Colder snow arrives later Friday

Thursday, March 7, 2019

While a a strong and cold storm spins in the Pacific Northwest, Colorado has been under the influence of a warm and very moist airmass from storms that developed over the Pacific between Hawaii and California earlier in the week. Colder air will return our fluffy and low-density snow around Friday afternoon into Saturday morning before the heaviest snowfall ends and warmer temperatures in continued unsettled weather reappear for Sunday through midweek. Temperatures will then cool, but the unsettled weather will persist for the rest of the work week and possibly the following weekend.

After a 7” mid-mountain report and 11” at the summit of the Steamboat Ski Area this Thursday morning, with most of that falling during the day yesterday, we’ll see afternoon snow showers in the slightly cooler and unstable westerly flow that may produce several inches of snow that would be reported Friday morning.

A couple more incoming Pacific storms will mix with the Pacific Northwest storm before what is left of it moves along the U.S. - Canadian border, the first timed to arrive in the Steamboat Springs area Friday and the second mostly missing our area as it first dives southward along the California Coast before moving eastward early in the work week across the U.S. - Mexican border.

The storm arriving Friday will be preceded by snow showers in the morning and will be accompanied by a strong cold front that should bring moderate to heavy snow when it passes Friday afternoon, along with difficult travel conditions and continued light to moderate showers overnight and into Saturday morning. I would expect 6-12” for the Saturday morning report at mid-mountain, with about half that currently forecast to occur while the lifts are spinning and the other half occurring after the lifts stop.

There may be an opportunity for some Steamboat Magic Saturday morning in northwest flow, though a warming atmosphere behind the storm will allow showers to taper off through the day, with only another 1-4” expected.

Meanwhile, as the second storm develops along the California Coast, more unsettled weather along with warmer temperatures are advertised for Sunday, with only light accumulations expected.

As the storm initially is well south of northern Colorado on Monday, not much weather is expected, but by Tuesday, another incoming Pacific storm forces the storm to our south to move to the northeast, and there may be the opportunity for better precipitation as the storm grazes our area. At this point, there is a fair bit of uncertainty with respect to the proximity of the storm and the location of precipitation, but weather forecast models agree the relatively warm temperatures from Sunday will stick around for Monday and Tuesday as well.

By Wednesday, cooler weather returns as the last storm moves into the Great Basin and brings more unsettled weather that will last for the rest of the work week and possibly into next weekend. Weather forecast models try to bring a ridge of high pressure that forms over the Gulf of Alaska inland, though they they disagree on exactly how that will happen. At some point around next weekend or the following work week, we may finally see the appearance of some spring-like days.

Start your ski day with toasty warm and dry boots! I use a boot dryer/warmer after every ski day, and the Happy Feet Dry-n-Warm boot dryer would be my choice if I ever had to replace my 30 year old and no-longer-manufactured look-alike. Just insert into your ski boots at the end of the day and leave them plugged in overnight. They become only slightly warmer than your body temperature so are safe to be plugged in for all footwear for days on end, though only overnight is needed for even the soggiest of liners. The ski boots are then thoroughly dry and toasty warm to start your next ski day!

A brief break in the weather before snowfall resumes Wednesday

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The current storm is winding down in Steamboat Springs this Sunday afternoon after leaving around 2 feet of snow at mid-mountain at the Steamboat Ski Area over the last two days. Our area will see a brief respite in the winter weather on Monday and Tuesday before a couple of Pacific storms brings snowfall back to our area by midweek that could last into next weekend.

Currently, bands of snow showers are expected to hang around near our area this afternoon and evening with another 1-4” of snow possible, depending on the location and persistence of the snow bands. Cooler air will continue to filter in through the overnight this Sunday as the snowfall moves south of our area, leading to a chilly start to Monday morning, especially if the skies clear.

The sun is expected to reappear on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures return to seasonable levels on Monday with further warming on Tuesday, even after another chilly start to the day as a dry cool front passes by Monday night.

Meanwhile, our next weather-maker is spinning well off the California coast underneath a persistent ridge of high pressure located over the Gulf of Alaska. Snow showers producing relatively heavy high-density snow could start as early Tuesday night as a lobe of energy and moisture is ejected out ahead of the storm with minimal accumulations by Wednesday morning.

