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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.

Winter blast for Thursday

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The weather in Steamboat Springs this Wednesday noon is warm and mostly sunny ahead of a quick-moving and cold winter storm for Thursday. After that, moderating temperatures and some chances for showers are in our weather future for the upcoming week.

A large storm currently over northwestern North America is bringing cold temperatures and snow to the northwestern quarter of the U.S, and we should see breezy southwesterly winds and increasing clouds this afternoon ahead of the storm, with a chance for some light showers.

A strong cold front is forecast to move through our area around noon on Thursday, with periods of moderate to heavy snow along and behind the front. I would expect 3-6” of snow on the Powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak by sunset with an additional 1-4” during the evening and overnight as showers taper off in the favorable and cold northwest flow behind the front.

Though Friday will start chilly with some snow likely on the ground in the Yampa Valley, drier air behind the storm should allow for sun during the day, though temperatures will still stay ten to fifteen degrees below our average high of 49 F.

The uncertainty regarding the weather for Saturday has fortunately decreased with the American GFS now agreeing with the more consistent European ECMWF that a ridge of high pressure will build over the eastern two thirds of the U.S. by Monday. So that will bring moderating temperatures for the weekend, though we may see some showers on Sunday as a small storm is mostly deflected to our north by that ridge.

Meanwhile, another strong storm is forecast to develop off the Pacific Northwest coast on Sunday and split. Weather forecast models agree that the bulk of the storm will form an eddy and sink slowly down the West Coast through midweek before turning inland and moving across the Desert Southwest. But some energy is forecast to eject out of the eddy early Monday as it sinks south along the West Coast, and this may bring the possibility of showers to our area later in the day.

Shower possibilities continue on Tuesday as we may see a weak cool front associated with the northern part of the split storm pass through.

It does appear we get a break from the unsettled weather on Wednesday before that Desert Southwest storm may or may not affect our area towards the end of the work week. At this point, the ECMWF is slower and further north with the storm as compared to the American GFS, though both bring the possibility of showers back to our area by later Thursday and Friday even as they keep the bulk of the storm to our south.

Several chances for precipitation this week

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Even though the Steamboat Springs area started out sunny this Sunday morning, clouds have increased early this afternoon ahead of the first of three storms moving near our area over the upcoming week. We should see chances for precipitation on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

The storm for tomorrow is currently affecting the West Coast and has split, with the warmer southern part of the split moving across the Great Basin tonight and bringing a small chance of precipitation to our area on Monday. While the best precipitation will stay to our south, there will be some chance for precipitation during the day, with only an inch or two of snow possible at the higher elevations.

Meanwhile a strong and cold storm forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast tonight will move slowly across the northern Rockies this work week. We should see partly sunny skies and breezy conditions on Tuesday as the strong storm approaches our area.

While the bulk of the storm will end up staying to our north, a cool front will be just to our north on Wednesday and may move through our area on Thursday. There may be some showers later Wednesday, more numerous to our north, and a better chance during the day Thursday when the front is forecast to pass through. While this storm looked far more promising just few days ago, it now appears precipitation amounts will be modest from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday.

Some dry air will follow the storm for a mostly sunny Friday before weather forecast models substantially disagree on the fate of a separate Pacific storm forecast to slingshot around the northern Rockies storm and affect our area on Saturday. Interestingly, the impacts from this storm will be determined by what happens upstream with another Pacific storm. The European ECMWF forecasts a stronger storm off the West Coast which builds a ridge of high pressure over the West and deflects the Saturday storm mostly to our north as compared to the the American GFS, which has a stronger storm for Saturday due to a much weaker upstream storm.

Differences between weather forecast models generally increase in the spring and fall as the hemispheric circulation pattern changes in response to the amount of solar heating of the surface, and we have large differences in the forecasts for next Saturday and the following work week. There should be better consensus in time for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

More unsettled weather for the upcoming week

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Steamboat Springs area is seeing warm, sunny and breezy conditions this Thursday noon in advance of our next storm for Friday. Unsettled weather will persist through Monday before we see a quick break on Tuesday ahead of another round of unsettled weather.

Our current nice weather is courtesy of moderate and dry southwest flow ahead of a elongated storm that extends from just off the central California coast through the Great Basin and into the Canadian Plains. A small storm currently moving across the Gulf of Alaska will push the West Coast storm across the Great Basin tonight and over our area on Friday.

We may see some rain showers in the valley early in the storm on Friday, but much colder temperatures with snowflakes down to the Yampa Valley floor are expected by the end of the day. The storm is forecast to intensify to our east, which places our area in favorable cool, moist and unstable northwest flow through Saturday. I would expect 2-5” on the Powdercam by Saturday morning, with a break early in the day before showers, some of briefly moderate intensity, leave another 1-4” up top through the afternoon and evening.

Meanwhile, that small storm is forecast to cross the central California coast Saturday night and pass over our area Monday morning. We should see another brief break in the precipitation early Sunday before showers start up again during the day Sunday and Sunday night, with another several inches expected at the top of Mt. Werner by Monday morning.

More cool and favorable northwest flow behind the storm will keep showers going on Monday with another several inches possible under the heavier cells.

Meanwhile, a large, cold and strong storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska by the end of the weekend and is forecast to slowly move across the Pacific Northwest through the work week. We should see a break in the unsettled weather Tuesday into mid-Wednesday with the stormy weather staying to our northwest before a weak wave slingshots around the large storm and brings the chance of showers by later Wednesday.

There is weather model disagreement on the evolution and track of the large Pacific Northwest storm, but they agree that some sort of cold front approaches our area on Thursday and turns into a stationary front that looks to hang around our area through the weekend and into the following work week. We can expect at least unsettled and possibly stormy weather as waves of energy ejecting out of the storm move along the front through the entire period. I hope to have a clearer picture of what we may be in store for by my next scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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21 June 2019

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