Mostly seasonable weather for the week ahead except for possible snow on Thursday and Friday

Sunday, April 19, 2020

After a couple of tenths of an inch precipitation fell yesterday, with rain in town and a couple of inches of snow at the top of Mt. Werner, Steamboat Springs is seeing some sun and more normal temperatures early this Sunday afternoon. We’ll see seasonable weather for the first half of this work week with chances of showers this afternoon and evening and again later Tuesday ahead of a cold storm for Thursday and Friday that brings snow chances back to the Yampa Valley.

The current seasonable weather is expected through midweek, with the possibility of rain showers at lower elevations and snow showers at higher elevations later this afternoon and evening, along with a rumble of thunder, and again later Tuesday thanks to a couple of waves of Pacific energy and moisture traveling over and through a ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska. High temperatures should be around our average high of 55 F.

Around midweek, another couple of Pacific waves of energy and moisture traveling over that now weakening ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska are forecast to briefly mix with some cold air originally from the North Pole and bring the chance of snow back to our area for Thursday and Friday. There is uncertainty with the strength of the storm, though modest amounts of 4-8” up top and several inches in town are possible between Thursday morning and Friday night before the storm passes.

A ridge of high pressure tries to build over the West for the weekend for near average temepratures and what is currently looking like a precipitation-free Saturday, though more upstream Pacific energy will bring a small chance of some showers for Sunday and Monday.

A peek at the longer range weather forecast models shows a more substantial ridge of high pressure building over the West for the following work week. If this were to come to pass, we’ll see beautiful warm and sunny spring weather with temperatures likely approaching or even reaching the vaunted seventy degree mark for the first time this year.

Warmer but still unsettled weather on tap for the upcoming week

Thursday, April 16, 2020

It’s still snowing in Steamboat Springs early this Thursday afternoon, with a storm total since Tuesday night of about 10” in town and 12” up top as of 11 am this morning. Snows should become more showery and end this evening with warmer weather in our future for the upcoming week. However, after a day and a half of dry weather starting tomorrow, April showers will occur for the rest of the upcoming week, possibly punctuated with another cold storm for the end of the work week.

The oft cliched ‘Spring in the Rockies’ will be on full display for the upcoming week, as we transition from the cold and wet winter weather these last two days to sunny and warmer for Friday and part of Saturday to warm and showery for most of the upcoming week.

Our current snowfall is courtesy of the interaction between a cold front associated with a slow moving storm and the overhead jet stream. Snows were really going at times last night when snowfall rates reached 4.5” per hour for twenty minutes as 1.5” of snow was observed to have fallen on the Powdercam between 1:20 am and 1:40 am!

Showers will diminish this afternoon and evening before ending by midnight, though pay attention to the timestamp below the picture when viewing the snow stake at the top of Sunshine Peak as my last updated image is currently from 11 am this morning.

Skies should clear on Friday with a chilly start to the day as the fresh snow cover and light winds conspire with the clear skies to allow lots of surface heat to escape to space overnight. The cold air mass will hinder the warm-up on Friday and Saturday with high temperatures ten to fifteen degrees below our average high of 53 F on Friday and five to ten degrees below our average on Saturday.

Temperatures will continues to warm for Sunday and be around average for the rest of the work week as waves of Pacific energy and moisture undercut a ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska and stream over our area. This will bring the proverbial April showers to our area starting as soon as Saturday afternoon and lasting through most of the next work week. Weather forecast models do have different ideas on the timing and strength of these waves, though it appears the strongest in this series should be around Tuesday afternoon.

Though it is a week out, there is a possibility of another cool storm near the work week’s end as one of these waves of Pacific energy and moisture may be far enough north to mix with some cold air from western Canada. I hope to have a better idea of whether we will see snow in the Yampa Valley from this storm by my next weather narrative scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Wintry weather week ahead

Sunday, April 12, 2020

It would have been a Closing Day powder day at the Steamboat Ski Resort this Sunday as 6.5” of snow was at the top in time for the morning report. And we are up to 10” on the Powdercam as of 1 pm Sunday afternoon as showers continue behind last night’s cold front in the favorable cold, moist and unstable northwest flow. Winter weather is expected to last through most of the work week, punctuated with another significant storm for Thursday, before temperatures warm and skies clear heading into next weekend.

While a ridge of high pressure currently sits off the West Coast, a very cold air mass is centered over the southern Canadian Plains, and some of this cold air was brought over our area by the cold front last night. Our high temperature this Sunday of 36 F at the Bob Adams airport was likely reached at midnight last night as our afternoon temperatures show little inclination to rise much above freezing, though the sun peaking out in the valley may change that. Additional snow showers, especially at the higher elevations, will continue overnight and through Monday, with another 2-5” expected up top by Monday afternoon.

Another colder but much drier push of cold air is then forecast for Monday night. While no additional accumulations are expected, we could see low temperatures Tuesday morning at the top of Mt. Werner below zero and Yampa Valley temperature as low as the single digits, well below our valley average low of 25 F. But it looks like the sun will make an appearance for the first half of Tuesday before disappearing until Friday.