Showers will intensify later Wednesday and overnight as temperatures rise, with rain or a rain-snow mix possible at the lower elevations, before temperatures cool by night time. Even after the cooling, the storm is not very cold, and 5-10” of relatively dense snow is possible by Thursday morning.

Trailing energy will likely keep snow showers going through the day Thursday and overnight, leading to another 2-5” of snow for the Friday morning report.

There may be a break in the weather for a time during Friday before another strong Pacific storm barrels into the Gulf of Alaska ridge and mixes with a cold storm that develops off the Pacific Northwest coast. Though I expect the details to change, some showers are currently expected to develop by late in the day Friday before moderate to sometimes heavy snowfall starts overnight into Saturday morning with significant accumulations possible.

Save your soles! 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.

A week of snow starts tonight

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Well, I hope you enjoyed the last three days of spring-like weather in Steamboat Springs because winter returns starting tonight, with possibly a week of snowfall ahead. Light snowfall starts later today on this Wednesday and will be followed by several waves of likely heavy snowfall that will persist through next Monday. A short break is currently advertised by the weather forecast models for around Tuesday before the snow machine starts up again around midweek.

The weather pattern over the West has been dominated by a large ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska with a strong and cold storm loitering off the Pacific Northwest coast near the base of the ridge. All of the weather action has stayed north of our area these past few days, but that is going to change starting tonight as another upstream Pacific storm is shunted to the south of the ridge in the gulf. As this storm moves east toward the West Coast, it forces the Pacific Northwest storm to eject pieces of energy and moisture that will begin moving over our area starting tonight.

While this storm cycle will start small, with only 1-4” of relatively dense overnight snow expected by the Thursday morning mid-mountain report, it will ramp up by Thursday afternoon as a stronger piece of energy drags a modest cold front across our area overnight. Winds should briefly turn to be from the west-northwest as snowfall intensifies, leaving 5-10” of fluffier and less-dense snow for the Friday morning report, with an additional 1-4” of Steamboat Magic falling before noon.

Additional pieces of the original Pacific Northwest storm travel along what becomes a stationary front aligned roughly along the northern borders of Nevada, Utah and Colorado, and keeps snow showers going for the rest of Friday into early Saturday. Showers will wax and wane along the undulating front, but I would think another 1-4” during Friday afternoon and overnight are possible for a wide-ranging 2-8” guess at the Saturday morning snow report.

At this point, what is left of the Pacific Northwest storm will move just north of our area early on Saturday even as the next Pacific storm that moved underneath the Gulf of Alaska ridge races across the Great Basin and moves just south of our area by Saturday night. The combination of these two storm systems should keep moderate to heavy snows going from early Saturday though early Sunday, with 8-16” of new snow expected by the Sunday morning mid-mountain report.

But wait, there’s more! After these two storm move east of Colorado by Sunday, winds turn to our favorable northwest direction carrying moist and unstable air over the Park mountain range. Persistent light to sometimes moderate orographic, or terrain driven, snowfall is expected from Sunday through Monday afternoon or evening.

At this point, I’ll stop guessing at snowfall amounts since our snowfall will be dependent upon the location and timing of the best moisture and upward motion, and all of these things are changing with each new weather forecast model iteration. But more significant accumulations are very likely by Monday evening.

A short break is advertised for around Tuesday before another Pacific storm takes the same southern trajectory underneath the persistent Gulf of Alaska ridge and crosses the West Coast around midweek. More significant snowfall is likely for much of the West through the rest of the work week and into the following weekend.

I absolutely love this super-warm split-finger mitten-glove, and it’s perfect for the very cold week ahead! 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 before active weather resumes around midweek

Sunday, February 24, 2019

After an unseasonably cold and moderately snowy week, the sun has returned to the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday morning. A ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska has allowed a Pacific Northwest storm to form near its base, and Pacific energy and copious moisture will be carried inland this work work and bring significant precipitation to the western corridor between the I-80 and I-90 interstate highways.

After a mostly sunny day today, our area will see some sun and clouds on a seasonably warm Monday and Tuesday, along with the slight chance of some light afternoon snow showers with minimal accumulations at best, as hard-to-time waves of energy and moisture pass just north of us.

