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Winter storm winds down today before before unsettled weather returns midweek

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Currently it is -6F up top with 20 mph winds gusting to 30mph. Very light snow should continue on the hill through this evening as the last arctic surge moves through later this afternoon leading to additional accumulations of several inches by the Monday morning report. Valleys should see some periods of sun.

Ironically, the cold front has warmed the valleys by mixing out the very cold air, but inversions will reform beginning tonight leading to very cold temperatures. Mountain slopes, though, will begin warming tomorrow as we see sun and then warm further on Tuesday as the air arctic air mass moves east.

A couple of weak and disorganized Pacific waves move across the area or just south of the area late Tuesday. Snow may begin late Tuesday or Wednesday and continue until late Wednesday night. The leading wave, though weak, will contain some moisture and will turn the winds to the northwest, so I might expect 3-6” from Tuesday night through Thursday morning.

Perhaps a short break on Thursday before the next stronger wave approaches our area. The American model insists the wave will be progressive which leads to a good shot of snow for Friday, but the European model has this wave splitting as it enters the coast, minimizing or eliminating precipitation for our area.

In either case, both models have another wave timed for late in the weekend which should produce some snow for our area.

Winter storm begins this evening

Friday, January 3, 2014

A strong winter storm approaches the area today with clouds appearing later in the afternoon, and snow showers should begin in the cooling atmosphere by this evening. Periods of moderate to heavy snow should occur through Saturday as the main wave passes through. Snow should become more showery in nature behind the main wave, but at least two distinct reinforcing shots of cold air later Saturday and again later Sunday will keep sometimes heavy snow showers going through the weekend.

I’m a little concerned that the winds could turn westerly Friday night into Saturday and negatively affect the snow quality Saturday morning, but the flow does turn northwest later in the day. Furthermore, unlike the New Years storm, we should have cooling or static temperatures during the entire event which will limit the wind speeds and minimize the damage westerly winds usually cause at Steamboat.

I would guess around 3-6” of wind affected snow by the Saturday morning report. Westerly winds should turn northwesterly by the afternoon as snow showers continue, especially around another surge of cold air currently timed for around sunset. An additional 3-6” of very light and fluffy powder is expected by the Sunday morning report as snow densities fall below 5%. Winds from the northwest will pick up again later Sunday as the last surge of cold air enters the area. Snow showers will end by midnight Sunday after another 3-6”, which will be reported Monday morning.

A series of weak and disorganized Pacific waves move across the area or split around the area beginning midweek, and I expect much milder temperatures and at least some snow from these. Snow may begin late Tuesday or Wednesday and continue to the end of the workweek as a couple of these waves influence the area. Current model solutions have a break next weekend before another storm is forecast sometime late Sunday or early Monday.

Storms every few days to continue

Thursday, January 2, 2014

As skies cleared behind yesterday’s storm, valleys markedly cooled last night. This created another round of temperature inversions that will keep the lower elevations cold before they are mixed out by the next storm on Saturday. Today and most of tomorrow should be mostly sunny with mountain slopes warming far more than the valleys before high clouds appear ahead of the approaching storm later Friday.

Snow showers should begin in the cooling atmosphere by Friday evening as the storm moves over the area. Periods of moderate to heavy snow should follow by Saturday morning as the main wave passes through. Snow should become more showery in nature behind the main wave, but at least two distinct reinfocing shots of cold air later Saturday and again later Sunday will keep sometimes heavy snow showers going through the weekend.

I’m a little concerned that the winds could turn westerly Friday night into Saturday morning and negatively affect the snow quality first thing Saturday morning, but the flow does turn northwest later in the day. Furthermore, unlike the New Years storm, we should have cooling during the entire event which will limit the wind speeds and minimize the damage westerly winds usually cause at Steamboat.

Snow amounts are bit tricky at this point due to the westerly flow in the beginning of the storm, but I would guess around 4-8” each day of the weekend, leading to a storm total of 8-16” by Monday morning.

A series of weak and disorganized Pacific wavess move across the area or split around the area beginning midweek, and I expect much milder temperatures and at least some snow from these. This storm track is currently forecast to continue through next weekend as stronger, but still relatively warm Pacific waves cross the area late in the workweek and again late next weekend.

Outstanding skiing this afternoon

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Well, the storm did end up cooperating as the 1pm 24 hour report was 10” at mid and snowing. Added to the 2” yesterday morning means a foot, and they likely picked up an additional inch or so after 1pm as it snowed till about 3 or so. At that point the sun made an appearance creating stunning vistas!

I passed on pressing glass this morning as there was only 5” overnight, and since we had a period of time with westerly winds, I was thinking the snow would be wind-affected and difficult to ski. However, heavy snow showers started this morning when the wind switched to the northwest and I believe these filled in all of the uneveness.

The first clue was the flat pitch in the trees off the top of Storm Peak Express and Highline which skied soft, powdery and bouncy. Skiing remained that way as the pitch steepened down though Closet and over to Shadows to Lower Shadows. I measured between 14” and 16” of snow in the favored areas, with about the bottom half of that depth showing wind affects.

That was so good I repeated with slightly different lines through Shadows and Lower Shadows. Then over to the Twilight area which also skied great. Then over to the trees around Rolex which also held more of the same.

Last run on the upper hill was a ripping run down most of Sundown lifline. This did not have the depth of new snow, however the surface was burnished by the wind creating a consistent, soft and bouncy surface. Over to the newly opend terrain under the the old Priest Creek chair below Duster to find pockets of deep bottomless turns.

I then took a couple of runs in the trees off of Why Not above BC Skiway on the lower mountain, but there is a lot of downed timber and shrubbery in there and more snow is needed. But I found great deep consistent powder while dodging the obstacles nonetheless.

Snow likely late Friday into Saturday

I had about 4” on my deck this morning, which matched the 7” mid and 6” top Steamboat phone report (when it FINALLY came out at 8am, EXTREMELY LATE WITH NO APOLOGY OR EXPLANATION) after subtracting the 2” we received during the day yesterday.

I was disappointed we accumulated only a reported 0.25” between 5am and 9am as I was counting on an additional 2-4”, but this storm did not cooperate. Snow showers will continue today before skies clear for Thursday and some of Friday as mountain slopes warm.

High clouds will infiltrate the area by later Friday as the next storm approaches. Snow showers will begin late in the day or evening before intensifying during the day Saturday. The European model has been most consistent in for forecasting a wetter and cooler pattern, and the American models seem to be grudgingly moving toward that solution. If the European solution verifies, snow showers may continue through Sunday as another wave of cool air moves over the area. At this point, model uncertainty is too high to predict snow amounts.

Some clearing should ensue by the beginning of the new workweek before a disorganized wave approaching from the west moves over the area around midweek.

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