Latest forecast now for warm and mostly dry weekend

Thursday, May 10, 2018

While the warm and pleasant weather this work week was expected, the forecast for the weekend has changed considerably since my Sunday weather discussion. Interestingly, the storm in the Great Basin will still happen as Pacific energy drops down from the Gulf of Alaska and mixes with some cool air from western Canada, but now the storm is forecast to stay mostly west and eventually north of the Steamboat Springs area. The end result is the previous forecast for a possibly cool and wet weekend has flipped to warm and breezy with only a chance of showers for Sunday.

The further west placement of the storm means that the northwestern half of Utah will receive the bulk of the beneficial precipitation on Friday and Saturday. Some energy and moisture ejecting out of the storm in breezy southwest flow may bring some afternoon showers to our area today and Friday, but will also keep the coolest air from western Canada to our north.

As the storm drops southward into the Great Basin on Friday, the chance of showers over our area decreases on Saturday as we see drier air from the Desert Southwest. If the storm wobbles eastward on Sunday as currently forecast, we may see some cooler temperatures and the chance of showers on Mother’s Day, perhaps early in the day, as some of the moisture and energy from the storm grazes northern Colorado.

There is still quite a bit of uncertainty regarding the movement of the storm through the next work week. Weather forecast models disagree on the proximity of the storm as it moves mostly to our northwest, with the European ECMWF favoring a further north and drier solution while the American GFS keeps the threat of afternoon and early evening showers going through most of the work week.

Another significantly warmer Pacific storm is forecast to cross the West Coast midweek, and unsurprisingly there is strong disagreement between weather forecast models on whether that stays to our west for the following weekend or travels over Colorado. Again, the ECMWF advocates for the further west and drier solution as compared to the American GFS.

Pleasant work week ahead of cool and unsettled weekend

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Steamboat Springs area is currently experiencing warm and pleasant weather, and this is expected to continue for the bulk of the work week. However, this weather is no longer expected to last into next weekend as suggested in my last Thursday forecast, and instead a wet and cold weekend is looking increasingly likely.

Our current nice weather is courtesy of a ridge of high pressure over the western states. A weak and grazing Pacific storm with some trailing energy will move through the ridge later Monday and Wednesday along with some clouds, but no precipitation is expected.

But a strong storm currently north of Hawaii will move northeastward across the Pacific and make landfall in the Pacific Northwest midweek. Additionally, there is still cold air circulating around a persistent vortex over Hudson Bay, and some of this cold air may move into western Canada and mix with the Pacific storm as it moves into the Great Basin by the end of the work week.

We may feel the effects of the Pacific storm by Thursday afternoon as moisture and energy eject out ahead of the main storm and bring the possibility of showers. Right now, there is a break advertised for Friday before the Hawaiian moisture and Canadian cold combine over the Great Basin.

Details will no doubt change this coming week as weather forecast models get a better handle on the storm, but right now a strong cold front looks to move into northern Colorado around late Friday. The front will likely stall over parts of Utah and Colorado as the storm slowly makes eastward progress across the Great Basin, eventually reaching our area around Saturday.

Though the heaviest precipitation, with moderate to heavy rain at the lower elevations and snow at the higher elevations, will occur if the main part of the storm passes over our area around Saturday, the back end of the storm is forecast to elongate to the southwest as more cold air drops down from the north, keeping showery but still cold weather around for the rest of the weekend.

And I’ll say it - there is a possibility for snowflakes down to the Yampa Valley floor for Mother’s Day. The storm should depart near the end of the weekend, after which another ridge of high pressure builds over the western states and restores more seasonable spring weather to our area.

Spring returns in time for the weekend

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Well, the advertised storm sure did not disappoint, with 21” of snow shown on the Winter Park Snow Stake Cam and 19” reported at Loveland this afternoon. Steamboat’s Powdercam showed about 7.5”. The Berthoud Pass SNOTEL site reported 16” of snow containing 1.7” of water, representative of the very dense snow from this warm storm where the temperatures only got down to 28F at the Tower SNOTEL site, just north of Steamboat at 10,500′, and 27F at the Berthoud Pass site 1000′ higher.

Winter departs the area as the storm continues moving eastward and a ridge of high pressure builds over the western states. The Steamboat Springs area should see plenty of sun and warming temperatures starting Friday and lasting through the weekend , with only a slight chance of an afternoon shower.

A Pacific storm traveling through the ridge of high pressure will bring a better chance of afternoon storms on Monday that may extend into the early evening.

