A mix of sun and clouds through midweek

Sunday, February 11, 2024

After another three inches of snow fell at the Steamboat Ski Resort by the Sunday morning mid mountain ski report, and an additional inch and a half fell since the report, partly sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area late this morning with temperatures around twenty degrees. A mix of sun and clouds and possibly some snow showers are in the weather forecast through midweek ahead of a possible pattern change that could bring significant snows back to our area by the end of the work week.

The last storm of this storm cycle which started late last Wednesday and brought 19” to mid mountain through this morning is currently moving across the Texas Panhandle. Partly sunny skies and cool temperatures will be over our area through Monday, with the high temperature only reaching the mid twenties in town, which is over five degrees below our average of 33 F. If skies can clear before sunrise Monday, low temperatures will fall to around five degrees below our average of 7 F, with likely subzero temperatures in the favored low lying areas of the Yampa Valley.

Warm air ahead of a storm developing south of the Aleutian Islands is forecast to build a ridge of high pressure extending from the Gulf of Alaska northwards through Alaska through the work week. Temperatures will rise toward average by Tuesday and stay there through midweek as winds from the northwest bring weak waves of energy and moisture over our area from later Monday into Tuesday and again Wednesday.

We should see periods of sun between these waves, most likely this afternoon, Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon, with a chance for some snow showers centered between these periods tonight, Monday night and Wednesday. Similar to this morning, any of these showers could leave some minor accumulations.

Major uncertainty emerges by Thursday as weather forecast models agree that the southern end of the Aleutian storm forms an eddy that travels underneath the ridge of high pressure over Alaska and eventually through the Gulf of Alaska, perhaps incorporating subtropical moisture in another atmospheric river event. They also agree that a separate wave of energy and moisture ahead of the storm will travel over the ridge and move south across the interior of British Columbia.

However, there is considerable disagreement on how these pieces interact and how far south the eddy eventually crosses the West Coast. The American GFS has a quicker moving storm staying more to our north starting Thursday and ending Friday while the European ECMWF has a far more substantial and further south event not ending until Saturday.

So enjoy the seasonable start to the work week, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for a more detailed look at the weather for the long Presidents Day weekend.

Weakening storm cycle to end on Sunday

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The 7.5” of new snow at mid mountain and 10” up top at the Steamboat Ski Resort that was reported this Thursday morning has been augmented by around 3” of snow that continued to fall through the morning. We’ve had some peeks of sunshine around noon, but skies are currently overcast this mid afternoon as temperatures hover around 30 F in the town of Steamboat Springs. Snow showers will be around through Saturday as the current storm cycle slowly ends with cool temperatures and sunshine expected by Sunday.

While the storm that brought the snowfall today quickly moves across Minnesota on its way to Canada, several additional upstream storms have carved out a trough of low pressure over the West. Snow showers will continue today in the cool, moist and unstable air mass behind the departing storm leaving 3-6” for the Friday morning report, most of which will have fallen today.

A storm currently near Las Vegas is forecast to move through southern Colorado tomorrow morning, and it should be close enough to restart snow showers over our area by Friday morning. Additionally, a weaker and more disorganized storm passes through Colorado on Saturday which will keep the chance of light snow showers going through the day. I would expect 2-5” for the Saturday morning report, some of which should fall during the day Friday, and 1-4” for the Sunday morning report, most of which should fall during the day Saturday.

Additionally, there is a mass of cold air associated with a final wave currently off the coast of British Columbia. This storm is forecast to quickly move south through the Pacific Northwest early Friday, Nevada later Friday, Ariziona on Saturday and New Mexico on Sunday. While our area won’t see any moisture from this storm, we will see the cold air despite the clearing skies on Sunday, with high temperatures in town falling from the upper twenties on Friday and Saturday to the low twenties by Sunday, which is around ten degrees below our slowly rising average of 33 F.

And our low temperatures will also be on a downtrend from the low teens tonight to the high single digits on Saturday to the low single digits on Sunday. Even colder temperatures around zero or below zero are forecast for Monday morning, which is around five to ten degrees below our average of 7 F.

A ridge of high pressure is then forecast to move over the West early in the work week, but it looks to be weak and disorganized as it interacts with incoming Pacific energy and moisture. Right now, moderating temperatures and more sun than clouds are expected for next week, but be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for updates to that forecast.

Another storm cycle to start midweek after a short break

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Temperatures at our average of freezing and mostly sunny skies are over Steamboat Springs this Sunday mid afternoon behind the storm that left a two day snowfall total of 21” at mid mountain and 27” up top at the Steamboat Ski Resort. A sunny start to the work week will be followed by another long duration storm cycle that starts by midweek and continues into the weekend.

A large storm currently just off the coast of northern California that extends back southwestward toward Hawaii has incorporated an atmospheric river nicknamed the Pineapple Express, similar to our last storm, that will again bring heavy precipitation to portions of California today and Monday.

A ridge of high pressure has formed ahead of the storm over the Desert Southwest and Great Basin and will be responsible for the clear skies tonight and on Monday. Combined with the fresh snow cover and light winds, low temperatures should fall to around zero degrees in the Yampa Valley, which is around five degrees below our average of 6 F. Expect upper thirties to close to forty degrees on Monday under continued mostly sunny skies.

Meanwhile, the California storm is forecast to elongate to the southwest on Monday before moving east across Nevada and Arizona on Tuesday thanks to a cool storm moving across the Aleutian Islands that will eventually affect our area by Thursday.

Warm and moist air carried northward ahead of the California storm will raise the high temperatures for Tuesday into the low forties while also introducing clouds back into the weather forecast. This storm is then forecast to move northeastward through Colorado on Wednesday and to our northeast by Thursday.

