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Unsettled weather returns after warm and dry Closing Weekend

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A powerful storm from the Gulf of Alaska has crossed the West Coast, and temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area will be much above normal today as breezy southwest flow ahead of the storm carries warm air over the Rockies. However, the storm will be deflected to our northwest and move over the northern Rockies as the western ridge flattens over the next two days. Some cooler air will be dragged over our region on Friday and Saturday, and there may be enough moisture for some clouds both days.

Behind the grazing storm early in the weekend, skies will be sunny and temperatures above normal again for Sunday as the western ridge rebuilds.

The weather will turn unsettled by Monday as a still energetic Pacific jet stream carries waves of energy over the continental U.S. There may some showers on Monday afternoon as the first relatively weak wave of many moves over our area under seasonable temperatures.

While Tuesday looks to be a warm and dry day ahead of the next Pacific wave, cold air from a persistent Hudson Bay vortex will slide southwestward toward the Gulf of Alaska at times over at least the following week, reinforcing storms originally formed in the Pacific. The fast westerly flow aloft combined with uncertainty regarding the southward and westward extent of the cold air from the Hudson Bay makes for an uncertain forecast beyond mid-next week.

While the details are uncertain, models agree that a cold storm will move over our area after midweek, with snow possible down to the valley floor.

Warm and dry for Closing Week

Monday, April 10, 2017

An easy forecast for me to make means tranquil weather over the Steamboat Springs area this week. The still active Pacific jet stream will drive a weak and dry wave across the Great Basin later Tuesday, briefly interrupting a steady warming trend already in progress and possibly bringing some clouds for later Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Concurrently, a powerful storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska and makes landfall along the West Coast around midweek. Our temperatures will rise to above normal on Thursday as breezy southwest flow ahead of the storm carries warm air over the Rockies. However, the storm will be deflected to our northwest and then move north of our area as the western ridge holds strong. Some cooler air will be dragged over our region on Friday and Saturday, and there may be enough moisture for some clouds both days, and even a stray shower Friday afternoon.

Behind the grazing storm early in the weekend, skies will be sunny and temperatures above normal again for Sunday and Monday as the western ridge rebuilds.

Next storm for later Saturday and Sunday ahead of more warm and dry

Friday, April 7, 2017

A moderate atmospheric river event is currently pounding California again and will push the western ridge responsible for the warm and dry weather over the Steamboat Springs area eastward on Saturday. Breezy winds today will increase on Saturday ahead of the precipitation which will start as soon as Saturday afternoon.

The storm will come in two main pieces, with energy ejecting ahead of the storm bringing the possibility of some thunder by Saturday afternoon in windy conditions with snow levels above 9000′ or so. Precipitation will be showery, with some showers capable of producing periods of localized moderate to heavy precipitation.

The main cold front looks to push through our area after midnight on Saturday as the parent storm travels across the Colorado - Wyoming border, dropping snow levels to the valley bottom by Sunday morning. But a promising storm has become less promising over the last few model runs as a further-north storm track and quickly eroding moisture limit the accumulations. Due to the likely variable nature of the precipitation, especially during the first part of the storm, I would guess 1-4” by Sunday morning with another 1-4” during the day as cool and unsettled weather continues in the favorable northwest flow behind the storm.

Drying and seasonable temperatures are expected for Monday. The midweek storm from the last forecast is now expected to only graze our area on Tuesday, keeping our area dry and dropping temperatures a bit.

Another western ridge builds behind the weak storm, bringing warming temperatures by Wednesday and much above normal temperatures by Thursday.

Another powerful Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to cross the West Coast around Thursday. However, the higher sun angles of Spring will bolster the western ridge, weakening the Gulf of Alaska storm as it moves eastward across the great Basin on Friday. Right now, only light and relatively warm showers are expected later Friday before the western ridge rebounds for the Closing Weekend. However, the models are struggling the interaction between Pacific energy and the western ridge, and I expect the forecast for Closing Weekend to evolve over the next week.

Cold storm for Tuesday followed by warming and drying for the work week

Monday, April 3, 2017

Another storm traveling through the Great Basin today will move across northern Arizona tonight and the Oklahoma panhandle tomorrow. As was the case with the two previous storms, most of the precipitation will stay south of the Steamboat Springs area closer to the storm. However, several surges of cold air from the north will move over our area overnight and tomorrow, increasing the chance of snow showers, especially during the day Tuesday as the cold air destabilizes the atmosphere and allows for the possibility of thunder-snow.

Snowfall amounts are likely to be highly variable as the heaviest snowfall associated with showers will be localized, especially during the day tomorrow. We may see an inch or two after midnight and another 2-4” during the rest of Tuesday before skies clear overnight and bring seasonably cold temperatures for Wednesday morning.

A sharp ridge of high pressure builds over the western states and will allow temperatures to increase to near normal by Wednesday afternoon and above normal for the rest of the work week.

A moderate atmospheric river event impinges on the California coast around Friday and pushes the western ridge eastward. Models are waffling on how quickly the moisture and energy penetrates inland, but agree that breezy to windy southwest conditions will occur ahead of the precipitation.

Right now, Saturday will be the windy day with showers starting by the afternoon and increasing overnight. There is disagreement among the models with respect to how much cold Canadian air mixes with the storm, with the European ECMWF more aggressive than the American GFS in bringing the cold air southward, resulting in a stronger and slower moving storm.

Regardless, a break in the weather is forecast for early next week before a colder and stronger storm from the Gulf of Alaska brings another chance of possibly significant snowfall around mid next week.

Storms for tomorrow and early next week

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A storm very similar to the last storm is currently centered over southern Nevada and will move east-southeast tomorrow and then along the Colorado - New Mexico border Saturday. Given the meager accumulations from the last storm and the fact that the models are showing a pronounced split in the forecast precipitation around the Steamboat Springs area, I am not optimistic we will see much more than clouds and light precipitation from the storm for most of tomorrow. There is a chance of some energy rotating around the storm later Friday and this will be our best chance of up to several inches of snow by Saturday morning at and above around 9000′.

Unsettled conditions will continue on Saturday as the storm spins to our south.

The once-promising storm for early next week has become less consolidated in recent model runs and is now forecast to bring several weak to modest waves through the Steamboat Springs area starting around Sunday afternoon. There will be a chance of snow showers as low as the valley bottom later Sunday and Sunday night as temperatures cool behind the weak cool front, and a better chance of snow later Monday and Monday night as the strongest part of the storm moves over our area.

There is still plenty of time for this early-week storm to evolve, and I won’t even venture a guess at snowfall amounts yet as there has already been a lot of variation even over the last few model runs. Snowfall guesses will have to wait until my next early-week forecast.

As much uncertainty as there is early in the week, models agree that after a seasonably cool Tuesday behind the departing storms, a strong ridge of high pressure builds over the western states bringing much above normal temperatures and dry weather through the rest of the work week.

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