Light showers as Saturday progresses for Cody’s Challenge

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Saturday will likely be a typical unsettled spring day ahead of a splitting trough that is forecast to enter the west coast on Friday. The northern part of the trough looks to carry most of the cold air north of our area while the southern part will keep the atmosphere moist and unstable. The relatively warm spring temperatures will help showers develop early Saturday and continue through the day, with a rain / now mix at lower elevations and snow at the higher elevations. Though there may be periods of sun between showers, I expect the showers to grow heavier and more numerous in the afternoon, though accumulations will wait until the evening when the trough moves over the area.

Snows continue through Monday with a break Friday

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I had 3” on my deck this morning at 9 am, and the Steamboat ski area reported 2” mid / 3” top at 5 am. As of the 11 am update, they are reporting an additional 3” mid and 5” top. We had some Steamboat magic up top between 4 am and 7 am as 4” of snow fell in those 3 hours, with 2.5” falling between 4 am and 5 am!

The current complex storm will continue to produce snow for the mountain through tomorrow, though there may be a mix at the base during the afternoons. We can expect continued showers during the day before some cool air moves over the area after sunset today and increases snowfall rates for the night. Considering that 3” has already fallen at mid-mountain after the morning report, I would expect 5-10” to be reported tomorrow morning, especially if we get another round of Steamboat magic early tomorrow. Furthermore, some lightening has already been observed to our west, and we may have some of that this evening.

Snows will become more showery in nature as tomorrow progresses, though they may produce brief and localized moderate to heavy snowfall rates, similar to yesterday afternoon and likely this afternoon. Snows will end by midnight after leaving 1-4”, and skies will clear as a transient ridge moves over Friday. Though the day will start cool, though temperatures will quickly warm and showers will likely redevelop Friday afternoon.

Another trough quickly follows the ridging Friday to start snows up again Saturday morning, with showers growing heavier as some cool air enters our area around sunset Saturday. This trough is forecast to undergo some splitting, though future model runs should acquire a better handle on to what degree this occurs. Regardless, there should be some significant accumulations by Sunday morning, perhaps in the 3-7” range.

The slow moving trough will keep showers going through Sunday, though a trailing wave with a fair bit of cool air looks to reinvigorate snows beginning later Sunday, perhaps around sunset. We should do quite well from this trailing wave as it is embedded within northwest flow, and I would expect another 5-10” by Monday morning with an additional 1-4” during the day.

Finally, and for those looking for some sun, models forecast a large and strong ridge to move over the area starting Tuesday and likely lasting for the majority of the remaining workweek. Temperatures will be unseasonably warm and the weather will feel like late spring. There appears to be more energy in the Pacific behind this ridge, though models currently disagree on how this energy interacts with the ridge. Nonetheless, the active spring pattern looks to continue after then.

Some good skiing today followed by a week of unsettled weather

Monday, March 31, 2014

Though the powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak read just under 4” at 5 am, the Steamboat ski area reported 6” mid / 7” up top for the morning report, and I measured 4” on my deck. I’m at a loss in explaining why the powdercam did not reflect the reported measurement since they are located in close proximity.

The snow on the upper mountain was wind affected, and the runs with a western aspect were inconsistent. However, areas protected from the wind skied creamy and bouncy, as the snow that fell last night was relatively dense.

Surprisingly, the best run I found on the front side of the hill was High Noon down to Rolex. High Noon had been recently groomed and there was a nice layer of fluff on top of a soft surface. And the snow had blown into the right side of Rolex, especially in the lower half of the run. There I found the 7” advertised on the report, and it was only lightly skied, probably due to the visibility being far less than optimal on the open runs. It was so good I did a five runs in a row before finally moving on!

Trees skied OK, but really any place you could find that was consistent skied great. And with that in mind, I was able to ski North St. Pats relatively early in my ski day, and was rewarded with an untracked line down the right side of the main pitch. Deep and steep bottomless turns were some of the best of the day, though there are only so many of them that can fit in the short pitch! I also found great deep snow on the Third Pitch out of Gate 3, though I would caution against venturing in that area without knowledge or guidance, especially since it involves some cliff bands and a 15 minute slog back to the ski area.

