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First snowfall likely for Thursday

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Brilliant sunny skies and crisp fall temperatures will continue this Sunday in Steamboat Springs behind a couple of dry cool fronts that passed though our area yesterday and early this morning. We’ll see warming temperatures and plenty of sun through at least part of Wednesday before our first winter-like storm brings sharply colder temperatures and the possibility of accumulating snow on Thursday, even in town.

An unseasonably strong and cold storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska will continue to mix with some very cold air sourced from near the North Pole as it moves toward the Pacific Northwest coast on Monday. We’ll see sunny skies through most of Wednesday as dry air stays over our area ahead of the storm, with the cool temperatures today of five to ten degrees below our average of 63 F warming to several degrees above average on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The storm is forecast to move into the Great Basin by Tuesday and across the Rocky Mountains by later Thursday. While Wednesday will start similar to the previous two days, we should see increasing clouds and breezy southwest winds by the afternoon as the storm approaches.

While the storm has always been forecast to be cold, it has trended wetter and slower in the latest weather forecast models. This adds a degree of uncertainty to the weather forecast that follows.

So as of today’s guidance, accompanying the storm will be a couple of cold fronts, with the first entering northern-central Colorado around sunset on Wednesday. This front looks to stall near our area overnight and the first half of Thursday, and will be the focus of precipitation as strong storm cells form in the very unstable atmosphere. It will cold enough for precipitation to fall as snow even in the Yampa Valley bottom, with high temperatures on Thursday expected to be twenty to twenty-five degrees below average. That’s highs in the upper thirties or lower forties!

There may even be thunder along with the snowfall, so expect locally moderate to heavy snowfall at times that might created difficult driving conditions, especially at pass level and possibly even in town. Normally the first snowfall of the season has difficulty accumulating due to the warm ground surfaces, but high snowfall rates of an inch per hour can briefly overcome that obstacle.

A secondary and colder front is forecast to pass through our area later Thursday, with temperatures falling even further and perhaps some more enhanced snowfall rates for a time. The airmass dries considerably behind the secondary front, so snowfall should turn more showery early in the evening before ending by midnight. I would expect my forecast snow amounts to change as the storm approaches, but right now there could be 3-6” in town and 6-12” at the top of Mt. Werner from this storm.

Friday will be the coldest morning since last winter if skies clear as forecast, with low temperatures fifteen or twenty degrees below our average of 28 F. So that means areas of the Yampa Valley may reach the single digits!

While the storm is east of our area on Friday, we will see warming relative to the wintry Thursday with mostly sunny skies, though temperatures will be slow to recover on Friday thanks to the very cold start to the day and the possibility of snow on the ground.

Drier air continues to infiltrate our area as temperatures warm for the weekend, with another cold morning on Saturday but temperatures warming to five to ten degrees below average during the day. Temperatures should continue to moderate for Sunday and Monday as a ridge of high pressure moves across our area.

A couple of dry cool fronts for the weekend

Thursday, October 3, 2019

After our coolest morning of the season in Steamboat Springs with a low temperature of 23 F at 7:35 am this Thursday, temperatures have dramatically warmed under bluebird skies. A couple of dry cool fronts are forecast for later Friday and Saturday for a cooler but still sunny weekend, followed by more sun and warmer temperatures for the first half of the following workweek. Around midweek, a cold and strong storm currently over the Bering Straight takes aim on our area and could bring the first snowflakes of the season to town.

Our noontime temperature was just below our at our average of 64 F, and we should see high temperatures in the low-seventies today and Friday as sunny skies prevail. A storm currently in the Pacific Northwest will clip Colorado Friday night, with a cold front forecast to blast through northern Colorado later in the afternoon or evening. We should see breezy southwest flow on Friday ahead of the front, with gusty winds turning to be from the west as the front passes and then northwest behind the front. The southern end of the storm is quite dry, so precipitation will be relegated to northern Wyoming and southern Montana.

High temperatures will fall from five to ten degrees above average on Friday to five to ten degrees below average on Saturday and Sunday. Another storm just upstream of the last has recently split just south of the Aleutian Islands, with the northern part of the storm forecast to clip our area Saturday night into Sunday morning and the southern end being left behind between the West Coast and Hawaii.

Meanwhile, a cold storm currently in eastern Siberia is forecast to travel across Alaska late in the weekend and mix with some additional cold air from near the North Pole. Ahead of this storm, expect more gorgeous and sunny weather for Monday and Tuesday with temperatures rebounding from the weekend to five to ten degrees above average again.

But enjoy this weather as that Alaska storm is forecast to bring a strong cold front through our area later Wednesday or early Thursday, accompanied by some moisture. Weather forecast models have recently trended stronger and colder with the storm, and at this point we could wake up to snow on the ground in town on Thursday morning.

While the current nice weather is forecast to return for several days after our possible first snow, that old piece of the split storm between the West Coast and Hawaii is forecast to merge with another upstream Pacific storm and possibly bring unsettled weather to the West around the following weekend.

Average temperatures and decreasing wind this week

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The windy weather expected today in the Steamboat Springs area showed up early this Sunday morning ahead of a unseasonably large and cold storm located over the northwestern quarter of the country. Clouds will be increasing this afternoon along with a chance of showers later today and overnight before dry air, decreasing wind and near-average temperatures are forecast for most of the upcoming work week.