There is a chance that showers could start as soon as Tuesday night or hold off until early Wednesday. This storm will be similar to the last one and start warm. But as the storm moves across Colorado during the day and intensifies to our northeast, winds will turn to be from our favorable northwest by Wednesday afternoon while temperatures cool thanks to the approaching Aleutian storm. Moderate to sometimes heavy snows should occur from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday, with the snowfall becoming fluffier before it tapers off early Friday.

We could see as much as 6-12” of snow at mid mountain by the Thursday morning report with continuing snows during the day and overnight possibly leading to a similar amount by Friday morning. We may see snowfall on Friday briefly stop, or not, as another cool Aleutian storm approaches our area for the weekend festivities of the 111th edition of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival.

So enjoy the break in winter weather before the snows restart on Wednesday, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see an updated snowfall forecast for Friday and how much snow we may expect for the weekend.

Snow this weekend to chase springlike weather away

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Temperatures are approaching freezing under mostly sunny skies late this Thursday morning in Steamboat Springs. Clouds from the southwest will increase through the day and mark the approach of a long duration, warm and wet winter storm which should begin accumulating snowfall by later Friday. One to two feet of snow could fall at mid mountain at the Steamboat Ski Resort between Friday and Sunday afternoons, with five to ten inches expected in town.

A ridge of high pressure currently centered over the middle of the U.S. is flanked by a storm moving across the Great Lakes and a deep trough of low pressure extending from Alaska toward the Baja Peninsula. The southern end of the trough has been reinforced by a warm wave of energy and moisture drawn from around Hawaii in an atmospheric river nicknamed the Pineapple Express, and is forecast to move through the Great Basin and Desert Southwest on Friday.

By early Saturday, the storm looks to form an eddy that moves across southern Colorado before intensifying later in the day as winds from the southeast ahead of the storm snag additional moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, some cool air and moisture are forecast to break away from the northern portion of the Gulf of Alaska trough of low pressure early Saturday and move overhead around Saturday night.

Several moving pieces add uncertainty to the snowfall forecast, though generally we will see increasing clouds through the day today as the southern storm approaches. We will see warmer overnight low temperatures in the twenties in town, well above our average of 6 F, with the high temperatures today and Friday staying around five to ten degrees above our average of 31 F.

There are chances for some snow showers on the hill during most of Friday leaving minimal accumulations, though right now the substantial snows aren’t expected to get going until late in the afternoon or early evening. Snowfall rates as high as two inches per hour at times in the several hours before and after midnight will make travel difficult over Rabbit Ears Pass as the storm intensifies, with rates then decreasing to a still impressive one half to one inch per hour and persisting through Saturday night.

Temperatures are only expected to fall into the low twenties near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort on Saturday and Sunday, with low thirties in town. Winds won’t be too bad thanks to the absence of a strong jet stream, with Saturday afternoon the windiest period with mountain top winds around 15 mph gusting to twice that.

Snowfall guesses are 6-12” for the Saturday morning mid mountain report, with an additional 4-8” falling during the day. There is uncertainty concerning how much of that northern Gulf of Alaska storm breaks away and moves overhead by later Saturday, but right now we could pick up an additional 3-6” of fluffier snow overnight for a 7-14” Sunday morning report thanks to additional cool air and winds from our favorable northwest direction.

Snowfall should taper off during the day Sunday, and if there is some clearing later overnight on Sunday, low temperatures could fall to around ten degrees in town on Monday morning. After a couple of precipitation free days to start the work week, another significant storm is currently advertised for midweek.

So enjoy our last springlike day today, and the powder days this weekend, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for details about the next winter storm just in time for the 111th edition of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival.

Springlike break in the winter weather

Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Sunday morning clouds have dissipated late this afternoon in Steamboat Springs allowing the temperature to reach 39 F under sunny skies. After another cloudy morning on Monday, expect lots of sun and temperatures warming into the forties through midweek for a taste of spring. Unsettled weather may be back in the forecast starting at the end of the work week depending on the track of an incoming warm Pacific storm.

A ridge of high pressure currently over the West is sandwiched between a vortex of cold air centered over Hudson Bay and a broad trough of low pressure centered over the Aleutian Islands that extends southward toward Hawaii.

Some energy traveling over the top of the ridge of high pressure and down its eastern side will graze our area tonight, bringing clouds and perhaps a few snowflakes to the Steamboat Ski Resort. But like today, the sun should appear by Monday afternoon and allow high temperatures to end up a few degrees warmer than today.

Mostly clear skies should bring high temperatures in the mid foties by midweek, around fifteen degrees above our average of 31 F, while the clear overnight skies will allow the low temperatures to drop to the mid teens, about ten degrees above our average of 6 F.

A storm is forecast to develop on the southern end of that Aleutian low pressure area early in the work week. Not only will this storm draw moisture from around Hawaii in an atmospheric river nicknamed the Pineapple Express, but the incoming storm will shift the ridge of high pressure toward the Northern Plains where the Hudson Bay vortex of cold air will halt its eastward progress.

Typical of an El-NiƱo weather pattern. the wet and warm Pacific storm is forecast to first bring likely heavy precipitation to the West Coast before eventually moving eastward underneath that ridge of high pressure by the end of the work week.

Weather forecast models disagree on how far south the storm will eventually move and how severely the storm splits as it it crosses the West Coast, with the American GFS bringing the storm further south across the Desert Southwest compared to the more northward biased European ECMWF.

Unfortunately for our area, if the storm ends up too far south, then it’s possible we won’t see any precipitation. However, the more northern solution from the ECMWF currently has significant precipitation starting around the end of the work week and continuing into next weekend.

So enjoy the gorgeous several days of coming springlike weather, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details on the incoming storm.

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29 May 2019

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