The western ridge rebuilds for Tuesday bringing a warm and likely sunny day as shown by the American GFS, though the European ECMWF grazes northern Colorado with some trailing energy and moisture behind the late Monday storm that may spark some afternoon storms.

The American GFS and the European ECMWF disagree on the track and timing of a couple more Pacific storms largely traveling across the northern states. Regardless, generally benign and pleasant weather is forecast for the rest of the work week, with some afternoon storms possible on the days where the Pacific storms graze our area.

More of the same is forecast for the following weekend, though a shift southward in any of the grazing Pacific storms may bring some weather into our area.

Unsettled work week ahead

Sunday, April 29, 2018

A complicated storm currently bringing precipitation to the Pacific Northwest will affect the weather in Steamboat Springs through the upcoming work week. Warm and breezy southwest winds ahead of the storm has brought dry weather and some clouds to our region today. As the storm travels into the Great Basin tonight, ejecting energy will bring some cooling and the possibility of showers by Monday afternoon and evening in continued breezy southwest flow.

The storm then elongates to the southwest as additional Pacific energy interacts with the storm, reaching southern Nevada on Tuesday. More incoming Pacific energy then moves the bulk of the storm across the Great Basin and over our area by later Wednesday and Thursday, eventually bringing beneficial rains to the Yampa Valley and accumulating snows above around 9000′ or so.

As suggested in the last forecast, the forecast storm is still evolving, lending more uncertainty than usual to the timing of specific features. Right now, Tuesday is advertised as cooler and showery, with possible thunderstorms, as moisture and energy in southwest flow is carried over our area along a somewhat stationary front.

It appears that the front is nudged northward on Wednesday, leading to a slight decrease in the showers as the best activity follows the front northward. But more Pacific energy dropping southward from the Gulf of Alaska moves the storm eastward and turns the stationary front into a cool front as it moves southward.

Precipitation should increase as the storm nears and the cool front moves southward late Wednesday, with accumulating snows above around 9000′ and snowflakes even possible in the Yampa Valley. Mountain top flow turns to our favorable northwest direction by Thursday, keeping higher elevations snow showers and low elevation rain showers going through a cool Thursday.

Though some energy from this storm is left behind near Baja, this is far enough south that its eastward progress along the Mexican border through the weekend will not affect our weather. So we should see significant warming and drying starting as early as Friday and lasting through the weekend, though there is a possibility of some afternoon showers.

Unsettled work week follows a nice weekend

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A ridge of high pressure currently over the western states will be pushed eastward by a large Pacific storm currently spinning off the West Coast. The beautiful springtime weather we are currently experiencing in Steamboat Springs will continue through the first part of Saturday as the ridge passes over our area early in the weekend and warms temperatures to above normal.

Meanwhile, the Pacific storm will make landfall in Oregon early Saturday morning. Southwest flow and some Pacific energy moving through the storm looks to combine with some Gulf of Mexico moisture that was transported northward from the recently departed storm, bringing the possibility of warm showers to our area by Saturday afternoon and evening, more numerous and stronger to our south.

Dry air in continued southwest flow will end any showers by early Sunday morning and make for a gorgeous spring day.

However, additional waves of Pacific energy will interact with the West Coast storm in a complicated and difficult to predict manner through most of the following work week.

The first of these will elongate the Great Basin storm southward early Monday before moving over Colorado later in the day and sparking afternoon and early evening showers. The second wave of Pacific energy will then act to split the Great Basin storm late Monday, with part of the storm traveling eastward over our area on Tuesday and part of it traveling southward through the Great Basin.

So the late Monday showers are forecast to continue through Monday night and Tuesday as part of the Great Basin storm moves across Colorado. Temperatures will also cool, lowering snow levels, as cool and moist northwest flow follows the storm later Tuesday, leaving snow accumulations above 9000 feet or so.

With so many moving pieces, I expect the forecast to change over the coming week, but right now a break in the precipitation is advertised for the first half of Wednesday before a separate surge of cool air from western Canada brings a cold front through northern Colorado later in the day, along with another round of showers.

Meanwhile, the southern piece of the Great Basin storm is eventually forecast to moves across Arizona and New Mexico around midweek, with precipitation from that staying to our south later Wednesday and Thursday. Though this storm could end up moving slower than forecast, it likely won’t affect our weather do to its southern trajectory, and nicer weather is currently forecast for northern Colorado for the end of the work week and the following weekend.

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