The weather turns more active around midweek as additional upstream Pacific storms encounter the Gulf of Alaska ridge of high pressure and split. After strong weather forecast model disagreement on how this pattern will evolve over the last week, it appears the American GFS caught on to the current forecast about 12 hours faster than the experimental model expected to soon take its place, and 24 hour faster than the European ECMWF.

The consensus is now that a Pacific storm will undercut the Gulf of Alaska ridge of high pressure and quickly slingshot around the Pacific Northwest storm and head inland, bringing clouds and a good chance of light to moderate snow later Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, another stronger upstream Pacific storm looks to be shunted much further south underneath the Gulf of Alaska ridge before moving towards the West Coast late in the work week. This will dislodge the Pacific Northwest storm, bringing the possibly strong but quick-moving storm to our area by later Thursday into Friday.

Even at only a half-week away, the details are still uncertain, but right now I would guess snows get started by Wednesday afternoon or evening in generally westerly flow, leaving 3-6” of relatively dense snow by Thursday morning, Snows will diminish, but likely not stop during the day before the much stronger storm starts moderate to heavy snows by Thursday afternoon or evening, bringing 6-12” of fluffy low-density powder by Friday morning.

Winds will turn from the west during the beginning of the storm to the northwest by the end of the storm with another blast of unseasonably cold air, and I expect some Steamboat Magic Friday morning before snows eventually taper off by the end of the day. Another 2-5” of snow will fall during the day that would be reported on a cold Saturday morning report.

A short break is advertised for Saturday before the storm from under the Gulf of Alaska ridge is forecast to cross the West Coast early in the weekend and battle the cold air from the northern latitudes as it moves piecemeal across the Great Basin. Though I expect changes in the forecast, a stormy weather pattern may restart on Sunday and last into the beginning of the next work week.

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.

Warming temperatures for the upcoming week

Thursday, February 21, 2019

A large, cold and slow-moving storm currently over Nevada will cross the Great Basin over the next day and bring heavy snowfall to the Desert Southwest and southern Colorado. North-central Colorado, including the Steamboat Springs area, has seen warming temperatures this Thursday morning in advance of the storm, with the Storm Peak Lab at the top of Mt. Werner reporting 21 F at 11:20 MST, around twenty degrees warmer than the temperatures the last two days.

We will see a chance of light snow showers this afternoon and evening as moisture moves over our area in unstable southwest flow with little accumulation. Snow showers should pick up during the day Friday as the storm approaches the Continental Divide and eventually brings some weak but moist and unstable northwest flow to northern Colorado. Snowfall amounts for our area will be light as the the bulk of the snows will be to our south, but we could see 1-4” by Friday evening before showers taper off and end for another quite cold start to Saturday.

A trailing wave from the northwest brings another surge of cold air along with a chance of snow showers for Saturday afternoon and evening that will bring only light accumulations at best by another cold Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, a rebuilding ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska will be undercut by a strong Pacific jet stream early in the work week, and this will allow warmer air to cross the West Coast and penetrate inland. Additionally, some upstream Pacific energy is forecast to be diverted southward and form a strong storm well off the West Coast underneath the Gulf of Alaska ridge. This combination of westerly and southwesterly flow impinging on the West Coast will force the jet stream just to our north early in the work week, with the best precipitation likely to occur between the I-80 and I-90 interstate highways.

There is weather forecast model disagreement as to the strength and evolution of the storm underneath the Gulf of Alaska ridge, and this will affect whether a transient ridge of high pressure builds over the Great Basin around midweek. A stronger ridge of high pressure would keep precipitation to our north through the end of the work week, while a weaker ridge will allow for light to possibly moderate snow showers. For what it’s worth, as of this morning, models were trending towards the warmer and drier solution.

Regardless, the weather forecast models seem to agree that the storm under the Gulf of Alaska ridge will be forced inland sometime around next weekend, restarting this winter’s stormy weather pattern as we head into March.

Start your ski day with toasty warm and dry boots! I use a boot dryer/warmer after every ski day, and the Happy Feet Dry-n-Warm boot dryer would be my choice if I ever had to replace my 30 year old and no-longer-manufactured look-alike. Just insert into your ski boots at the end of the day and leave them plugged in overnight. They become only slightly warmer than your body temperature so are safe to be plugged in for all footwear for days on end, though only overnight is needed for even the soggiest of liners. The ski boots are then thoroughly dry and toasty warm to start your next ski day!

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30 April 2022

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