Snowy Saturday followed by midweek warming

Thursday, November 12, 2020

I had 4” of snow on my deck this Thursday morning, with around 9” shown on the Steamboat Powdercam. The sun is out this afternoon on a crisp late-fall day with temperatures around freezing in the Steamboat Springs area. We should see continued beautiful weather for Friday before a quick-moving winter storm brings wind and snow to our area on Saturday before tapering off late in the day. After some more snow showers later Sunday, expect warming temperatures through the work week before some sort of storm is advertised for around Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Area, which is on Saturday, 21 November.

Behold the magic of our favorable northwest flow! The storm last night had gone through a lot of forecast changes since its original mention in my weather narrative a week ago, going from a 2-5” event to a minimal event in my Sunday weather narrative to an eventual 5-10” event. Weather forecast models had a tough time with this wave embedded in the favorable, moist, cool and unstable northwest flow, not getting it right until the Wednesday morning iteration.

Our high temperatures on a mostly sunny Friday will warm towards average, which is now only 43 F and falling by around a half degree every day. A shallow wave currently in the Gulf of Alaska will approach our area later Friday, bringing increasing clouds and winds from the southwest. Light snow showers should begin around midnight on Friday night ahead of the cold front before intensifying early Saturday morning as the front moves through and swings our winds to once again be from the favorable northwest.

This quick-moving storm will bring periods of moderate to heavy snowfall from before sunrise on Saturday through the early afternoon, likely making travel difficult at pass level as the accompanying strong winds bring blowing snow and limited visibility. I would expect 6-12” on the mountain by sunset on Saturday with around half that in the Yampa Valley.

Snow showers will end for a time overnight before a much weaker wave, still in northwest flow, moves across later Sunday and generates some light snow showers, most intermittent at the lower elevations.

But this ripple in the jet stream, in still favorable northwest flow, does not look to be very productive as a ridge of high pressure begins building over the West Coast in advance of another storm developing in the Gulf of Alaska. So after a cool and showery Sunday, the snow showers will end early Monday and we should see periods of sun as temperatures moderate back towards average.

Further warming and drying is advertised for Tuesday and Wednesday with high temperatures up to ten degrees above average for a beautiful couple of days as the ridge of high pressure moves overhead. Warm temperatures will persist for the rest of the work week, though we will see some clouds as moisture is brought over our area in the southwest flow behind the ridge of high pressure and ahead of the Gulf of Alaska storm approaching the West Coast.

There is a fair bit of disagreement among the weather forecast models as to the evolution of this storm, though it appears we will see some snow for Opening Day weekend. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for a recap of the Saturday storm and more details on the storm forecast for next weekend.

Cool and unsettled start and end to the week ahead

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Temperatures in the mid-thirties are currently over Steamboat Springs early this Sunday afternoon with periods of clouds and sun. I had about a half inch of snow on my deck this morning while the recently revived Steamboat Powdercam showed about 3” of accumulations at the top of Sunshine Peak from the the first part of the blustery storm that moved through last night. A second part of the storm passes through tomorrow afternoon and evening with a bit better accumulations before we see a break later Tuesday. Another storm that is currently trending weaker passes through on Wednesday and early Thursday before another break is advertised for the end of the work week ahead of a possible weekend storm.

The jet stream has flipped to an active pattern more appropriate for mid November as chunks of cold air break away from the main circulation around the North Pole. Our temperatures have coincidentally flipped from running about ten to fifteen degrees above our average of 46 F this past week to ten degrees below average today, accompanied with some snowfall.

The storm last night was the first of two to pass through that are associated with a large region of low pressure spinning over the Great Basin. We are currently between storms, with some light and intermittent snow showers mixed with clearing skies forecast through Monday morning. But the second storm will bring a good cold front through our region Monday afternoon, with snow showers increasing around noon ahead of the front.

Showers will become moderate to heavy along and behind the front from about 3 pm to 9 pm before tapering off overnight as winds switch to be first from the southwest, to the west when the front passes, and eventually the northwest behind the front. Expect snowfall rates of an inch per hour at times which may make travel difficult over Rabbit Ears Pass. Accumulations from Sunday night through Tuesday morning should be in the 2-5”, with the higher amounts at the higher elevations.

Snow showers should end early Tuesday on a cool day as another storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska crosses the Pacific Northwest Coast and moves across the northern Rockies, grazing our area around Wednesday night. This storm has trended weaker since my last Thursday weather narrative, and now looks to bring only light snow showers confined to the higher elevations along the Wyoming border.

The switch to a more active jet stream is causing increased uncertainty in the weather forecast models, but at this point it looks like a break in the active weather is timed for later Thursday and Friday before a Pacific wave embedded in increasing northwest flow passes over our area on Saturday. Due to the north-south orientation of the Park Range and lack of high mountains to our northwest, any storms embedded within flow from the northwest are particularly favorable for precipitation in the north-central Colorado mountains. So we may be in for a round of good snowfall from about Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon if current weather model forecasts hold.

A peek at the longer-range weather forecast models shows some warming and drying early in the following work week before the active jet stream reasserts itself over our area by midweek and again around Opening Day of the Steamboat Ski Area, which is Saturday, 21 November. Of course, this forecast is subject to change, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for updates on our upcoming storms.

Wintry storm to arrive Saturday night

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Similar to the last several days, the temperature in Steamboat Springs is 63 F this Thursday afternoon, and we should see another degree or two of warming today under bluebird skies. A strong wintry storm off the Pacific Northwest coast will move inland over the weekend, bringing breezy southwest winds ahead of the storm and snow behind it by early Sunday morning. A quickly-following storm brings another round of snow on Monday with a break on Tuesday before another storm passes through on Wednesday, with more unsettled weather forecast for the following weekend.

