Thursday, October 1, 2020
The Steamboat Springs area is seeing a comfortable temperature of 65 F under sunny skies early this Thursday afternoon. There is not really any change to the weather for the upcoming week, with sunny days and cool nights in our future. However a couple of disturbances are forecast to graze our area on Saturday and Monday leading to some breezy conditions that may increase wildfire activity.
In fact, we saw some smoke this morning for the first time in a couple of days from the close-by Middle Fork Fire that was well forecast by the NOAA smoke plume model, and that model has the smoke continuing to clear through the day. The model is run once per day overnight and provides a 42 hour forecast of smoke over the nation as well as a close-up view of Colorado.
Our current spell of beautiful weather is courtesy of a ridge of high pressure over the West Coast that is separating the cold and stormy weather over the Gulf of Alaska and the eastern half of the country. A disturbance will move down the eastern side of the ridge and graze our area on Friday and Saturday, with breezy winds the main result.
Though winds will subside on Sunday, they will pick up again on Monday as some energy rotates through the Gulf of Alaska and temporarily flattens the ridge of high pressure. But temperatures look to be largely unaffected by these passing disturbances, so expect mostly sunny skies through the upcoming week with high temperatures within several degrees of seventy, a bit above our average high of 65 F and low temperatures in the twenties, a bit below our average low of 30 F.
There may be some hope of a pattern change around the following weekend or soon after as ridges of high pressure over the West Coast and the Scandinavian countries conspire to shift the cold air currently over the North Pole and Hudson Bay into western Siberia and the north Pacific. So enjoy the beautiful fall weather now, and I should know more about that pattern change possibility by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
A brisk fall day is over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday afternoon thanks to several cool fronts that have moved or will move through our region today. There will be only enough moisture associated with the fronts for some clouds today before sunny skies prevail for the upcoming week. But beware of quite cold morning temperatures below freezing this week, with the coldest mornings on Monday and Tuesday possibly reaching the teens.
A warm ridge of high pressure is currently over the West Coast while a series of cold fronts has brought cool conditions to the northern half of the country, save for the Northeast. Pacific energy traveling over the ridge of high pressure is continuing to mix with cold air over Hudson Bay and will bring a final cold front through our area later this afternoon and evening, followed by subsiding winds and very dry air.
With clear skies and calm winds, temperatures will plummet to as low as the teens tonight, ten to fifteen degrees below our average of 31 F. And though there will be sunny skies on Monday, high temperatures are still only expected to reach about five to ten degrees below our average of 66 F.
But temperatures warm under still sunny skies starting Tuesday as the West Coast ridge of high pressure tries to move inland, with high temperatures reaching above average for a delightful day.
In fact, delightful days are expected through the weekend and likely beyond as we remain under the providence of a dominant West Coast Ridge of high pressure. Pacific waves of energy continuing to move over the ridge of high pressure will continue to mix with cold air from the Hudson Bay area, though that weather looks to remain almost completely east of the Continental Divide. I say almost since there are several waves that may be close enough to graze our area starting after midweek, and weather forecast models often struggle with the westward extent of these cold air intrusions, but right now they are forecast to remain over the Midwest.
Precipitation chances are nil for the upcoming week, so enjoy the beautiful weather consisting of cool nights and warm sunny days. My next update to this weather narrative is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sunny skies and warm temperatures are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Thursday afternoon, with the weather staying warm and turning breezy on Friday and Saturday. A cool front on Sunday, perhaps accompanied by some afternoon showers, will then drop daytime temperatures and make Monday morning chilly enough where outdoor plants will need to be protected. We will then be sandwiched by hot air to our west and cold air to our east for the rest of the work week, with dry weather and seasonable temperatures the likely outcome for north-central Colorado.
The ridge of high pressure currently over the southern and central Rockies is forecast to be flattened by a strong Pacific jet stream moving across the Gulf of Alaska through the weekend. The jet stream will bring dry and increasing winds from the west, especially on Friday and Saturday, with temperatures staying more than ten degrees above our average high of 68 F on Friday before dropping several degrees by Saturday. Needless to say, this will not be good for wildfire behavior.
Weather forecast models agree that a cool front will move through our area on Sunday, though disagree on its strength and if there will associated moisture. It appears the disagreement is centered on how much cold air from the northern latitudes is tapped by the storm, with the European ECMWF trending toward a cooler and wetter solution as compared to the American GFS. At this point, I would expect a cooler Sunday with temperatures closer to or below average and the chance of afternoon showers around and behind the front.
Monday morning will likely bring temperatures cold enough for outside plants to need protection, but plenty of sun should warm daytime highs back to around the low-seventies.