This storm will be quickly followed by a complex storm presently just off the coast of northern California that will turn our winds to the southwest by tonight. Several pieces of energy are forecast to be ejected over us in this relatively warm southwest flow even, as main low over California moves southward. Showers on Tuesday will likely remain as rain or a mix at lower elevations in the warming temperatures, though snow should occur above Thunderhead, and I would expect 1-4” to be reported by Wednesday morning.

This pattern persists for Wednesday, though showers will increase and snow levels fall a bit as the main storm moves eastward long the Utah - Arizona border. We will get some cooling on the back side of the storm by late Wednesday as it finally moves east of us, and I would expect around 3-6” by Thursday morning. Snows will likely continue Thursday morning before tapering off by the afternoon.

A transient ridge moves over Great Basin late Thursday / early Friday before another storm enters the west coast on Thursday. There is a fair bit of model uncertainty as to whether this system splits and to what degree, but it appears that this storm helps carve out a persistent trough over the Great Basin.  This trough then keeps us in moist and cool northwest flow for a long-lasting snow event, possibly lasting through the weekend and into the next workweek.

Storm for later Sunday followed by unsettled weather for the week

Saturday, March 29, 2014

After a beautiful sunny and warm day today, the weather changes Sunday in advance of the next storm. Southwest winds will increase late Sunday morning and afternoon before a moderately strong cold front moves across the area around sunset. We will likely have localized areas of moderate to heavy snow as the front moves through, with light to moderate showers continuing through Sunday night before decreasing and eventually ending by late Monday.

The storms this past Thursday and Friday produced snow at the low end of my forecast, though most of the other resorts in Colorado were at the high end. At this point, I suspect that the lower elevation of the ski area compared to the others may be handicapping our snow totals, and I will have to be more conservative with forecasts as temperatures continue to warm this spring. I would expect 2-5” from this storm by report time Monday morning, with another 1-3” during the day.

A large and organized low in the Gulf of Alaska will move west this weekend and begin to influence our weather soon after the Sunday system departs late Monday. Pieces of energy ejecting from the large system will produce showers for Tuesday and Tuesday night, but the forecast amounts are uncertain as there is disagreement on whether the system splits upon entering the west coast.

The European model keeps the system more coherent and would lead to greater forecast amounts, while the American model currently splits the system, taking most of the energy west and then south of us Wednesday. Unsettled weather will last through much of the work week nonetheless, as it appears the southern system will be close enough to impact our weather as it eventually moves east of us.

Good skiing today, but better skiing tomorrow

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Steamboat ski area reported 3” mid / 4” top this morning, and it was lightly snowing at report time. There was less than an inch of additional accumulations during the day with some sun on the hill, though it was snowing hard at 4 pm as another convective shower moved through. I currently see more showers upstream on the satellite loop, so we will continue to experience localized and heavy showers through the evening. They will probably wane near midnight, but then pick up again early in the morning as the second part of the storm moves over us, hopefully contributing to some Steamboat Magic between 5 am and 9 am tomorrow morning.

Interestingly, Steamboat recorded one of the lower snow totals this morning in Colorado; the storm produced localized areas of heavier snow last night, and we were unlucky enough to missed by some of these convective cells. Hopefully, we do better tonight!

There was some wind last night, and that evenly compacted the snow in most locations on the upper mountain, creating a smooth and carveable surface. The compacted snow had a fair bit of substance and it skied pleasantly soft on the upper half of the upper mountain. Though the snow became significantly heavier in the lower half, the old snow / new snow interface was not frozen, so it was still soft, albeit crunchy.

The snow was a bit deeper at the top of Morningside - probably around 6”. Christmas Tree Gully was fairly chewed by the time I got to it, though there was good skiing along the sides of the alleys through the trees. No Names skied quite good, especially when turning in the untracked powder.

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