The sprawling Pacific Northwest storm is forecast to gradually weaken over the next several days as energy ejects to the northeast out of the parent circulation. One of these waves of energy and moisture will graze our area later today and tonight, increasing clouds and precipitation chances. The warm temperatures the last few days around ten degrees above our average of 66 F will drop towards normal starting on Monday as the northwest storm moves across the northern Rockies through midweek and brings some cooler air into our region.

While the winds will diminish starting later Monday, still-breezy daytime weather will continue through Wednesday when the last part of the now-dry storm finally passes through. While the low temperatures for Monday will be around our average of 31 F, cooler low temperatures as much as five to ten degrees below average are forecast starting Tuesday and lasting through the work week, thanks to wind-free and clear nights.

The coolest day of the week will likely be Wednesday, with high temperatures several degrees below average before they rise to several degrees above average on Thursday and Friday behind the departing storm, thanks to a ridge of high pressure quickly moving across the West.

Another Pacific storm is forecast to move across the West the following weekend, though at this point it looks quite dry so the most noticeable effect will be the slight decrease in temperatures when several dry cool front moves through our area through the weekend.

Showers later Friday followed by mostly dry and windy weather

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is enjoying another quintessential Colorado early fall afternoon with temperatures in the mid-seventies and lots of sunshine. The aspen are sure taking their time this year, though the just-refreshed website feature photo shows pockets of good color at around the 9000′ level of the Steamboat Ski Area, with more uniform coverage above 9500′.

I expect rapid changes in color as nighttime temperatures more consistently drop below freezing, but the leaves may have a tough time staying attached to the trees as winds will substantially increase through the next week ahead of an unseasonably strong and cold storm forecast to be located around the Pacific Northwest this weekend.

We’ll see warm temperatures close to ten degrees above our average of 67 F today with some clouds associated with a disturbance well to our southwest in southern Arizona. However, a cold front currently in Montana will move south tonight and tomorrow as the northwest storm intensifies, crossing our doorstep in the late afternoon or early evening on Friday. Increasing clouds, westerly winds and a good chance of showers will result.

Whereas my last weather narrative considered cool and showery weather possible behind the front, it now looks like the northwest storm will be strong enough so that the southwesterly flow ahead of the storm will force the cold front to retreat north of our area by Saturday. So the strong and moist westerly winds from later Friday will stay strong, but will dry and turn to be from the southwest on Saturday.

A lobe of energy is forecast to eject from the strong and sprawling storm on Sunday, and this will be bring even stronger southwest winds along with some moisture. The details will depend upon the exact track of the ejecting energy, but it may be close enough to bring a chance of showers back to our area on Sunday.

After that, a building ridge of high pressure over the southeastern U.S. bulges to the northwest and deflects the additional energy ejecting from the storm to the north of our area. Much drier air in still windy southwest flow is forecast for the rest of the work week, with mostly average or a bit below average temperatures, with the coolest day either Tuesday or Wednesday when the remaining part of the storm finally brushes by.

Another storm from the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to approach the West Coast around next weekend, but we have lots of weather to get through before guessing how that storm will affect our area.

Dry and breezy with possible end of week showers

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area awoke to a chilly 28 F low temperature early this Sunday morning, but brilliant sunny skies are quickly raising temperatures toward our average high of 70 F. The jet stream is forecast to be just to our north most of this work week, so dry and breezy weather is expected until a large storm develops to our west and brings the chance of unsettled weather around Friday.

The Autumnal Equinox (from the Latin and literally meaning equal night. i.e. twelve hours of day and night across the planet) occurs at 1:50 am MDT early Monday morning, and coincidentally this is when our average high temperature drops below 70 F until next year.

And we will see high temperatures around that average and low temperatures a bit below our average of 33 F for most of the work week as the current storm over the West Coast splits early in the work week, as best captured by last Thursday’s European ECMWF forecast. While the southern part of the split forms and eddy over the Desert Southwest that may be drawn near our area by another incoming Pacific storm around Friday, the northern part is absorbed into the fast-moving jet stream just to our north. So while the weather will remain dry, we will likely see breezy afternoons as the northern jet stream encroaches on northern Colorado.

Enjoy the pleasant and seasonable weather as it looks to turn unsettled by Friday, with storminess possible into the weekend. The culprit is a Pacific storm that is forecast to travel across the Gulf of Alaska and mix with some quite cold air from western Canada and the Hudson Bay region. As this storm travels down the west coast of North America and broadens early in the work week, it dislodges the Desert Southwest eddy eastward by Thursday.

While most of the Deseret Southwest eddy will remain to our south, moisture will increase over our area as the storm moves eastward across northern New Mexico. Additionally, cold air associated with the West Coast storm washes over the northwestern quarter of the U.S., creating a frontal boundary separating the cool air to the north and the warm air to the south that will focus precipitation.

There is enough uncertainty with how this all occurs that the forecast for our area will undoubtedly change by my next weather narrative on Thursday, but right now I would expect unsettled weather on Friday turning cooler and stormier on Saturday as the frontal boundary approaches our area. Eventually, weather forecast models agree the West Coast storm will move inland and over our area around the following midweek, with unsettled weather persisting until after that storm passes through.

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