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Stormy pattern returns tomorrow

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The dry weather the past few days that led to the very cold valley temperatures will end tomorrow as a quick-moving storm from the Pacific Northwest moves over the Steamboat Springs area. Ironically, the approach of the cold front will warm the surface and eliminate the current temperature inversion by increasing surface winds tonight and mixing the stagnant airmass. Periods of light to sometimes moderate snow start during the day tomorrow and continue overnight, leaving 2-5” for the Friday morning report.

Snows will diminish and perhaps even end very early Friday morning before a similar but stronger storm moves over our area later in the morning. Snowfall rates will be moderate to sometimes heavy during the afternoon Friday as this storm drags some cold air from the Canadian Plains southwards. A substantial part of the 5-10” I expect to be reported Saturday morning will occur Friday afternoon.

Snowfall will decrease during the day Saturday before increasing again early Sunday as a trailing wave drags a reinforcing surge of cold air over the area. Snowfall should diminish again during the afternoon and likely end by sunset, so the bulk of the snow I expect for the Monday report should occur Sunday morning.

Temperatures should warm on Monday as a transient ridge tries to build to our west, but the warming will be short-lived as another Pacific storm moves through the ridge and begins a round of light to sometimes moderate snows Monday night.

Snowfall is currently forecast to end around Tuesday before possibly the strongest storm in this series threatens significant snows starting around Wednesday. The forecast for then is uncertain with so much weather occurring over the next week, however.

Steamboat Springs area short term weather forecast

.TODAY…MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS 10 TO 20 near Craig and 15 TO 25 in Steamboat.

.TONIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY IN THE EVENING…THEN MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH a CHANCE OF SNOW AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOWS 10 BELOW ZERO TO 20 BELOW in Craig, but warmer in Steamboat with possible light winds and lows 0 to 10 below.

.THURSDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW, greater in the Steamboat. HIGHS 10 TO 20 in Craig and highs 15 to 25 in Steamboat. WEST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH in Craig, but gustier in Steamboat.

.THURSDAY NIGHT…CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW. LOWS 5 TO 15 in Craig and 0 to 10 above in Steamboat. WEST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 20 or 25 MPH IN THE EVENING BECOMING LIGHT.

.FRIDAY…CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF SNOW IN THE MORNING…THEN SNOW LIKELY IN THE AFTERNOON. SNOW ACCUMULATION 2 TO 4 INCHES. HIGHS 15 TO 25. CHANCE OF SNOW 60 PERCENT.

.FRIDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF SNOW. LOWS ZERO TO 10 ABOVE in Craig, and 5 to 15 in Steamboat with a greater chance of snow.

Light snow returns tonight ahead of cool and unsettled weekend

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Storms to the south of the Steamboat Springs area have helped eliminate the cold valley temperature inversion we experienced last week into this week as overnight clouds last night have kept the lower elevations relatively warm. A storm currently producing moderate snows in southern Colorado will begin light snow over our area around midnight tonight even as it stays south of our area and moves eastward.

Models indicate a weak TROWAL signature for this storm from about midnight through noon or even afternoon Thursday, and the upward motion associated with this feature is a bit of a wildcard for tomorrow’s snow forecast. With that being said, I would expect around 2-4” for the morning report with the possibility of another 2-4” tomorrow morning if there is indeed enhanced snowfall in the northwest quadrant of the storm due to the TROWAL. There may even be another several inches after noon if the latest bullish forecast from the American NAM model verifies as that model now hangs on to snowfall through Thursday evening.

Another storm further to our south quickly follows on Friday. Current models have this storm too far south to bring significant snows to our area, but a trailing wave phases with some cold air from the Canadian Plains and drags it over our area around Friday night, noticeably cooling temperatures and increasing a moist northwest flow that persists through the weekend.

There should be light to sometimes moderate snow for the entire weekend in this favorable flow as models don’t have the precipitation ending until Monday morning. I would expect around 2-5” of low-density snowfall each day, with only very light snowfall after sunset Sunday.

Monday should be mostly precipitation-free before models indicate some sort of storm moving through the West Coast ridge and possibly affecting our area around Tuesday or Wednesday. There is a great deal of uncertainty with regards to how the West Coast ridge evolves as it is affected by both Pacific energy to its west and very cold air from the Canadian Plains to its east.

Cold valleys and warmer mountains persist through the weekend

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The valley temperature as of 1pm has warmed from a low of -23F to 6F while the summit of Mount Werner has warmed from a low of -7F to 13F under sunny skies. A dry grazing wave mostly north and east of us will drag some more cold air over the Steamboat Springs area later tonight, continuing the below -20F low temperatures for the valley into New Years Day and the day after. Meanwhile, a portion of the West Coast ridge bends over the area, noticeably increasing mountain temperatures by Saturday.

The mountains will warm further through the weekend and into the next work week before a Pacific storm makes landfall in Southern California early Monday, backing our winds to the southwest and likely mixing out the cold valley inversion either during the day Monday or Tuesday.

There may be some light showers by Tuesday afternoon as the weakened storm moves mostly south of our area, but it appears accumulations may be minimal. Another stronger storm follows closely behind, but current forecasts have this storm staying south of our area at the end of the work week as well.

Uncertainty increases by the weekend as the American GFS has another Pacific storm undercutting the West Coast ridge and perhaps phasing with some cold Canadian air while the European ECMWF keeps the weekend storm offshore and the cold Canadian air to our north.

Frigid temperatures in the valley but warmer on the hill

Sunday, December 27, 2015

While the valley is still stuck in just-below zero temperatures after a -20F start to the day, the upper mountain has warmed to 18F as warmer air aloft has moved into the Steamboat Springs area. Monday should be a repeat of today before a dry wave drags some more cold air over the area early on Tuesday, cooling mountain temperatures but ironically bringing some warming to the valley as the strong temperature inversion is moderated.

A series of weak storms from the northwest and north will interact and threaten the area with light snow and continued cold temperatures beginning later Tuesday or early Wednesday. Light fluffy snow will likely fall for all of Wednesday and into Thursday morning before clearing skies should be noted by later in the day Thursday. Depending on when the snow starts, there may be several inches of snow on the hill by Wednesday morning and 3-6” by Thursday morning.

A West Coast ridge typical of recent El Nino episodes forms near the end of the work week, though temperatures will remain cool as the midweek storms are absorbed underneath the building ridge. There is a fair bit of uncertainty for next weekend’s weather as Pacific energy may interact with not only the lingering storm underneath the ridge, but also a grazing Canadian wave containing very cold air.

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