storm around midweek.

Most of the western half of the country is located under a broad and weak trough of low pressure. Several diffuse impulses of energy and moisture are forecast to move through this trough today and Friday leading to afternoon and evening showers for both days. Accumulations look to be minor, in the 1-4” range each period, as heavier showers could leave a quick inch or two if they pass overhead. Locally, the best accumulations look to be to our north toward the Wyoming border and over the Elkhead Mountains, while regionally, the southern and central mountains of Colorado look to receive significant accumulations.

A ridge of high pressure ahead of a complex storm brewing over the Aleutian Islands is forecast to move over the Rockies this weekend thanks to the eastward movement of the storm. There is some weather forecast model disagreement on the proximity of the driest air under the ridge this weekend, with mostly sunny skies expected if the dry air is close and some clouds if the dry air is further away.

High temperatures in town are forecast to cool into the low thirties on Friday, around ten degrees below our rapidly rising average of 42 F, thanks to cooler air associated with the trough, clouds and possible showers. But we should warm to around five degrees below average on Saturday and near average on Sunday as the warm air under the ridge of high pressure settles overhead.

Enjoy the nice weekend since unsettled weather returns for the work week thanks to the approaching Aleutian storm. This storm is forecast to evolve in a complex fashion as several waves of cold air from eastern Siberia interact with the storm over the weekend. Right now, a leading piece of the storm looks to bring light showers to our area later Monday with the bulk of the storm timed for Wednesday and Thursday. So be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for more details on our next likely significant winter storm next week.

Snow possible every day this work week

Sunday, March 3, 2024

The temperature is near freezing in the town of Steamboat Springs and thirteen degrees at the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort as a snow shower passes through this Sunday mid-afternoon. Snow showers associated with this storm will continue through Monday night before they may or may not stop for a time early Tuesday as moisture lingers behind the departing storm. But the next storm starting later Wednesday keeps chances for snowfall going through Thursday and most of Friday.

A broad and deep area of low pressure currently sits over the West, and a leading wave of moisture and energy that moved overhead starting Saturday evening brought eight inches of snow at mid-mountain and nine inches up top for this Sunday morning ski report.

Unfortunately, strong winds associated with this powerful storm brought gusts as high as 75 mph at the Storm Peak Lab Saturday at 8.45 pm and 64 mph at 1:50 pm this afternoon. Even as the storm rotates to our northeast, additional waves of energy and moisture will continue moving through the storm through Monday afternoon. It looks like another windy afternoon on Monday, though less windy than the last two days, with sustained winds as high as 25 mph and gusts twice that around and after noon.

But the snow showers will continue this overnight, and including the three inches that has already fallen this afternoon in the hour between 4 pm and 5 pm (including two inches in twenty minutes for a six inch per hour snowfall rate!), I would expect 5-10” of snow to be reported on the Monday morning mid-mountain ski report. Showers should continue through the day with an additional 2-5” expected, which would be reported Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, a small storm in the form of an eddy currently located underneath a ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to move eastward and force most of the current storm to the east as well. Lingering moisture behind the departing storm will allow light snow showers to form in the afternoon and evening leaving 1-4” of snow that would be reported Wednesday morning.

The eddy is forecast to move eastward and mix with some cold air on the western side of the current storm starting Monday night and continuing through the work week. As this occurs, the eddy loses its identity and evolves into a trough of low pressure as it moves through southern California or northern Baja and eventually the Desert Southwest.

Additional cold air from the northwest is forecast to continue mixing with the former eddy, and this keeps a broad, cool and unstable air mass overhead from Wednesday through Friday. There is some weather forecast model disagreement on whether the snow showers stop for a time on Wednesday, though snow showers look likely from later Wednesday through Friday and perhaps into Saturday morning.

There is also disagreement on whether we see some accumulating snowfall from these showers, and when the best accumulations occur. Unless the weather forecast models converge on a significant snowfall event that would be reported Thursday morning and demand a Wednesday update, enjoy the lionlike start to March and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Strong winter storm to start Saturday night, preceded by high winds

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Temperatures in the town of Steamboat Springs are near freezing under brilliant blue skies this Thursday noon, on their way to around forty degrees. While we may sneak in some more sun on Friday with similar temperatures, a powerful winter storm will first bring clouds and very windy conditions on Saturday before the snows start on Saturday night and persist through the rest of the weekend, and possibly beyond.

A strong and cold storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is bringing heavy precipitation to the Pacific Northwest and is forecast to begin moving through our area by Saturday night. We may sneak in another nice day on Friday with some passing clouds, breezy winds and high temperatures in the low forties, just above our average high temperatures of 39 F.

Similar temperatures are forecast for Saturday under overcast skies, but increasingly windy conditions are forecast with mountain-top winds averaging as high as 30 mph with gusts approaching 70 mph by the afternoon that will continue into the evening.

Weather forecast models are still struggling with the mid-weekend storm, but right now it looks like the storm will move over our area in pieces, with the first piece bringing a cold front through our area Saturday night and starting the snows that will continue through the day Sunday.

We could see 5-10” of snow by the Sunday morning ski report at mid-mountain, with another 3-6” falling during the day, and half that in town. Winds will decrease on Sunday, but still remain stout from the west as the leading edge of the storm passes to our northeast. High temperatures in town will fall into the upper twenties with upper teens expected near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort.

The main part of the storm is forecast to move through our area later Monday, though the southern extent of the storm and its proximity to our area are still uncertain. There is a chance that the cold front associated with the main storm may stall near or over our area on Monday, continuing moderate to heavy snows during the day, or graze our area to the north. If it snows hard on Monday, snow showers look to taper off overnight and be followed by a very cold Tuesday morning.

The early work week weather forecast is subject to change in the coming days, so be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for updates on this powerful winter storm that may start the work week.

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18 May 2018

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