Meanwhile, a large ridge of high pressure builds over the West Coast behind the front as a quite cold trough of low pressure forms over the Midwest. Our area will be between the two air masses, and though our weather may tilt to either the colder or warmer side depending upon the evolution of these features, it is likely that the beautiful weather consisting of cool nights (with outdoor plants still requiring overnight protection) and warm sunny days should continue for most of the work week.
Pacific energy moving over the top of the ridge of high pressure to our west is forecast to periodically bring dry cool fronts near our area at times after midweek, though there is a fair bit of uncertainty with respect to timing and proximity. At this point, other than the uncertain temperatures, dry weather through the following weekend looks likely. For what it is worth, longer-range weather forecast models do indicate the possibility of the western ridge of high pressure breaking down after next weekend.
Stay tuned for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday for details about the cool front that day as well as well as a possible pattern change after the following weekend.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Sunny skies and comfortable temperatures in the mid sixties are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Sunday afternoon. We’ll see warming and dry weather for the upcoming work week except for a small chance of showers later Tuesday. A couple of weak cool fronts are then forecast for Friday and again Saturday, with first westerly and then northwesterly winds increasing as the jet stream grazes our area.
While high temperature today should be around our average of 70 F, they should be in the mid-seventies through midweek. A weak and diffuse wave of energy and moisture will pass by from Monday through Tuesday nights in flow from the southwest, so look for some increasing clouds and the possibility of showers by later Tuesday. But chances for precipitation are low, and like last night, any showers that do form will be light.
Tuesday will also mark the autumnal equinox when, at 7:30 am MDT, the sun passes over the equator on its journey to the southern hemisphere. So while we still be losing daylight everyday through the winter solstice, we will start to lose it more slowly.
Meanwhile, a weak storm currently over the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to be pushed eastward over the work week by a stronger eastward moving storm in the Bering Sea. While both storms will pass to our north, they will be close enough do drag a weak cool front through our area Friday and a stronger one Saturday, similar to the ECMWF forecast from last Thursday’s forecast. Both will be dry, and both will increase the winds, first from the west later Thursday and then eventually from the northwest by Friday night.
Ahead of the stronger cool front on Saturday, temperatures will rise from the mid-seventies on Wednesday to the upper seventies and low eighties for Thursday and Friday. Look for increasing wildfire danger as temperatures soar to much above average along with increasing winds.
While Saturday will likely be the coolest day of the upcoming week, a ridge of high pressure is forecast to build over the West Coast during the weekend, so expect above average temperatures to return under continued dry weather. Longer range weather forecast models continue the warm and dry weather through the following work week, but stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon for any changes to that forecast.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
The Steamboat Springs area has seen a high temperature so far of 78 F under mostly sunny and hazy skies this Thursday afternoon. Winds will increase ahead of a grazing storm mid-weekend that will likely produce more wind than rain, with a leftover part of that storm eventually moving over our area during the midweek period and bringing a slightly better chance of showers. We should see high temperatures decreasing from the five to ten degrees above our average of 71 F on Friday and Saturday to the more seasonable mid to lower seventies from Sunday through the following work week.
A storm currently just off the Pacific Northwest coast is forecast to move inland this weekend, deflecting the ridge of high pressure that is currently over the Intermountain West. The smoke plume forecast over the next day shows the smoke currently over our area from the Middle Fork fire and fires over the Uinta Mountains in Utah abating by tomorrow afternoon as winds turn to be from the current northwest to the west ahead of a weak cool front for Saturday.
However, winds are forecast to become breezy ahead of and along the front, which is expected across our region later Saturday, and will not be good news for the wildfires. There is some moisture associated with the storm, but it looks high-based and brief, bringing a meager chance for showers Saturday afternoon and evening.
Winds decrease on Sunday and turn to be from the southwest on Monday ahead of a piece of the weekend storm that was left behind off the coast of California. This piece will be slowly carried over our area through midweek, and though weather forecast models are not in complete agreement on the strength of the storm as it passes over our area, it does appear we will see a weak cool front on Wednesday.
Moisture may be increasing over our area as soon as later Monday, with a slightly better chance of showers on Tuesday and Wednesday as compared to the mid-weekend storm, though chances are still not high. The strength of the wave will determine the amount of cooling we see with the front and whether the winds shift to be more from the northwest behind the front.
Incidentally, the autumnal equinox will occur Tuesday morning at 7:30 am MDT when the sun passes over the equator, so while days will become shorter until the winter solstice, the daily rate at which we lose daylight will start decreasing.
There is considerable uncertainty heading into next weekend as the European ECMWF has a faster and shallower Pacific wave grazing our area and staying mostly dry, while the American GFS has a slower but stronger and wetter storm encroaching over our area by the end of the weekend. Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon to see what we have in store for the last weekend in September.