Increasing rain chances this week

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Sunday is shaping up to be a hot day in the Steamboat Springs area as temperatures are already just above 80 F this Sunday noon. Less clouds than the last few days means upper eighties for today and likely the low nineties for tomorrow before we see a good chance of showers on a cooler Tuesday as a surge in monsoonal moisture moves overhead. Shower chances for the rest of the upcoming week are entirely dependent upon the vagaries of the location of the monsoonal moisture plume, though it is likely that at least some of the days will be favored for precipitation.

A ridge of high pressure centered over the central Rockies is sandwiched between areas of low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska and the Northeast. The ridge is forecast to amplify through Monday, keeping hot temperatures of five to ten degrees above our average of 82 F for the next two days with almost no chance for precipitation. Additionally, we may see some winds out of the north or northeast this afternoon which may briefly transport some smoke from the Morgan Creek wildfire into our area, though smoke concentrations predicted by the NOAA smoke model are quite light.

But this changes on Tuesday as some energy ejects out of the Gulf of Alaska low pressure area which reduces the amplitude of the ridge and tilts it to the east. This allows the monsoonal moisture plume associated with the southerly flow on the backside of the ridge of high pressure to move over our area for increased precipitation chances and decreased temperatures closer to average. And unlike the last couple of days, the showers are more likely to produce brief periods of moderate to heavy rain as the lower atmosphere moistens.

However, weather forecast models are not in complete agreement, even among themselves, in the exact location of this monsoonal moisture plume, with the latest run of the European ECMWF backing off on precipitation chances on Tuesday. While areas to our south are more certain to receive moisture, our northern location means we are more dependent upon the vagaries of the exact plume location.

More of the same continues through the rest of the work week, with precipitation possible but hardly certain as that Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to move eastward in a couple of pieces and cross the British Columbia coast around midweek before trekking across the Canadian Plains for the weekend.

This will substantially interact with the ridge of high pressure over the central Rockies, changing the location of the monsoonal moisture plume, which may be beneficial for continued precipitation chances, or not. Interestingly, that eddy I talked about in the last weather narrative is still forecast to break away from the area of low pressure over the Northeast around Tuesday and meander westward across Texas before it is trapped under the ridge of high pressure over the central Rockies. This may or may not eventually move over our area around next weekend, with substantially increased precipitation chances if it does.

It is not unusual for an uncertain precipitation forecast during our monsoon season, but the North American Monsoon seems well established which means there are at least chances for precipitation for our area. And for what its worth, the American GFS strengthens the monsoonal signature over our area after next weekend and heading into August. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see if this monsoon signal persists and for a better idea of precipitation chances for next weekend.

Skies dry and temperatures warm through the weekend and next week

Thursday, July 15, 2021

After a sunny morning in the Steamboat Springs area, temperatures have reached just above eighty degrees this Thursday mid-afternoon with skies clouding over as approaching storms bring the chance of precipitation. Moisture will decrease and temperatures will increase through the weekend and next week with an interesting possibility of significant precipitation emerging around next weekend.

A broad and modest ridge of high pressure is currently centered over the Rockies with areas of low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska and Hudson Bay. Both areas of low pressure are forecast to deepen and elongate to the south and southwest through the weekend and most of the following work week. Winds from the southwest ahead of the Gulf of Alaska area of low pressure will bring warmer and drier air inland which is forecast to amplify the ridge of high pressure over the Rockies through midweek before nudging it to the east through the rest of the work week.

This means warming temperatures and a drying atmosphere for our area, with shower chances persisting but decreasing through Saturday. There will be enough moisture for the possibility of brief moderate to heavy rain through Saturday under the stronger storms, but there is also a chance that we will see more wind than rain as the atmosphere dries.

The comfortable temperatures below our average of 82 F these past two days will be long gone by Sunday as temperatures rise into the upper eighties with almost no chance for precipitation. And this trend continues into the work week as precipitation chances become nil and high temperatures rise further with nineties likely.

A meterologically very interesting pattern may emerge early in the work week that could bode well for significant precipitation over our area by around next weekend. Weather forecast models have the southern end of the elongating Hudson Bay area of low pressure forming an eddy that is forecast to drift under the eastward moving ridge of high pressure through the work week. The evolution of this pattern is still up for debate, but it is possible that the eddy, which will be relatively moist if it maintains its forecast trajectory across the southern states, will be caught in the clockwise circulation around the high pressure system.

Furthermore, the positioning of the ridge of high pressure to our east will direct moisture to our south northward in a classic North American monsoon pattern, and this may further moisten the eddy as it treks around the western periphery of the ridge. There are several moving pieces that may contribute to the possibility of rain over our area for next weekend, but even if we don’t see that eddy, chances for precipitation will increase solely from the monsoonal push of moisture. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I hope to have more clarity on how this interesting weather pattern may unfold.

Near average temperatures with shower chances this week

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Temperatures around eighty degrees are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon under smokey skies from the recently ignited Morgan Creek wildfire 15 miles north of town. The excessive heat observed recently will be absent this week as a series of Pacific storms bring a chance of showers to our area starting Tuesday afternoon, with Wednesday likely bringing the highest probability of precipitation for the upcoming week.

The Morgan Creek wildfire has ballooned in size from the initially estimated 5 acres Friday afternoon to almost 2000 acres. The cool front on Saturday morning likely contributed to the increase in fire size as breezy winds from the north accompanied the front. And while the temperatures cooled to around five degrees above our average of 81 F Saturday thanks to the cooler air mass, the winds from the north also transported smoke from the wildfire directly into town. The NOAA smoke plume model shows the current smoke abating by this evening before increasing again tomorrow before again decreasing by Monday evening.

The dominant ridge of high pressure responsible for the excessive heat that was over the West the last several weeks is under assault by a series of waves ejecting out of a strong storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska. The first such wave brought the cool front early Saturday while the next one will pass to our north Wednesday morning, but not before first leaving a piece of energy and moisture behind that will move over our area that afternoon.

The end result will be that today and Monday will be the warmest days of the upcoming work week with highs around five degrees or so above our average of 81 F and near nil chances for precipitation. The winds will shift to be from the north to be from the west starting Tuesday ahead of the Wednesday wave, which should help keep the wildfire smoke north of town.

The wind shift will bring some increased moisture overhead on Tuesday for a small chance of late day showers, though winds will be increasing on Tuesday and more so on Wednesday as the wave moves north of the state. While the increasing winds are bad news for the wildfire, that leftover piece of energy is forecast to move overhead later in the day Wednesday giving us the best chance of wetting rains for the upcoming week.

Precipitation chances look to decrease substantially on Thursday as some dry air behind the wave tickles our area though they are forecast to increase modestly by Friday as the dry air recedes for a day.

However, cold air from the North Pole is forecast to mix with that Gulf of Alaska storm during the second half of the work week and force it to elongate to the south off the West Coast. The increased flow from the southwest ahead of the storm will reinvigorate the ridge of high pressure over the West by the end of the work week leading to rebounding temperatures well above average and a general decrease in precipitation chances.

There is weather forecast model uncertainty for the following week as the American GFS wants to move the Gulf of Alaska storm inland and displace or deform the ridge of high pressure over the West while the European ECMWF keeps more of the storm off the West Coast. This is important for the development of the North American Monsoon as our area will depend upon that western ridge of high pressure being forced far enough east so that the southerly flow on the backside of the ridge can bring moisture to our south northward. I should have a better idea on whether this may occur in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

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.

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24 March 2018

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