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Weather to become cooler and unsettled this week

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Temperatures are in the mid sixties with light breezes under mostly sunny skies early this Sunday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. High temperatures will remain in the sixties through midweek before a couple of strong storms from the Pacific Northwest bring much colder air and unsettled weather to our area as soon as Thursday.

A weak wave currently traveling over our area has brought a few clouds and breezes and about five degrees of cooling compared to our high temperature of 73 F yesterday at the Bob Adams airport, which was over fifteen degrees about the average of 56 F.  The southern end of a splitting wave currently over northern California is forecast become an eddy by Monday as it travels first south through southern California and then east across the Mexican border through midweek, which is further south than originally forecast in my last weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

While we will not see any weather from this eddy, with high temperatures on Monday similar to today, the northern part of the wave will brush our area Monday night and knock temperatures to the low sixties on Tuesday with some modestly increased breezes and a few clouds.

Concurrently, a strong and cold storm is forecast to develop and move southward along the British Columbia today and Monday before impacting Washington and Oregon by later Tuesday. Weather forecast models have struggled mightily with this wave, and the one behind it, for the last week, but are now closer to agreeing that this first wave will swing across the Great Basin on Wednesday and approach our area as soon as Thursday.

The wave currently is forecast to weaken as it grazes our area on Thursday or Friday, but might be close enough and strong enough to bring some snow to the higher elevations and rain changing to snow in town. And weather forecast models agree on more cold air and moisture behind it, though they disagree on how much of that we see during the weekend and possibly into the following work week.

So enjoy the last of the nice days in October during the first half of the work week, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll have more details on the coming storms.

Nice weather to continue through the weekend

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Temperatures are approaching the upper sixties under brilliant sunny skies this Thursday mid afternoon. This nice weather is forecast to continue through the weekend ahead of a cooler and unsettled weather pattern starting early in the following work week.

A ridge of high pressure currently sitting over the West is sandwiched between a trough of low pressure extending south from the Gulf of Alaska and another extending south from Hudson Bay through the Midwest. Warm temperatures reaching over ten degrees above our average of 58 F will persist through the weekend, with the thermometer reaching seventy degrees on Friday and Saturday. Low temperatures will be within several degrees of freezing under the warm dome of high pressure, which is over five degrees above our average of 25 F.

The Gulf of Alaska trough is forecast to shear apart as a storm currently over the Bering Sea moves eastward, with the southern end crossing the Pacific Northwest coast on Sunday. This will force a weak low pressure area currently off the coast of southern California to move underneath the ridge of high pressure and toward our area by mid weekend. The small amount of moisture associated with this should bring afternoon and evening clouds to our area on Saturday and Sunday, with a degree or two of cooling on Saturday compared to Friday and that again on Sunday compared to Saturday.

The Pacific Northwest storm is forecast to strengthen late in the weekend thanks to a wave of cold air moving southeastward from Alaska, though there is uncertainty with respect to how much cold air is incorporated into the storm and how much continues eastward.

Right now, enough cold air is forecast to be incorporated into storm to make it form an eddy over southern California by Monday before moving across the Desert Southwest on Tuesday. While the eddy will not affect our weather early in the work week, what’s left of the wave of cold air from Alaska will bring a weak cool front through our area around Monday afternoon. This starts an unsettled weather pattern promising cooling temperatures and increasing shower chances with snow likely by week’s end.

There are a lot of moving pieces that will affect our weather next week, so get out and enjoy the beautiful weekend weather and check back for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for more details on the coming unsettled weather.

Beautiful fall week ahead

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Sunny skies with temperatures in the mid forties are over the Steamboat Springs area late this Sunday morning. Continued sunny skies will allow temperatures to warm though the work week except for a dry cool front forecast to brush our area on Wednesday.

The wintry storm centered on last Thursday brought over an inch of precipitation to town with maybe a couple of inches of snow on the non paved surfaces, with over two inches of liquid water and almost a foot of snowfall at and above Rabbit Ears Pass.

Partial annular eclipse over Steamboat Springs on 14 October 2023 at 10:30 amSkies grudgingly cleared on Friday, and Saturday brought mostly sunny skies just in time for the annular eclipse Saturday morning, shown in the accompanying photo. While the spectacle was unsafe to view with the naked eye, there was no such restriction on a camera lens! Internal reflections within the lens created the artifacts apparent in the photo, with the first internal reflection showing a flipped image of the eclipsed sun and the second internal reflection showing a much fainter and properly oriented image just above.

The cold air associated with the storm will continue to modify today under continued sunny skies as a ridge of high pressure moves overhead, allowing high temperatures to reach into the upper fifties, just shy of our average of 60 F. Temperatures are headed toward the mid sixties on Monday and upper sixties on Tuesday as the ridge is forced eastward by a storm crossing the Pacific Northwest later Monday.

That storm is forecast to move across Montana on Tuesday and drag a weak and dry cool front through our area on Wednesday, with high temperatures only dropping by about five degrees into the low sixties under continued mostly sunny skies.

Another ridge of high pressure ahead of a developing storm in the Gulf of Alaska will move overhead and nudge temperatures back to the mid sixties on Thursday and to near seventy degrees on Friday to cap a beautiful work week. The nice weather currently looks to continue into and possibly through next weekend before uncertainty around the evolution of the Gulf of Alaska storm appears. Be sure to check back for details about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Wintry weather arrives tonight

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

After some sun this morning, the rain showers that started at noon are continuing this Wednesday mid afternoon in Steamboat Springs. The high temperature for the day of 61 F was reached at 11 am this morning ahead of a cold front making its way across the western slope which will drop our temperatures through the remainder of the day. Showers will continue with rain turning to snow at the higher elevations by sunset and in the valley after midnight, with significant accumulations expected at and above pass level by the time the storm winds down Thursday night. And though mostly sunny skies are forecast for the weekend starting by noon on Friday, daytime temperatures will only slowly recover through the weekend, especially with the coldest low temperatures of the season forecast for Saturday morning.