A Pacific wave currently in the Gulf of Alaska and rounding the top of the ridge of high pressure off the West Coast is forecast to move over our area Wednesday night in favorable and cool northwest flow. Snow showers could begin as early as Tuesday night ahead of the storm and become more intense and more numerous through the day Wednesday. Moderate to sometimes heavy snows are expected by Wednesday night, making any travel difficult, and 6-12” of snow is possible at the top of the hill by Thursday morning, with several inches possible in town. Trailing energy is expected to keep snow showers going during the day Thursday with another 3-6” of snow possible up top.

Meanwhile, incoming Pacific energy is forecast to take a route through rather than over the ridge of high pressure off the West Coast. This will allow the West Coast ridge to expand inland and displace the cold air over our region to the east. Much warmer and drier weather is currently forecast for Friday and at least part of Saturday before that Pacific energy approaches our area by mid-weekend. There is weather model disagreement on the speed and track of waves of Pacific energy traveling through the ridge, but warmer and possibly still unsettled weather is forecast starting mid-weekend and lasting into the next work week.

Cold storm for Easter Sunday

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Steamboat Springs area has cracked the vaunted sixty degree mark for the first time this year, with the Bob Adams airport currently showing a Thursday mid-afternoon temperature of 64 F. A storm to our southwest will approach our area beginning tonight with little affect on our weather ahead of a strong and cold storm starting later Saturday. The cool and showery weather looks to hang around for the following work week.

Currently, a storm cut off from the jet stream is spinning over southern California. Additionally, a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska has mixed with some very cold air from the North Pole, and this storm is forecast to move to the southeast towards our area as a ridge of high pressure builds over the Gulf of Alaska behind the storm.

The California storm is forecast to travel along the southern U.S. border through the weekend. Not much weather is expected from this storm as it stays to our south, though we’ll see some clouds tonight and perhaps a bit of snow at the highest elevations as moisture is drawn northward ahead of the storm.

Friday should be nice, with possibly some afternoon clouds, with high temperatures decreasing to only around five degrees above our average of 51 F.

Though there should be some sun early Saturday, clouds will increase through the day with showers beginning in the afternoon. A strong cold front associated with storm is forecast to blast through north-central Colorado Saturday night, with snow becoming moderate to heavy at times and creating difficult travel, not that there is much of that these days.

We should see 3-6” of snow on the Powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak by Sunday morning, with snow even down to the Yampa Valley floor. Snow showers will continue through the day Sunday in the cold, moist, unstable and favorable northwest flow behind the front, with another 2-5” expected up top. High temperatures on Sunday will be thirty or so degrees below what we are observing today, bringing back winter for Easter Sunday and what should have been our Closing Day celebration.

The weather looks to remain cold and unsettled through much of the work week as waves of energy and moisture travel around the ridge of high pressure in the Gulf of Alaska. Weather forecast models disagree on the timing and strength of the waves, starting as soon as Monday night, but it appears a moderate storm, or perhaps two, may bring another round of accumulating snows to our starting around midweek.

Lots of uncertainty heading into the following weekend as weather forecast models disagree on the expansion of the ridge of high pressure inland as well as the fate of additional Pacific energy and moisture interacting with the ridge. A broader ridge positioned further to the east will allow for warming and drying over our area, otherwise more cool and unsettled weather is likely.

Sunny and warm work week ahead of unsettled weekend

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Warm temperatures in the low fifties and mostly cloudy skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. We’ll see sunnier and warmer weather through midweek before precipitation chances increase later Thursday and through the weekend.

Currently, a strong storm just off the northern California coast has become an eddy that is forecast to slowly sink along the California coast through midweek. The clouds over our area today are a result of a small batch of energy and moisture ahead of the storm, but the clouds are forecast to be replaced with sunny skies and temperatures five to ten degrees above our average of 49 F through midweek.

The storm is forecast to turn eastward by Wednesday and travel across the Desert Southwest through the end of the work week. Weather forecast models usually struggle with the speed and track of these eddies as they are cut off from the strong steering flow of the jet stream, and this storm is no exception.

While the bulk of the precipitation will fall to our south, there is a chance of perhaps significant precipitation from later Thursday through at least part of Friday according to at least one of the weather models. Regardless of the amount of precipitation, snow levels are likely to be relatively high thanks to the several days the storm will have spent warming in the lower latitudes, and storm specifics will have to wait until my next scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build in the Gulf of Alaska by the work week’s end, and this forces several waves of Pacific energy to ride over this ridge and mix with some cold air from the north. The first wave passes over our area around Friday night into Saturday and the second approaches our area by the end of the weekend.

So we will transition from the warm southwesterly flow for most of the work week to cooler northwest flow for the weekend. Again there are weather forecast model differences with the track and available moisture of these northwest storms, but cooler and unsettled weather is forecast for the following weekend.

For what its worth, and even though I expect the forecast to change over the coming days, the European ECMWF has the first northwest wave bringing significant snow to our area heading into the weekend while the American GFS is much weaker. But the GFS brings a significant snowstorm to our area early in the following work week with the second wave while the European ECMWF initially keeps that storm to our west.

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24 March 2018

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