Snowy weather continues this workweek

Sunday, October 20, 2019

There were 3” of snow at 8 am on my deck this morning, and snow has picked up early this Sunday afternoon in Steamboat Springs with almost 5” there now. Snows should let up for a time tonight, but pick up again Monday before decreasing and migrating to the higher elevations on Tuesday. After a short break in town on Tuesday, another storm rolls in for Wednesday with more significant snowfall before this bout of winter-like weather ends as we finish out the workweek and head into the weekend.

Unfortunately the Steamboat Ski Area has not enabled their powdercam yet for the season, but the Tower SNOTEL atop Buffalo Pass at 10,500′ just north of town estimated at least 15” of snow as of noon with about half that indicated at the Rabbit Ears SNOTEL at 9400′. Snow showers will continue this afternoon before diminishing or ending for a time overnight, especially at the lower elevations. But a trailing surge of cool air will restart the snows again on Monday, so we could see another 2-4” in town by Monday night and 5-10” at the higher elevations.

While snows should end for Tuesday in town, they will continue at the higher elevations, albeit with much lighter intensity.

A secondary push of moisture, energy and cold air is forecast to cross northern Colorado early Wednesday. As temperatures cool aloft, snows will begin again overnight, especially at the higher elevations in our most favorable northwest flow. But town will not be left out and I would expect periods of moderate to heavy snow showers at all elevations during the day Wednesday before they taper off around midnight and end by Thursday morning. Significant accumulation and difficult travel conditions are again expected if the storm evolves as currently forecast, with storm totals from Tuesday night through Wednesday night in the 3-6” range in town and 6-12” range at higher elevations.

After a chilly start to Thursday with temperatures well below our 25 F average, clouds should give way to some sun, especially in the valley, as temperatures warm, though high temperatures will still stay well below our average of 57 F.

Another chilly Friday morning will yield warmer and sunnier weather that looks to persist for Saturday as a ridge of high pressure temporarily moves over the West. But the break in winter-like weather may be short-lived as a strong storm brews in the Gulf of Alaska by the end of the workweek. The storm is forecast to move eastward and mix with some very cold air from the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada as it makes landfall around Vancouver on Saturday. Weather forecast models agree that the storm will split soon after making landfall, so there is quite a bit of uncertainty with the weather forecast for the end of the weekend and early the following workweek.

Storms for Friday and Sunday

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Clouds have overspread the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday morning ahead of the first of two storms expected through the beginning of the upcoming work week. The first storm will be a weak quick-hitter with precipitation starting after midnight tonight and ending before noon on Friday. Saturday will be an in-between day before the stronger and colder storm moves in Saturday night and lingers through Tuesday.

Ahead of the first storm currently bringing precipitation to the Pacific Northwest, clouds have limited the warming seen yesterday, with noontime temperatures running a few degrees behind yesterday. Breaks in the clouds will help temperatures warm today above our average of 58 F, but they will likely not reach our high of 69 F observed yesterday.

The first storm will travel across the Great Basin today and pass through our area early Friday. While the elevations above 8000′ or so will receive several inches of snow, the upper Yampa Valley will be right on the edge of the rain-snow line. I think we will see snowflakes in town for a time in the morning, with some minor accumulations briefly possible on non-paved surfaces. But we should see some sun in the afternoon which would quickly melt any lower-elevation snow on the ground.

Saturday will be an in-between day with mostly sunny skies early giving way to increasing clouds later and high temperatures five to ten degrees below average.

Meanwhile, the second colder and stronger storm, currently near the Aleutian Islands, will race across the Gulf of Alaska on Friday and cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Saturday. This storm will be cold enough for snow down to the valley bottom, with any rain showers Saturday evening quickly changing to snow before midnight.

This will be a good winter-like storm as it strengthens after moving to our east on Sunday. It should be snowing Sunday morning with relatively light and fluffy snow, with cold, moist and windy northwest flow producing 6-12” of snow at the higher elevations and 3-6” of snow in town by the end of a wintry Sunday, with high temperatures in the thirties. While travel will almost certainly be difficult over Rabbit Ears Pass during the storm, travel difficulties may extend to the I-70 corridor as they will receive less, but likely still significant snow.

