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Wet and cool weather returns for Wednesday and Thursday

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is experiencing a mostly sunny and beautiful Cinco de Mayo this Sunday afternoon as temperatures have already reached 64 F, four degrees higher than average. Save for a chance of some afternoon showers along with gusty winds today and Monday, the warm and mostly dry weather will stick around through Tuesday before a series of Pacific storms bring inclement weather back to our area starting Wednesday. Cool and wet weather will persist through Thursday, with accumulating snows at higher elevations again likely, before we see drying during Friday and next weekend.

The quiet stretch of weather for today and tomorrow belies the complicated weather pattern that will evolve over the west this week. The key features are two warm storms caught underneath a ridge of high pressure over the Gulf of Alaska, an active Pacific jet stream and some still-cold air over the Canadian Plains.

Several waves of Pacific energy and moisture will travel over the Gulf of Alaska ridge and briefly mix with some of the cold air in Canada. They will then travel southward, with the first wave dislodging the first warm storm, currently crossing the southern California coast, across the Great Basin on Tuesday. Winds will become breezy out of the southwest as dry air from the Desert Southwest is carried over our area.

By Tuesday night or early Wednesday, a second wave rounding the Gulf of Alaska ridge moves the first initially warm Pacific storm over Colorado. Showers are forecast to become widespread by early Wednesday before a cold front passes during the day, allowing for accumulating snow at the higher elevations and possibly a mix of rain and snow at the Yampa Valley floor by the evening and overnight.

Meanwhile, a third Pacific wave rounding the Gulf of Alaska ridge splits as it head southward, with some of the wave keeping cold air and showers over our area through Thursday and some of the wave heading to our southwest and merging with the second warm Pacific storm approaching the southern California coast. If current forecasts verify, this complex weather system could leave 6-12” of snow at the higher elevations by Friday, along with 1-2” of liquid or liquid equivalent for all elevations.

Weather forecast models currently agree that our area will dry out Friday under seasonably cool temperatures as we are caught between the warm storm to our southwest and cold air to our north. Furthermore, the Gulf of Alaska ridge is forecast to move inland behind a fourth Pacific wave that may drag a dry and weak cool front through our area on Saturday, keeping the cool temperatures around for the first half of the weekend. Temperatures then warm to finish out the weekend for what is now advertised as a beautiful Mother’s Day.

Warmer and drier weather ahead of another storm system for next week

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Steamboat Springs is drying out this Thursday behind an impressive spring storm that brought 3 days of rain, snow, hail, wind, thunder and cold temperatures to our area. Drier weather and warmer temperatures are expected through the weekend before another couple of storms combine to bring more inclement weather back to Colorado starting around Tuesday and lasting into the following weekend.

The previous storm brought almost 1.5” of liquid water and an inch or two of snow to Steamboat Springs, 2” of liquid water and about 8” of snow to mid-mountain, and about 2.2” of liquid water and 15” of snow to the top of Mt. Werner. Today, a weak cool front associated with a trailing wave behind the storm will keep our high temperatures below our average high of 58 F and our average low of 31 F tonight.

Temperatures will warm to near average on Friday and above average on Saturday before another weak cool front associated with a storm well to our north is dragged through our area later in the day. We may see some showers Saturday afternoon and into the overnight along with a cool Sunday morning as the front moves through. Showers may redevelop again later Sunday as temperatures warm.

Monday will likely be the last warm and mostly dry day for the work week, save for possible afternoon showers, before a couple of storms move over our area around Tuesday. Similar to this past week, we’ll again have a wet and warm storm currently between Hawaii and California merging with a much colder storm traveling through the Gulf of Alaska.

Though the details will undoubtedly change in the weather forecast models as the storms approach, another stretch of cool weather with significant precipitation is looking likely starting Tuesday and extending through at least the work week. And because the Gulf of Alaska will mix with some still very cold air over western Canada, snow will again be likely at the higher elevations and possible even down to the Yampa Valley floor at times. Stay tuned to my next weather narrative on Sunday for further details.

Periods of rain and snow through midweek

Sunday, April 28, 2019

After the previous week of warm and very pleasant weather in the Steamboat Springs area, change has arrived. Energy and moisture that ejected over our area ahead of a strong and cold Pacific Northwest storm brought soft hail of almost a half inch in diameter just before noon this Sunday morning, and showers are expected to continue through the day. Our area will continue to see precipitation through midweek, along with high temperatures ten to twenty degrees below our average high of 58 F, first as a warmer and wetter storm moves through from later Monday into Tuesday and then as the colder Pacific Northwest storm moves through from later Tuesday through Wednesday.

Showers will continue into this Sunday evening before ending for a time later overnight. The break will be short-lived, however, as a warm and wet storm that originally broke off from the active Pacific jet stream and moved south early last week finally crosses the West Coast early tomorrow. While temperatures will cool behind today’s passing disturbance, they will warm a bit as the southern storm approaches, but still remain unseasonably cool due to thick cloud cover. Showers should begin around mid-morning or so and continue through the afternoon before they become moderate to heavy by the evening and continue into early Tuesday. Though there likely won’t be snowfall accumulations in the Yampa Valley, there could be as much as 5-10” of wet and heavy, high density snow around 10,000′, with about half that much at around 9000′.

