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.

Gorgeous fall weekend ahead

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Skies have finally cleared in Steamboat Springs with temperatures near sixty degrees this Thursday mid afternoon after a cloudy and cool work week. Gorgeous fall weather is on tap for this weekend with mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures that look to last into the start of the next work week.

While we did get the winds and cooler temperatures from the storm earlier in the week, precipitation mostly stayed away from our area even though the surrounding ski resorts did see some snow. I suspect there were some snowflakes flying at the Steamboat Ski Resort when the Yampa Valley received some brief rain showers Monday afternoon and overnight, but unfortunately the mountain webcams were down during the crucial time, and are still down as of this writing.

Currently, a ridge of high pressure is over the West Coast while an impressive trough of low pressure extends from Hudson Bay southward into the Midwest. The end result for our area is a drying atmosphere with breezes from the northwest.

The ridge of high pressure is forecast to move eastward toward the Rockies through the weekend as a series of storms move across the Aleutian Islands and into the Gulf of Alaska. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid sixties on Friday and near seventy degrees for the weekend, which is about five degrees above our average of 64 F.

The ridge is forecast to weaken to start the work week as a storm approaches the West Coast, with another nice day Monday giving way to unsettled weather by later Tuesday and Wednesday. While the wind this past week has taken many of the high elevation leaves off the trees, there is still plenty of color to enjoy at the lower elevations. So be sure to get out and enjoy the beautiful weekend, and I’ll be back with my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon to discuss how much precipitation we may expect during the next work week.

First snow possible at the Steamboat Ski Resort this week

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Mostly cloudy skies with temperatures in the upper sixties and gusty winds from the south are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Sunday afternoon. An approaching storm will bring a cold front through our area later Monday along with sharply colder temperatures for Tuesday and a chance for precipitation which would be snow on the upper half of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Those chances persist to start Wednesday before the sun returns and temperatures moderate through the rest of the work week.

A large storm in the form of an eddy currently over Nevada is forecast to move through Utah on Monday and bring a cold front through our area that afternoon or evening. Ahead of that, the mostly cloudy skies with afternoon temperatures right around our average of 67 F will continue today before skies clear overnight and we see a mostly sunny start to Monday.

But clouds and winds will increase during the day with showers breaking out after noon ahead of the cold front associated with the storm that should move through in the afternoon or evening. The amount of moisture associated with the storm as it affects our area is uncertain as dry air from southern Arizona has been drawn into the eddy. Additionally, the eddy is forecast to lose its identity overnight on Monday as upstream energy forces it to rejoin the jet stream.

The end result is temperatures cold enough for snow on the hill by Tuesday morning, but likely decreasing moisture that might yield a dusting to an inch around and above mid mountain and modest rainfall amounts at the lower elevations. High temperatures for the day will nosedive into the mid fifties in town and upper thirties up top on Tuesday as the main wave moves past.

That upstream energy eventually moves overhead Tuesday night and may have enough moisture to keep the snow showers going at the higher elevations into Wednesday, but skies are expected to begin clearing by the afternoon. And locals know that a clear sky overnight after a cold front means a cold start to the day, with upper twenties forecast for Thursday morning, which is around five degrees below our average of 32 F.

Temperatures will recover into the mid sixties on what will start as a crisp and sunny fall day on Thursday, with continued sunny skies and high temperatures nearing seventy degrees as we start the weekend. It looks like the nice fall weather will continue through next weekend, but be sure to check back as I’ll know more about that in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Weather to start changing this weekend

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Another picture perfect summery day is over the Steamboat Springs area with temperatures in the low sixties under cloudless skies late this Thursday morning. After reaching almost eighty degrees today, high temperatures through Saturday will fall to the mid seventies, along with increasing afternoon breezes and then clouds by Saturday ahead of an approaching storm for next week. By Sunday, the storm will be close enough to drop high temperatures to near seventy degrees along with more wind, with that cooling trend continuing into next week.

A large storm previously in the Gulf of Alaska is being forced eastward across the northern Rockies by our next weather maker taking its place. This storm is currently grabbing some cold air moving southward across Alaska and is forecast to elongate southward along the West Coast on Saturday before cutting off from the main jet stream and forming a wobbly eddy that moves eastward into the Great Basin on Sunday.

There won’t be much change to our gorgeous early fall weather through Friday except a degree or two of cooling and afternoon breezes out of the southwest. Those breezes will increase on Saturday along with some spotty Pacific moisture that will bring some increasing high clouds and perhaps even a shower that would be most likely at the highest elevations to our north.

As the storm moves into Nevada on Sunday, winds will increase and slightly turn to be more from the south as cooler air begins to filter into the area. High temperatures will drop to near seventy degrees, which is still several degrees above our rapidly falling average of 67 F for the first day of October. Clouds will come and go with some showers possible as a lobe of energy ejects out of the storm to our northwest and possibly grazes our area.

The cooling trend will remain in place through through the beginning of the next work week as the storm rotates through the Great Basin on Monday and moves overhead during Tuesday. So enjoy the currently gorgeous early fall weather, and check back on Sunday afternoon for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative where I’ll look at how much and what type of precipitation we may see during the coming work week.

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8 March 2018

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