The last two weeks of warm and mostly sunny fall weather looks to come to an end by mid-weekend as a couple of wintry storms travel across the West. We should see some effects from the first storm on Friday with breezy winds from the southwest, followed by more wind on Saturday and increasing clouds, but still mild temperatures running ten to fifteen degrees or so above our average of 48 F.

Precipitation may start as rain after midnight on Saturday, though will quickly turn to snow as the first storm passes over Colorado with its attendant cold front, perhaps with a rumble or two of thunder. While the southern areas of the state will do the best in the generally southwest to southerly flow, the storm is strong enough to bring 1-4” of snow to our area, with the higher amounts at the higher elevations.

Following quickly on the heels of this first storm is a a second storm that will affect our area on Monday, with more favorable winds first from the west and then the northwest. So we’ll see a short break between storms, with snow showers tapering off Sunday morning before possibly ending for the afternoon and part of the night. But snows pick up again Monday and become heaviest in the afternoon as the second cold front passes through and the winds turn to be from the northwest. Snow showers will become more intermittent overnight before ending by Tuesday morning, leaving an additional 2-5” of accumulation, again with the higher amounts at the higher elevations.

We’ll see a break on Tuesday before another storm with a similar track out of the northwest brings more snow starting on Wednesday. Snow showers through the day should become heaviest overnight before becoming lighter on Thursday and ending by Friday morning, with another 2-5” of accumulations possible.

While Friday and some of Saturday are currently looking dry, another storm is forecast to bring more snowfall to our area starting mid-weekend. And for what its worth, this one is looking like the best of the week for our area as more continuous snowfall lasting 36 hours or so into the following Monday is currently advertised. With our active week of predicted snowy weather, stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for updates to the forecast.

Gorgeous work week ahead of winter weather for the weekend

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Steamboat Springs area is seeing sunny skies and a temperature of 53 F early this Sunday afternoon. The current beautiful and uneventful weather is forecast to continue largely through the work week before the next wintry storm approaches our area around next weekend.

An expansive ridge of high pressure is currently centered over the West Coast between an area of storminess in the Gulf of Alaska and a cold storm over the Great Lakes. As the ridge slowly moves east, we should see temperatures this week in the fifties, above our average of 50 F, with the Monday high temperatures tickling the sixty degree mark. The only thing that will interrupt our gorgeous weather with warm sunny days and cool clear nights is an area of low pressure currently off the southern coast of California that is forecast to move over Colorado from Tuesday night through Wednesday. We should see increasing cloudiness later Tuesday and some clouds and slightly cooler temperatures on Wednesday with a minute chance of a stray shower.

Meanwhile, a chunk of cold air from the North Pole is forecast to drop into the persistent area of storminess churning away in the Gulf of Alaska and force a wintry storm across the West Coast around Friday. While there is weather forecast model agreement that the storm will be on the move, there is disagreement with the timing and evolution of the storm, with the American GFS favoring an earlier arrival by midday Saturday and the European ECMWF holding off till overnight.

Regardless of the exact timing, we should see a warm and sunny Thursday before winds substantially increase from the southwest as the storm crosses the West Coast and travels across the Great Basin sometime on Friday or early Saturday. We may see some showers break out ahead of the strong cold front expected sometime on Saturday, with cold temperatures and snow likely on Sunday.

There is weather forecast model agreement that some trailing energy and moisture will keep the wintry weather around on Monday as the snows become more showery and taper off. While Tuesday is looking mostly dry, but cool, another wintry storm is forecast to form in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday and may affect our area around midweek.

Enjoy the pleasant weather this work week as an active jet stream looks to end the mild fall weather starting this weekend. But stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for more details about our next wintry storm.

Beautiful warm and sunny weather on tap for the upcoming week

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Temperatures have finally recovered towards average late this sunny Thursday afternoon behind the wintry storm that started last Sunday and brought about 10” of snow around town and a brutally cold -10 F Tuesday morning. Other than a grazing cool front on Saturday that will bring some breezes, expect warm sunny days and cool nights for the upcoming week, with high temperatures reaching the sixties by Monday.

Currently, a shallow ridge of high pressure extending from the Mississippi River to the West Coast has built behind the wintry storm, bringing sunny skies and moderating temperatures to our area. High temperatures tomorrow will reach a bit above our average of 52 F for the first time since last Saturday under sunny skies.

A quick-moving storm now passing through the Gulf of Alaska will graze our area on Saturday, knocking temperatures back a bit while bringing some breezes first from the west and then the northwest by the afternoon.

A couple of upstream storms are forecast to mix with some very cold air from around the North Pole as they pass through the Bering Sea before merging and creating a powerful storm in the Gulf of Alaska by the end of the weekend. Ahead of that storm and behind the grazing Saturday storm, a strong ridge of high pressure is forecast to build over the West Coast and moves inland through the work week. Expect mostly sunny skies with warm temperatures from Sunday through most of the rest of the work week, reaching the sixties by Monday.

Enjoy the warm and sunny week as more wintry weather is advertised to arrive around the following weekend. The Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to be reinforced by additional waves of energy from areas further north before the storm complex makes landfall near the Pacific Northwest near the end of the work week. The timing and strength of the storm is likely to change over the upcoming week, but right now it looks like the wintry weather arrives around Sunday.

And for what its worth, this may reflect a more enduring pattern change as the air mass over the North Pole is split by ridges of high pressure that are forecast to form over both the Gulf of Alaska and the Urals in western Russia. Research has shown that this splitting may lead to winter weather outbreaks in the Northern Hemisphere, so there is hope for a strong start to the ski season, which for the Steamboat Ski Area, is a mere three weeks from Saturday. I’ll know more about this promising pattern change by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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21 May 2021

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