Warming temperatures and increasing winds ahead of cold front later Saturday

Thursday, May 5, 2022

After a rainy start to the day, skies have cleared and temperatures have warmed into the mid-fifties in the town of Steamboat Springs this Thursday mid-afternoon. Temperatures will further warm into the sixties on Friday and Saturday as winds increase from the west and southwest ahead of a grazing cold front timed for Saturday afternoon or evening. Temperatures will be knocked back by about ten degrees on Sunday, though it is not clear if we see a couple more grazing cool fronts on Sunday and Monday nights.

Though town saw rain showers this morning, snow was observed on Mt. Werner, with two day storm totals of around 5” at mid-mountain and 7.5” up top. While this has not significantly added to our snowpack, it has at least arrested the seasonal decline for a couple of days, with the Yampa-White-Little Snake basin showing the current snow water equivalent as being 89% of the 30 year running mean.

An expansive area of low pressure currently over the entire Gulf of Alaska is forecast to evolve through the weekend as cold air from the north and northwest interacts with approaching Pacific moisture and energy. Weather forecast models have trended deeper and slower with the bulk movement of the low pressure area; indeed the mid-weekend storm that looked far more promising only a few days ago is now forecast to stay mostly to our west through the weekend.

Many waves of moisture will move through this area of low pressure through the following week, with some strengthening the system in place while others move through. One wave currently crossing the Pacific Northwest will move to our north on Friday and have no affect on our weather, but the next one looks to drag a grazing cold front through northern Colorado later Saturday afternoon or evening. Ahead of that, high temperatures warm into the sixties on Friday and Saturday, around five degrees or so above our average of 60 F, with mostly sunny skies on Friday giving way to a mix of sun and clouds on Saturday.

Winds from the west will pick up on Saturday as the cold front approaches, with the best chance of showers centered around Saturday night. It is not clear if some of the cold air filters in Saturday afternoon or waits for the evening, but the system should be warm enough for snow accumulations of 1-4” to be confined to the higher elevations by Sunday morning.

A couple more waves are forecast to pass through the system on Sunday and Monday nights, though it is not clear if they will be close enough to do much more than knock high temperatures back into the fifties along with a chance of some passing showers, most likely on Sunday afternoon and evening.

What seems to be clearer, however, is that the bulk of our storm to our west will stay to our west as it is reinvigorated by some cold air from Siberia during the work week. This should lead to more wind and temperatures reaching into the seventies by midweek. A large amount of uncertainty exists after then, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon for a peek at what we may see after the midweek warming.

Two storms to bring unsettled weather to start the work week

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Temperatures around sixty degrees and cloudy skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. A couple of storms moving overhead tonight and Wednesday will bring good precipitation chances to our area with a small break on Tuesday between the storms. Beautiful springtime weather should return to close out the work week and begin the weekend though another strong wintry storm looks to arrive near the end of the weekend.

Two storm will affect our weather for the first part of the work week, with the first storm currently moving through the Great Basin and the second spinning in the Gulf of Alaska. Moisture and ascent ahead of the first storm has brought the cloudy weather today, with the cold front that is currently in eastern Utah expected to move through our area soon after midnight.

This storm will be warmer than our last storms, so while we may see some snowflakes in town overnight and perhaps early in the morning, accumulating snow looks to be confined to elevations above 8000′ or so. Numerous showers, some moderate to sometimes heavy are forecast along the front, and are expected to continue more intermittently in the favorable moist and unstable northwest flow behind the departing storm through the day Monday. I would expect 1-4” at mid-mountain between midnight tonight and sunset Monday, with a bit more near the top of the Steamboat Ski Resort.

We’ll see a break from Monday night through half of Tuesday as a ridge of high pressure quickly moves through the area ahead of the next stronger and colder storm. The cold front associated with the storm looks to pass through our area Tuesday afternoon accompanied by rain showers in town and snow showers at the higher elevations.

But the storm is cold enough to switch the rain to snow in town overnight and into Wednesday morning, and we may see an inch or two of snowfall accumulate on the floor of the Yampa Valley. Accumulations will be greater at the higher elevations, with 3-6” expected at mid-mountain between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning and more likely up top. Temperatures on Wednesday will be the coldest of the week, with high temperatures in town mired in the mid-forties, around fifteen degrees below our average of 59 F.

There is some weather forecast model disagreement on exactly when precipitation will end, with the European model hanging onto snow showers through Wednesday night while the American model has the storm over by then. In any event, they agree on clearing skies for a cool Thursday followed by lots of sun and warming temperatures to finish the work week and start the weekend.

There is agreement that another wintry storm will approach our area during the weekend, though it is unclear if the inclement weather arrives by Sunday or Monday. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon where I’ll be discussing the next likely significant opportunity to add to our seasonally diminishing snowpack.

Spring storms with some snow to bookend the weekend

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Temperatures in the mid-sixties and cloudy skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon. Our chance to reach seventy degrees in the near term looks like it will be thwarted by clouds today, a couple of cold fronts set to bookend the weekend and more unsettled weather for the following work week.