There may be a small break in the weather early Tuesday behind the departing southern storm and the advancing colder Pacific Northwest storm, or more likely just less productive showers, before they pick up again later in the day. A cold front is forecast to pass through north-central Colorado Tuesday night, and along with the cooler temperatures comes snowfall that will be a bit fluffier and lower density. Moderate to sometimes heavy snowfall is again expected overnight before it becomes more showery during the day Wednesday, with another 5-10” expected above 9000′. Notably, the Yampa Valley may also see some accumulating snowfall of several inches by Wednesday, May Day, morning.

Clearly, this is an impressive spring storm, and might yield around 2” of liquid or liquid equivalent through Wednesday afternoon, which water managers and emergency personnel will surely be watching closely. Furthermore, travel over the passes will likely be difficult at times through the storm, especially Monday and Tuesday nights when the heaviest precipitation is expected.

The active weather then becomes much quieter after Wednesday, with much warmer temperatures and a dry day forecast for Thursday. Weak cool fronts pass to our north around Friday and again mid-weekend, though at this point they are not expected to bring much more than a slight cool down and possibly some showers.

Active weather week ahead

Thursday, April 25, 2019

After a weak cool front passed through the Steamboat Springs area last night, this mostly sunny Thursday afternoon is currently seeing temperatures around our average of 57 F. However, the beautiful and quiet weather this past week will change starting on Friday as several storms pass near or over our area through the next week.

Ahead of a cold storm currently spinning in the Gulf of Alaska, some energy and moisture moving through the storm will drag a cool front through our area on Friday afternoon or evening that will be stronger than the one last night. Winds will increase first from the west during the day Friday and eventually northwest after the front passes and temperatures cool. Being springtime, we can expect some possibly strong thunderstorms during the late afternoon and early evening that may be accompanied by some small hail and gusty winds, along with some snow at the highest elevations.

Showers may linger into Saturday morning before a transient ridge of shallow high pressure builds ahead of the advancing Gulf of Alaska storm., bringing mostly sunny skies and pleasant temperatures near our average.

The active weather resumes on Sunday, perhaps early in the day, as we see some showers ahead of the cold front associated with the storm to our west that is forecast to pass through our area later Sunday. We should see accumulating snowfall on Mt. Werner along with snowflakes in the Yampa Valley overnight as the storm moves through.

Following the cold front, a complicated weather pattern ensues as not only do we have a very moist leftover storm currently off the coast of southern California taking aim on our area, but an additional Gulf of Alaska storm that is colder and stronger than the previous one.

The end result is a somewhat stationary front that is draped near our area for most of the work week separating the cold and moist air to our north and northwest with the warm and very wet air to our southwest. Monday will start quite cool and showery, though temperatures moderate during the day as the warm storm approaches and passes near our area around Monday night or early Tuesday. There will likely be periods of heavy rainfall later in the day and overnight, which water managers and emergency personnel will surely be watching closely as that may contribute to flooding concerns.

Showers will lighten, but may not completely end during the rest of Tuesday before the second Gulf of Alaska storm swings through the Pacific Northwest and travels across the Great Basin during the day. Winds will once again increase from the west ahead of another good cold front timed currently timed for Wednesday.

The unsettled weather looks to continue for the end of the work week and the following weekend as additional storms of varying strength are forecast to pass near our area.

Another miss from incoming storm

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Skies have cleared this Easter Sunday afternoon after a line of light showers passed through Steamboat Springs earlier in the day. Monday will see another good chance of afternoon showers before the weather turns much quieter for the rest of the work week and the following weekend.

Currently, the southern portion of a split storm is spinning west of our area in the Great Basin. Some energy and moisture that ejected out ahead of the storm passed over our area earlier in the afternoon and was responsible for some light showers.

The northern part of the split storm will drag a cool front through some of Colorado tonight and tomorrow, though the southwest flow ahead of the storm to our west is limiting its effects to areas east of us. We may have another round of showers later today, and again Monday afternoon as the storm sinks to our southwest before moving eastward across the Mexican border, but significant weather will be limited to southern Colorado and areas south.

The weather turns quiet and seasonably warm with high temperatures above our average of 55 F behind the storm as a ridge of high pressure begins to build over the West. Several weak storms will travel across the northern U.S. from Wednesday through Friday, and we may see brief cooling and afternoon showers if the storms are close enough to graze our area.

The ridge of high pressure is forecast to strengthen a bit for the first half of the weekend which will reduce the threat of showers. Meanwhile, a warm Pacific storm is forecast to approach and cross the West Coast at some point during the weekend, though weather forecast models disagree on the timing. Shower chances will increase when this storm moves near our area later in the weekend or early next week.

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