As the storm moves into the upper Midwest later Sunday and Monday, continued northwest flow will keep orographic, or terrain-driven, snow showers going even in town, with additional accumulations of 1-4” confined to the higher elevations by the end of Monday. Though snow showers will taper off in town by Monday night, the continued moist northwest flow will keep lighter snow showers going at the higher elevations on Tuesday with another 1-4” by the afternoon.

Even as a shallow ridge of high pressure moves over the West behind the storm, another incoming Pacific storm may graze our area and bring a cold front near our area on Wednesday. So there may not be much of a break behind the Tuesday storm before light snow showers start again, with minor accumulations possible at the higher elevations through Wednesday night.

A ridge of high pressure is currently advertised to build over the West behind the grazing storm yielding a dry, mostly sunny and much warmer forecast for the end of the work week and the following weekend.

Beautiful fall weather ahead of a couple of end-of-week storms

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Temperatures are recovering nicely in Steamboat Springs this Sunday after our winter-like storm this past Thursday, with sunny skies and a noontime temperature of 50 F, headed toward our average high of 60 F. Most of the work week should feature seasonable and beautiful fall weather, with a small storm forecast for Friday and a stronger and colder storm for Sunday that will likely bring another round of snow to Colorado.

We’ll see cold mornings with lows a good several degrees below our average of 27 F as the clear nights. light winds and low relative humidity allow the surface to efficiently radiate heat to space. With sunny skies expected through Thursday, high temperatures will be above average, except for Tuesday when a weak storm to our north grazes our area. Breezy westerly winds are expected later Monday in advance of the storm, and slightly cooler temperatures are expected on Tuesday after the storm passes.

A ridge of high pressure temporarily builds over the West on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of a couple of incoming Pacific storms, leading to continued sunny skies and our warmest temperatures of the week that may touch 70 F.

The first storm will begin affecting our area by later Thursday as moisture increases ahead of the storm. Ironically, clouds ahead of the storm Thursday night will keep our overnight lows warmer than they had been all week, but the cool front and likely precipitation associated with the storm will lower our high temperatures on Friday. The storm is quick-moving, with breezy westerly winds and rain showers likely during the day at lower elevations and snow showers at higher elevations.

Weather forecast models have struggled with the timing of the second storm, but currently it looks like Saturday will be an in-between day with cooler than average temperatures and continued breezy westerly winds ahead of the cold front expected Saturday night. The storm is forecast to intensify as it crosses the Rocky Mountains on Sunday, and temperatures will be cold enough for accumulating snows in town. Details will undoubtedly change by my next weather narrative on Thursday afternoon, but snowfall should turn lighter and more showery by Sunday night.

While showers look to end in the valley on Monday, moisture embedded in the brisk northwest flow behind the storm should keep higher elevation snow showers going before they taper off on Tuesday.

Fall returns after the wintry day today

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A solid six inches of snow was on my deck by this Thursday mid-morning after the snowfall started by 10 pm Wednesday night. For those counting, that’s a mere 3.5 months after our last snowfall observed in Steamboat Springs on June 23. And even though we will see plenty of sun on Friday, the frigid start to the day will make temperature recovery slow, with average temperatures not expected to return until Sunday afternoon. But gorgeous fall weather is expected for the next work week, with a more seasonable storm possible the following weekend.

Temperatures today are struggling to get above our average low temperature of 28 F as non-accumulating snow showers continue, which is over thirty degrees below our average high of 61 F and over forty degrees below yesterday’s high of 71 F! 3 day timeseries from Bob Adams Airport in Steamboat SpringsI’ve included a screenshot of these data that is available on SnowAlarm’s Home Page under Local Temperatures, Winds & Precipitation. Note that I also have timeseries for Rabbit Ears Pass, Berthoud Pass, Walton Peak, Hayden, Denver and some other places people have requested. These observations are not taken everywhere, so if you want a station to appear here, please email me and I will try and add it for you.