Clouds ahead of a storm currently moving through the Pacific Northwest have tempered our high temperatures for today with a cold front forecast to move through our area soon after sunrise Friday. Most of the precipitation will be through early afternoon, with snowflakes in town and any minor accumulations confined to grassy surfaces. High temperatures will plummet from the mid-sixties today, about ten degrees above our average of 58 F to the mid-forties on Friday, ten to fifteen degrees below average, along with breezy winds from the northwest. A trailing wave may bring additional flurries overnight, with a total of 1-4” of snow expected by Saturday morning at mid-mountain.

A transient ridge of high pressure will briefly move overhead on Saturday behind the departing storm and ahead of the next storm which is currently in the Gulf of Alaska. Temperatures should rise into the low fifties under mostly sunny skies for a very pleasant spring day.

Our next storm should be crossing the Pacific Northwest on Saturday and is forecast to travel through the Great Basin on Sunday. Temperatures should warm toward or even above average on Sunday despite the increasing clouds ahead of the storm, though it is unclear at this time if the cold air begins filtering into our area in the afternoon or evening. Additionally, there may be rain showers associated with the cooling temperatures, though steady precipitation looks to hold off until Sunday night and Monday morning.

This storm looks similar to but stronger than the storm to start the weekend, and again we could be seeing snowflakes in town and more snow at the higher elevations which will add to our rapidly declining snowpack. And it looks like we will see another storm by midweek that will continue the unsettled weather.

Check back Sunday afternoon where I’ll have more details on the storm to close out the weekend and the next storm for midweek in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative.

Spring weather returns after a wintry weekend

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Cold temperatures in the upper thirties and snow showers mingled with peeks of sun are over the town of Steamboat Springs this Sunday mid-afternoon. Temperatures will warm about ten degrees on a still-cool Monday followed by springtime high temperatures in the sixties for the middle three days of the work week. This pleasant weather may be followed by another storm around the end of the work week.

Snow totals were impressive from the late-April wintry storm, with 5” of snow in town by early Saturday morning and two day totals of 11” at mid-mountain of the Steamboat Ski Resort, at least 12” up top (the Powdercam was obscured during the middle part of Saturday due to drifting snow covering the camera) and 20” near the summit of Buffalo Pass. Several more inches fell at and above 9000′ through this morning and early afternoon, significantly adding to our now-declining snowpack.

Monday will see temperatures warm about ten degrees from today with a chance of an inconsequential afternoon shower behind the departing wintry storm, which is forecast to bring below freezing temperatures to the upper Midwest and eventually the Northeast this week.

Springtime returns in force for the middle three days of the work week with high temperatures in the sixties, around ten degrees above our average of 57 F, and mostly sunny skies filtered by some high clouds at times. However, there may be the chance of some more inconsequential afternoon showers on Wednesday and Thursday as Pacific moisture moves inland ahead of a storm forecast to cross the West Coast on Thursday. But that storm is currently near the Aleutian Islands and weather forecast models disagree on how much moisture makes it overhead.

Enjoy the coming springtime weather this work week, and check back on Thursday afternoon to see if we see our third straight weekend storm.

Summery weather turns wintry for the weekend

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The thermometer has cracked the vaunted seventy degree mark in the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon under sunny skies with breezy winds from the southwest. Enjoy the summery weather now as a strong wintry storm will affect our area from Friday afternoon through the weekend, which is great news for our below-average snowpack.

A strong storm currently pounding the Sierras with wind and snow is forecast to move through the Great Basin on Friday and turn northeast before bringing blizzard conditions to the northern High Plains on Saturday. Winds will stay breezy from the southwest ahead of the storm through some of Friday afternoon at which point a strong cold front will bring rapidly falling temperatures and precipitation to our area. High temperatures will likely make it to five to ten degrees above our average of 55 F by early afternoon before rain showers at lower elevations and snow showers at higher elevations start by late afternoon or evening.

Snow showers could be moderate to heavy at times thanks to the unstable atmosphere, and snowfall rates over an inch per hour are possible, making travel difficult at times over Rabbit Ears Pass. And at some point overnight, any liquid precipitation in town should turn over to snow.

Winds and snow look to decrease during some of the overnight as the center of the storm passes just to our north, but are forecast to substantially increase again as the storm intensifies to our northeast. Winds over our area will then turn to be from our favorable northwest direction on the backside of the storm, and will combine with a moist and unstable air mass to bring good snowfall to all elevations during the day Saturday and most of the night, with continued difficult driving conditions over Rabbit Ears Pass.

After seeing high temperatures in the seventies today, Saturday will be quite the shock with snow on the ground and temperatures likely mired in the thirties! And like the last storm, snow accumulations will increase with elevation, with 6-12” of snowfall at mid-mountain possible between Friday evening and Sunday morning and 10-20” up top, with even town receiving another round of accumulating spring snow.

Snowfall looks to decrease but likely not stop Sunday morning, especially at the higher elevations, before trailing energy increases the intensity of the snow showers again by Sunday afternoon. Several more inches may accumulate at mid-mountain through the day and evening, with high temperatures in town barely breaching forty degrees.

The storm should be mostly over for our area by Sunday night, even as the work week starts cool thanks to the unseasonably cold air mass left behind by the departing storm. Enjoy the summery weather through early Friday afternoon, and stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll have some storm totals and discuss what is looking like a very nice work week.

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30 April 2022

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