I am publishing this weather narrative a day early since the storm I discussed last Sunday has intensified, and the 3-6” on the hill I initially forecast between this afternoon and Thursday night has turned into 8-16” near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort, 6-12” on Rabbit Ears Pass. and an inch or two down in the Yampa Valley.

The culprit is a much stronger storm as far more cold air was dumped into the cyclone while it was traversing the Gulf of Alaska than initially predicted by the various weather forecast models. We have already seen the rain showers ahead of the main cold front, and those showers should continue with rain changing to snow first near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort by late this afternoon, Rabbit Ears Pass around sunset and finally the valley floor around or soon after midnight.

We should be waking up to snow at all elevations Thursday morning, with snow in town turning to a rain or rain-snow mix by the afternoon on a wet and cold day with high temperatures only reaching into the low forties, around twenty degrees below our average of 61 F. While we may only see an inch or two by Thursday noon on the non paved surfaces in town, moderate to sometimes heavy snows will continue at and above pass level through the morning and afternoon before ending by around midnight. Snowfall rates exceeding an inch per hour at times will likely make travel on Rabbit Ears Pass difficult at times through the day with visibility issues and slick roads.

Unfortunately, the Steamboat Ski Resort’s mid mountain powdercam and upper mountain powdercam are still down, so we will have to follow the accumulations on the CDOT web cams, which will also be helpful for those having to travel over the pass.

Most of the precipitation should be over by midnight Thursday, and clouds will slowly dissipate behind the storm through Friday morning with sun appearing for the afternoon. But the new air mass associated with the storm is quite cold, and after a start in the low twenties Friday morning, about five degrees below our average of 27 F, we should see high temperatures in the mid forties.

The mostly clear skies Friday night will allow low temperatures to plummet into the teens for the coldest morning of the season so far, but plenty of sun should allow high temperatures to rise into the low fifties on Saturday and upper fifties on Sunday, with near sixty degrees predicted to start the next work week.

Forecasts do not have a completely clear sky for the annular solar eclipse during Saturday morning that peaks around 10:30 am, but hopefully the mostly sunny skies allow for a good show that starts at 9:12 am and ends at 12:02 pm.

Enjoy the first snow of the season, the cool crisp fall days to follow and the eclipse Saturday morning, and be sure to check back to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss the possibility of another midweek storm.

First snow again possible at the Steamboat Ski Resort this week

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Temperatures are in the upper sixties with nary a cloud in sight early this Sunday afternoon in the Steamboat Springs area. This gorgeous weather will persist through Monday before an approaching midweek storm brings clouds on a still warm Tuesday ahead of a cold front on Wednesday. Expect precipitation along and behind the cold front to last through Thursday with accumulating snows at the Steamboat Ski Resort and even some snow possible in town.

Those readers paying attention will notice the title of this weather narrative is the same as the one from last Sunday, save for extra word ‘again’. Though the storm from last week did not cooperate, I’m giving it another shot this week as the chances for snowfall from this storm are much higher.

Our current spectacular fall weather is courtesy of a ridge of high pressure that is over the Rocky Mountains. But there are two upstream storms that will affect our weather this week; the first is in the Gulf of Alaska and the second just east of the Dateline over the Aleutian Islands.

The first storm is forecast to make landfall over the Pacific Northwest on Monday as the second moves into the Gulf of Alaska and strengthens while mixing with some cold air moving southward across Alaska. High temperatures today will be the warmest of the week and near seventy degrees, which is around five degrees above our rapidly declining average of 64 F.

The interaction between the first storm as it moves eastward on Monday and the ridge of high pressure currently overhead will weaken both, so we should see another mostly sunny day with only a degree or two of cooling.

Though we will see another warm Tuesday with another degree or two of cooling from Monday, the southern part of the first storm grazes our area for increasing clouds during the day and maybe even an isolated rain shower later in the day at the higher elevations.

The second and much stronger storm is also forecast to make landfall along the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday before affecting our weather on Wednesday and moving overhead early Thursday. Our high temperature of the day will likely occur by noon on Wednesday as colder air filters into the area and precipitation breaks out later in the day. High temperatures may make it only to the mid fifties on Wednesday and mid forties on Thursday.

And temperatures will be cold enough for some snowflakes down in town by Thursday morning, with even a dusting of snow possible on the non paved surfaces. Snowfall will be more substantial as elevation increases, with a total of 3-6” of snow possible around and above mid mountain as snow continues through the day Thursday and into the overnight. This will likely be enough snow to impact travel on Rabbit Ears Pass through the day, especially as the first snow of the season often catches even the locals off guard.

Though the storm is still changing in the weather forecast models, right now it looks like the skies slowly dry out on Friday with high temperatures around fifty degrees. And an early forecast for the partial solar annular eclipse over our area on Saturday morning, which peaks at around 10:30 am and is unsafe to look at any time with the naked eye, shows mostly sunny skies to start the day. But that forecast is uncertain as mid and high level clouds associated with a grazing storm may dampen the spectacle.

So enjoy the next several days of summery weather ahead of what might be our first taste of wintry weather by Thursday, and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon with an updated look at the weather for the Saturday solar eclipse.

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4 February 2024

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