Storm Friday followed by a springtime Pineapple Express this weekend

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A couple of tough-to-forecast storms will affect the weather in Steamboat Springs through the weekend. For today, partly sunny skies will yield to thicker clouds in advance of the first storm moving across our area in favorable northwest flow. Snow showers should start around midnight above mid-mountain, though the relatively warm starting temperatures could bring rain at the base.

Cooler air moves in through Friday morning, and this will likely bring snow showers to the base and difficult travel conditions. The warm temperatures mean snow density will be higher and snow amounts lower than during the winter. I would guess 2-4” by the Friday morning report and another 2-4” before noon, with some of that contributing to Steamboat Magic where accumulations occur between report time and ski time.

The atmosphere will destabilize in the afternoon due to warming surface temperatures, and this will increase the chance of showers and possibly bring a rumble of thunder Friday afternoon and evening, where another 2-4” of localized snow could fall under the stronger showers.

Any breaks in precipitation will be short-lived as moisture increases and temperatures warm ahead of the second storm. This one has formed in the subtropics around Hawaii and will bring an anomalously wet and warm air mass through the Great Basin. This event in the past was euphemistically referred to as a Pineapple Express due to the long and relatively narrow fetch of moisture streaming into the storm from the Hawaii area, but now is more generally referred to as an Atmospheric River by meteorologists (and now, perhaps the media). Interestingly, the Grand Junction forecast office mentioned that this Atmospheric River is estimated be holding as much water as 25 Mississippi Rivers!

So the Steamboat Springs area will see snow showers changing to rain showers Saturday morning, first at the base and then extending to perhaps the top of Mt. Werner by the afternoon and evening as the rain becomes moderate to heavy at times.

Cooler air follows sometime between midnight on Saturday and Sunday morning, first changing the rain to snow at the higher elevations before we see snow at the base by around report time. The amount of snow for the Sunday morning report will depend on when the cool front arrives, but right now I would guess 3-6” of very dense snow at mid-mountain.

Because the storm stretches as it crosses the Great Basin, we will see the snow showers decrease in intensity during the day Sunday before they pick up again Sunday night as the remainder of the storm approaches our area. I’ll guess at 1-4” of snow during the day Sunday and another 3-6” of fluffier snow overnight for the Monday morning report.

Snow showers will likely hold on as they taper off during the day Monday, with another inch or two possible.

Even though we have a lot of weather to get through before next week, dry air is forecast to overspread much of the west by Tuesday, bringing warm springtime temperatures and sunshine. A storm that was forecast to possibly affect our area around midweek looks to have gone away in the weather forecast models, so Wednesday may now end up being like Tuesday.

However, the sun will not hang around for long as another potent storm, this one having some colder air, crosses the West Coast around midweek. Showers are advertised for Thursday afternoon in breezy southwest flow ahead of more significant snows currently forecast for around Friday.

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Snow chances Monday night, Friday and the weekend

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mostly sunny skies and breezy winds are left behind the quick moving storm that brought an inch to the Steamboat Ski area early this Easter morning, about a day later than my last forecast. This weather will persist into the first half of Monday before a cold and compact storm currently crossing the Pacific Northwest coast affects our weather by late Monday.

While the storm will bring a good cold front through northern Colorado with a period of moderate to heavy snow, moisture is sparse which will limit our accumulations. While me may see some showers develop ahead of the front by Monday afternoon, the bulk of the 2-5” of snow I expect should fall between sunset and midnight on Monday.

Tuesday will start quite chilly, but temperatures should warm under mostly sunny skies.

Weak passing waves in westerly flow will bring some clouds to our area for later Wednesday and Thursday, with the chance of some showers on Thursday.

Pacific energy and moisture associated with another storm, this one warmer than the last, is forecast to move over our area on Friday and may bring rain at the lower elevations and snow at the higher elevations. Weather prediction models currently disagree on the strength of the storm, but the American GFS is currently stronger and brings more precipitation to the area.

Regardless of the strength of the storm, weather models agree a ridge of high pressure quickly translates over our area on Saturday bringing warming and drying for at least the early part of the day.

Meanwhile, a large and strong Pacific storm with good moisture and cold air crosses the West Coast early in the weekend, bringing heavy precipitation to that area before affecting our weather as soon as Saturday afternoon with some warm showers.

A weakening cold front is currently forecast to move through our region around Saturday night as the storm evolves, and significant precipitation is likely for Saturday night and Sunday, which possibly extends into the new work week.

There is considerable forecast uncertainty as to the evolution of this storm and how much cold air from western Canada eventually mixes with it, so further details will have to wait until my next forecast on Thursday.

Save your soles! As the snow disappears in the spring, you know the grating and grinding sounds you hear from your ski boots as you walk across hard surfaces can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket. Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

Several chances for snow this week

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The active spring weather in Steamboat Springs will continue this week, with chances for snow on Saturday, later Monday and possibly around midweek. These storms will first travel across the Gulf of Alaska and then mix, to varying degrees, with cold air from western Canada that is rotating around a persistent vortex of very cold air over Hudson Bay.

The amount of cold western Canadian air that mixes with the storms will eventually determine the strength of the storms as they travel near or over northern Colorado in generally northwest flow. And, as is usually the case, the weather forecast models disagree on the amount of mixing. More mixing yields stronger storms and a storm track that will be more over our area, similar to today’s storm, which ended up further west, colder and snowier than I forecast last Sunday.

So after the snow showers end this afternoon with minimal additional accumulations, a seasonably warm and pleasant Friday will be followed by our first chance of snow on Saturday. A cool front is dragged through our area early Saturday by the first passing storm, and 1-4” of snow is possible during the day.

