Active spring pattern continues as next storm starts Wednesday

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A beautiful day today before 2 distinct waves influence our weather from Wednesday through Friday. An area of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to eject a wave that will first bring high cloudiness and then precipitation into our area on Wednesday. Temperatures will be warm with this first wave, and we may have rain in the valley and snow higher up on the hill later Wednesday before the valley rain turns to snow in the evening. Additionally, the atmosphere may be unstable enough to support thunder with these passing waves, especially Wednesday afternoon.

I would expect up to several inches of heavy snow on the hill by sunset, though the storm will intensify around then, keeping snows going through the night. The relatively warm storm will limit accumulations to 4-8” for the Thursday report before a break between the two storms appears Thursday morning.

This break will be short-lived as the second colder wave affects our area by Thursday afternoon. Moderate to heavy snows are expected by sunset and will continue past midnight. Though model forecasts diminish snows during the Friday morning hours, we may have some Steamboat Magic occur then, boosting snows after the 5-10” Friday morning report. A weak trailing wave passes over the area later Friday keeping lighter snows going through the day for an additional 2-4” before a transient ridge builds bringing warmer and drier weather moves over the area Saturday .

The nice weather Saturday gives way to another quick-moving wave for Sunday. Precipitation should be heaviest in the morning before decreasing in intensity during the afternoon and may last until midnight, with rain or a rain / snow mix in the valleys.

Another transient ridge brings nice weather for Monday of next week before another major storm begins affecting our area around Tuesday afternoon.

Excellent snow quality today

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Steamboat ski area reported 5” mid / 6” top this morning, though, as expected, all of that came during the day on Saturday. In fact, I measured 4” of snow on my deck that fell between 6 am and 10 am Saturday morning. The snow started slightly earlier on the hill and lasted longer, though the sun was out late in the day.

I had expected that snow quality would have been similar to last Tuesday or the Tuesday before that, but that was not the case. The temperature this time did not get colder than about 13 F up top during the snowfall while the previous two storms were in the mid single digits. The end result is the snow skied a fair bit heavier yesterday, even on the northern-tilted aspects.

I had lowered snow-quality expectations for the sunny day today, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the lower relative humidities and breezy conditions last night and today dried the snow a fair bit. The snow was far more workable, at least for the upper half of the upper mountain. Closet skied great, as did the Rolex trees, Kuus’ Cruise and Typhoon. The last run of my day was spent poking around in No Names, still uncovering batches of untracked turns in the deep powder.

The grazing wave expected for tomorrow looks to bring some cooling, but precipitation will stay almost completely to our east and north. Sunny weather is on tap later in the day, Tuesday and likely Wednesday morning before the next significant storm begins to affect our weather later Wednesday. Current forecasts show a couple of waves keeping snow going on the hill from late Wednesday to late Friday. There may be some rain in the valleys preceding each frontal passage before that turns to snow.

Passing waves bring cooling for Friday, and snow for Saturday and Monday

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Interactions between waves traveling around the west side of the ever-present Hudson Bay vortex and Pacific disturbances undercutting the remnants of the west coast ridge will bring unsettled weather to our area starting tomorrow afternoon.

The first mostly dry wave brings some cooling tonight and tomorrow, but precipitation will hold off until late Friday when some more cool air in western Canada is drawn into a Pacific wave traveling over our area on Saturday. Current model trends forecast a stationary front over our area during the day, and precipitation will be focused in the vicinity of this oscillating boundary.

There is a fair bit of uncertainty to the exact location of this front, but current model guidance shows light snow starting late Friday evening and intensifying Saturday morning before tapering off late in the day. We may have an inch or so of snow Saturday morning with an additional 2-5” falling during the day, which will be reported Sunday morning.

Some dry air works into the area Sunday for a nice day, but precipitation begins again very early Monday morning as another Pacific wave drags some more cool air over our area during the day Monday. This one is currently forecast to be a bit cooler and drier, but again there is some uncertainty due to the amount of cool air injected into the system. Currently, I expect 1-4” of snow during the day.

A trailing wave passes north of our area later Monday keeping temperatures on the cool side early Tuesday before a transient ridge brings sunny weather and warming for later Tuesday and Wednesday. However, this break will be short-lived as the west coast ridge disappears allowing significant Pacific energy to move inland. This looks to be a long-lived pattern change as I see a very active spring pattern through at least the first week of April. The first storm of this pattern is currently timed for around Thursday.

Another round of Tuesday powder makes for great skiing

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Steamboat ski area reported 3” mid / 5” top at 5 am this morning, and by 1 pm the report had 7” mid / 10” top. Interestingly, there was 3” up top at 4 am and it snowed about an 1” / hr between 4 am and 9 am, except for a 2.5” burst between 4 am and 5 am - now THAT is Steamboat Magic!

More magic was in force on the other side of the Sunshine Peak ridge as over 16” of snow was measured in the early afternoon near the base of the Morningside lift! Satellite loops showed a persistent convective cell in the area from about 7 am to 2 pm that was likely the cause of the enhanced snowfall rates. And I measured as much of 20” in the Second Pitch!

Similar to last Tuesday, the skiing kept getting better as the snow accumulated and covered the last run’s tracks. The upper half of the upper mountain skied great all day, while the lower half benefited greatly from the additional snowfall during the day.

The first time I was in Shadows, for example, the lower parts were still crunchy, so I went over to the Twilight trees seeking a flatter pitch so as to keep above the hard surface. The skiing here was soft through the whole run, as expected. In fact, I did about four runs in a row as I kept finding untracked lines, and even the pitch below Duster skied great.

It seemed there was less snow over in the Rolex trees, but the Sundown and Priest Creek liflines skied soft and effortlessly. The 3:30 trees still had big swaths of uncut powder when I finally left that to check out what the additional snow had done for Shadows. By then, I was measuring almost a foot in the favored locations, and the skiing turned great for the entire run as the crunchies were well buried.

After several more runs in Closet and Shadows, I jumped into Morningside and was greeted by the 16”. It was a bit shocking to see that much snow back there, and I had enough time to lap Wake Up Call three times off the top - with face shots on the initial steep pitch. After that, one more hike to the top to ski the East Face, and then over to the Second Pitch to sample the 20”.

It’s always nice to be reminded of mid-winter skiing in the springtime, especially when the snow quality is fantastic!

Snow later today through Wed. morning

Monday, March 17, 2014

Clouds have overspread our area ahead of a strong cold front expected to pass through the area later this afternoon towards sunset. This system will bring sharply colder temperatures tonight and tomorrow, and snows lasting through Wednesday morning. Additionally, northwest winds will increase later today and likely last through much of the night, though the Steamboat ski area is fairly well protected from northwest flow. I would expect 2-4” by tomorrow morning and an additional 3-6” by Wednesday morning as a trailing wave passes over our area late Tuesday to keep snows going through the night. This storm may be similar to the one last Tuesday which produced outstanding skiing during the day.

Skies should clear later Wednesday and temperatures warm as a small ridge builds over our area. This pleasant weather should last into the weekend before a grazing wave to our north brings slightly cooler temperatures and some upward forcing to the region that might sustain showers later Saturday and possibly into Sunday.

Another ridge builds into our area after the weekend for a nice few days, but it appears March will go out like a lion as additional energy from the Pacific interacts with the still present and very cold Hudson Bay vortex.

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