For tonight a trailing surge of cold air will drop low temperatures towards 0 F, with below zero likely in the low-lying areas around the Yampa River, as light snow showers continue.

Temperatures will be slow to recover on Friday with such a cold start to the day, even with sunny skies behind the departing storm, as the sun’s energy will have to melt the snow on the ground before warming the surface. Expect high temperatures around 40 F, give or take several degrees.

The clear Friday night will once again allow low temperatures to plummet Saturday morning, perhaps not as cold as Friday morning, but likely in the single digits. Again, the cold start will limit the eventual afternoon high temperature, but less snow on the ground and a warmer start to the day should allow temperatures to rise to the fifties.

The continued clear Saturday night will keep low temperatures five to ten degrees below average, but high temperatures should rise toward average by Sunday and continue through the work week, with perhaps next Tuesday being a bit cooler as a storm passes to the north of our area.

An incoming Pacific storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast around midweek, and this may move across our area the following weekend as it mixes with some cold western Canadian air. Weather forecast models roughly agree the storm could be cold enough for another round of snow, though details and timing will undoubtedly change by my next weather narrative on Sunday.

First snowfall likely for Thursday

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Brilliant sunny skies and crisp fall temperatures will continue this Sunday in Steamboat Springs behind a couple of dry cool fronts that passed though our area yesterday and early this morning. We’ll see warming temperatures and plenty of sun through at least part of Wednesday before our first winter-like storm brings sharply colder temperatures and the possibility of accumulating snow on Thursday, even in town.

An unseasonably strong and cold storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska will continue to mix with some very cold air sourced from near the North Pole as it moves toward the Pacific Northwest coast on Monday. We’ll see sunny skies through most of Wednesday as dry air stays over our area ahead of the storm, with the cool temperatures today of five to ten degrees below our average of 63 F warming to several degrees above average on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The storm is forecast to move into the Great Basin by Tuesday and across the Rocky Mountains by later Thursday. While Wednesday will start similar to the previous two days, we should see increasing clouds and breezy southwest winds by the afternoon as the storm approaches.

While the storm has always been forecast to be cold, it has trended wetter and slower in the latest weather forecast models. This adds a degree of uncertainty to the weather forecast that follows.

So as of today’s guidance, accompanying the storm will be a couple of cold fronts, with the first entering northern-central Colorado around sunset on Wednesday. This front looks to stall near our area overnight and the first half of Thursday, and will be the focus of precipitation as strong storm cells form in the very unstable atmosphere. It will cold enough for precipitation to fall as snow even in the Yampa Valley bottom, with high temperatures on Thursday expected to be twenty to twenty-five degrees below average. That’s highs in the upper thirties or lower forties!

There may even be thunder along with the snowfall, so expect locally moderate to heavy snowfall at times that might created difficult driving conditions, especially at pass level and possibly even in town. Normally the first snowfall of the season has difficulty accumulating due to the warm ground surfaces, but high snowfall rates of an inch per hour can briefly overcome that obstacle.

A secondary and colder front is forecast to pass through our area later Thursday, with temperatures falling even further and perhaps some more enhanced snowfall rates for a time. The airmass dries considerably behind the secondary front, so snowfall should turn more showery early in the evening before ending by midnight. I would expect my forecast snow amounts to change as the storm approaches, but right now there could be 3-6” in town and 6-12” at the top of Mt. Werner from this storm.

Friday will be the coldest morning since last winter if skies clear as forecast, with low temperatures fifteen or twenty degrees below our average of 28 F. So that means areas of the Yampa Valley may reach the single digits!

While the storm is east of our area on Friday, we will see warming relative to the wintry Thursday with mostly sunny skies, though temperatures will be slow to recover on Friday thanks to the very cold start to the day and the possibility of snow on the ground.

Drier air continues to infiltrate our area as temperatures warm for the weekend, with another cold morning on Saturday but temperatures warming to five to ten degrees below average during the day. Temperatures should continue to moderate for Sunday and Monday as a ridge of high pressure moves across our area.

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25 December 2020

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