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Snow for Sunday night before Gulf of Alaska low impacts our weather beginning Wednesday

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Wow - I had another bad forecast for this morning, as even my reduced 3-6” was far too optimistic. We received no snow in 24 hours. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Abasin and Loveland both picked up 5”, with 4” at Copper, and most resorts received something. It did appear on satellite that the moisture plume was south of us, but the models insisted we would see at least light accumulations.

I’m having a tough time forecasting these warm events. Last week, the models over-forecasted for our area, though we still received over 2 feet of snow. With significant precipitation falling from the previous storm, I was ready to believe part of the model forecast, but this time was a bust. My inclination is to be heavily biased against these warm events in a stabilizing atmosphere because we generally don’t do well from them. Evidently, today and yesterday were more the rule, and last week was more the exception, with the cold air trapped in the valleys possibly being a key player in producing snow.

With that being said, the next compact storm will bring light snow into the area by Sunday afternoon. This wave moves quickly over our area Sunday evening, likely bringing a burst of snowfall with falling temperatures. I’d like to think we’ll receive 3-6” from this as we do get some cool air and upward motion with the wave as it passes through.

Dry air quickly invades the area Monday behind the departing storm for around 24 hours as temperatures quickly warm. The storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to move over the area in at least two pieces, with the first bringing high clouds into the area later on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is a surface cold front associated with this lead wave which should pass through the area Wednesday evening bringing a period of moderate to heavy snowfall.

Snows should decrease Thursday morning before another 24 hour break before the main part of the very cold Gulf of Alaska storm brings another front into the area on Friday. Snowfall in seasonally cold weather will likely continue through part of the weekend.

More snow tonight, Sunday night and midweek

Friday, February 14, 2014

Well, a disappointing forecast for today as I expected 6-12”, and the Steamboat ski area reported 1” mid / 3” top this morning. We did get the cool air I expected, and the wind direction was favorable, but the storm did not produce for us, though the Summit County resorts and Winter Park did pick up around 7”. I’m currently attributing this to spottier moisture than forecast, but I’m willing to entertain other ideas. The skiing was very good though, as the dense snow provided a soft and creamy surface yesterday and today.

Considering how much less snow was in last night’s storm than originally forecast, I’ll lower my expectations to 3-6” by tomorrow morning before the main part of the storm passes. Showers will likely continue through the day and most of the evening before a small break ahead of the next wave which is currently trending weaker in the model guidance. Showers will begin again later Sunday morning and peak around midnight, leaving 2-5” on the ground by the Monday morning report.

Dry air invades the area for Monday and Tuesday leading to beautiful days and cool nights. A complex storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska will begin influencing our weather on Wednesday as a piece of energy breaks off and travels over our area around then. This is a fast moving storm, and will be quickly followed by the main storm as it enters the west coast on Thursday.

This storm is currently forecast to be very cold, similar to the storms before this current warm storm cycle established itself several weeks ago. Details will evolve as we get closer to the main event near the end of the workweek.

Reiterating the current forecast

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Steamboat ski area reported 3” at mid / summit this morning, and their 11am update reported an additional 1” mid / 2” summit. A couple of embedded waves in moist northwest flow pass by the area tonight and again later Friday into Saturday morning, keeping snow going through Saturday. Another fast moving wave passes over the area Sunday night increasing snowfall again before the sun reappears later Monday.

I really don’t have many changes to the previous forecast other than expecting more snow from the Sunday night wave. About 6-12” of snow are expected by tomorrow morning with tonight’s wave as there is some cool air associated with it. Snows decrease early in the day and temperatures warm, however, snow should increase later in the day as the second and weaker wave grazes our area that evening into Saturday morning. I expect another 4-8” for the Saturday morning report as very light snow or snow showers continues through the much of the day.

Snows will lighten and may end, or not, late Saturday or early Sunday before the last fast moving wave in this storm cycle affects our area by late in the day Sunday. This is a compact and fast moving system that will likely leave 4-8” on hill for the Monday morning report.

We should have a beautiful couple of days with seasonably warm temperatures early in the workweek before a grazing wave passes near our area midweek. The model trends have been weakening this storm, and the current forecast for precipitation is uncertain.

A cold and significant trough is forecast by several models to enter the west coast later in the workweek. This may begin affecting our weather by the end of the workweek as the flow backs to the southwest ahead of the storm, and a cold and snowy weekend may be in our future as the trough is currently forecast to move over our area around then.

Snow showers give way to another round of persistent snowfall

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Snow showers are currently ongoing up on the hill, though accumulations are very light. A moist wave in northwest flow increase the intensity a bit this evening, but only 1-4” are expected by Wednesday morning. However, another long-duration event is forecast to begin later in the day and will keep snows going through the early part of the weekend.

Snow showers will give way to more persistent snows in the afternoon or early evening tomorrow as another surge of moisture is carried over our area in generally northwest by the very moist polar jet stream. Temperatures are again expected to be warm, especially before atmospheric cooling increases early Thursday. I would expect 2-6” by Thursday morning, but periods of moderate to heavy snow during the day and night as an embedded wave approaches Thursday and passes through the area by early Friday. About 6-12” of snow are expected by Friday morning before snows decrease early in the day. However, they will ramp up again later in the day as yet another wave grazes our area that evening.

We may receive another 4-8” by Saturday morning at which point a transient ridge moves overhead, perhaps even revealing some sun. A very fast moving wave may again yield some snow showers by Sunday, but accumulation are expected to be light.

We should have a beautiful couple of days early in the workweek before another approaching storm makes landfall along the west coast around the middle of the week. This storm will be different than the previous two as southwest flow develops ahead of this digging system. Lot of uncertainty with this storm, but it may significantly affect our weather near the end of the workweek.

Outstanding skiing this afternoon

Monday, February 10, 2014

Yesterday was great and today was better as I measured about 7” around 2pm this afternoon covering my tracks from yesterday. Snow pellets or snow grains, which look like ‘dipping dots’ were falling out of the sky when I was up there, and created a fantastic medium to ski in.

And I mean ski IN as it was very easy to control the depth of the turn by the amount of pressure placed upon the ski. This was high density snowfall again as the temperature at the top was near 20F, but it was supremely consistent and could provide significant resistance if you dug deep. The end result is you could confidently charge very steep and narrow lines in complete control; in fact it often felt like slow-motion skiing as my skis traveled through the snow. And this was accompanied by the sound of the flying snow pellets thrown up by the turn bouncing off my outerwear, which added another dimension to the solitude of powder skiing in the empty trees.

Pretty much the entire Priest Creek area from Shadows over to Rolex had tons of untracked snow and skied similarly. Same goes for the Hurricane trees on my way over to the Why Not trees. The snow there on the lower mountain was heavier than up top, but the untracked snow still skied great.

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