Snow showers will end Saturday evening ahead of what is now looking like a nice Easter Sunday.

Monday will start dry, but a second storm again drags a cool front through our area later in the day. The strength and timing of the storm will likely vary with the amount of cold air eventually incorporated from western Canada, so stay tuned to my Sunday forecast for the amount of new snow expected for the Tuesday morning report.

Though Tuesday may start chilly, we should see warming and some sun that will extend into part of Wednesday.

Another storm is possible for around Thursday that may begin snow showers later Wednesday if the current timing is to be believed. But the amount of moisture associated with this storm, as well as the extent of mixing with the cold western Canadian air is very uncertain, so a forecast for that storm will have to wait.

Stop battling cold feet! I’ve used the awesome Hotronic foot warmers from their beginnings, and can honestly say that each iteration of the product is better than the last. I have the S4 custom, attached to my powerstrap so they never fall off, and my toes stay warm for my entire ski day.

Unsettled weather for this week

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A storm currently over Oregon will split as it travels across the Great Basin on this Sunday, with the southern part of the split bringing weather to southern Colorado on Tuesday and the northern part dragging a weak cool front through northern Colorado on Monday. Before that, today will see some clouds and a breezy afternoon as ejecting energy from the incoming storm travels over Steamboat Springs.

For Monday, the Steamboat Ski Area will see the possibility of up to several inches of snow during the day as the cool front moves through with a quick end to the showers by sunset or soon after.

Tuesday is looking nice as some drier air moves over our area behind the weak cool front.

Meanwhile, a modest ridge of high pressure builds over the Gulf of Alaska early in the work week, and energy traveling over and through this ridge will mix with some cool western Canadian air and bring periods of unsettled weather to northern Colorado in moist northwest flow starting Wednesday.

Snowfall chances will wax and wane with the cool air, and right now the weather forecast models have our best chances for accumulating snowfall late Tuesday night through Wednesday, and possibly again Saturday. While Steamboat is favored by moist northwest flow, our snowfall amounts will be tempered as we are on the southern fringe of the best action.

I would expect 2-5” of snowfall during Wednesday, with higher amounts further north closer to the Wyoming border.

Snow showers will decrease during Thursday before we are left with just clouds for later in the day, with the possibility of some sun on Friday.

Another surge of cooler air and snow showers is currently advertised for the weekend, perhaps as early as Saturday, as the jet stream strengthens to our north. There is a fair bit of forecast uncertainty for later that weekend and early the following week.

Save your soles! As the snow disappears in the spring, you know the grating and grinding sounds you hear from your ski boots as you walk across hard surfaces can’t be good. In fact, worn boot soles make your binding unsafe as it interferes with the boot-binding interface. Cat Tracks are a flexible protector that keeps your boot soles pristine, and adds a cushion for walking comfort. When it’s time to click into bindings, I take them off and stash them in my coat pocket. Yaktrax are similar, but I have not used them since they appear they would take up a bit more space in my jacket pocket. But you get a rocker sole that promotes a natural stride which may be worth the space sacrifice. If I did not have to carry them around all day, these would be my choice.

Warm and wet Friday ahead of next splitting storm Monday

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A ridge of high pressure rests over the spine of the Rocky Mountains today, and moisture traveling through this ridge will keep warm temperatures and clouds over the Steamboat Springs area on this Thursday. Meanwhile, a strong storm in the Gulf of Alaska has kicked what was once part of this past Monday’s 16” storm, which was loitering between Hawaii and the West Coast, eastward, bringing another round of significant precipitation to the Sierras overnight and leaving 30” at Mammoth Mountain.

The old storm will cross the Great Basin today and affect the weather over our area on Friday, validating the slower European ECMWF solution advertised in my last forecast. While temperatures will be warm enough for rain showers to the top of Mt. Werner in advance of the storm in breezy southwest flow, most of the precipitation looks to hold off until the storm moves over our area sometime between sunrise and noon on Friday and drags a weak cool front across our area.

Showers will intensify as the front moves through, becoming moderate to heavy for a time, and bringing snow showers down to the Yampa Valley floor. We do see some some moist northwest flow behind the storm for some of Friday, and that should keep snow showers going through the day at the higher elevations as they end at the lower elevations.

I don’t expect much, if any, snowfall to be reported by Friday morning, but we will see some accumulating snowfall during the day. Snowfall amounts at mid-mountain are tricky to forecast due to the warm springtime temperatures, but 2-5” of relatively dense snow there, with higher amounts at higher elevations, are possible.

The Gulf of Alaska storm moves inland over the weekend, and turns our winds back to the southwest. There is some drier air in this southwest flow, and northern Colorado will be between the driest air to our south and moistest air to our north. We should see a generally pleasant weekend with seasonable temperatures and some sun and clouds.

Meanwhile, the once promising Gulf of Alaska storm splits late in the weekend, with the southern piece staying to our west and diving southward across Nevada while the northern piece translates across the northern third of the U.S.

The end result is our area will be mostly between the storms, and Monday and Tuesday will feature a small battle between the southerly flow ahead of the storm to our south and northerly flow behind the storm to our north. While Monday looks to stay mostly dry, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday are more uncertain as the amount of energy split between the northern and southern storms will end up determining our weather.

In any case, a ridge of high pressure builds over the West Coast midweek, and this should provide a break in our active weather. However, we may still be susceptible to passing showers as storms travel down the east side of the ridge of high pressure and possibly graze our area.

Want to instantly improve your skiing? Then you’ll want progressive flex in your ski boot, and the Booster Power Strap delivers by elastically fastening together the lower leg and the ski boot. You get direct ski control so skis start turning sooner and end the turn faster.

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