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Next strong storm from Friday afternoon through Saturday

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Mostly sunny skies prevail over Steamboat Springs this Thanksgiving morning. Our next storm is currently affecting the southern West Coast and the Great Basin, and will bring a round of snows and cold temperatures from Friday afternoon through Saturday. Except for the possibility of some higher elevation snow showers on Tuesday, quiet weather is expected for the rest of the upcoming week until the next storm around Thursday.

An expansive storm currently located off the coast of central California will move inland today and across the Great Basin on Friday. Temperatures have warmed in the dry southerly flow ahead of the storm, though we should see increasing clouds later today and overnight as the storm approaches.

Snows look to hold off through Friday morning as the storm has slowed a bit from my earlier forecast. A strong cold front associated with the storm will pass through our area in the early afternoon on Friday, turning our winds from the southwest to the west and bringing a period of moderate to heavy snow showers and sharply colder temperatures. Snows should become steadier by later in the day and overnight before decreasing during the day Saturday and ending by Saturday night. Winds will turn from westerly to northwesterly Friday night and increase, making travel difficult from Friday afternoon through most of Saturday.

I would expect 6-12” of snowfall on the cold Saturday morning snow report, with 1-4” of that occurring during Friday afternoon. We could see some Steamboat Magic between report time and ski time Saturday morning as moderate to heavy snow showers in breezy to windy northwest flow are expected in the morning before decreasing through the day and ending around Saturday night. We could see another 3-6” during the day Saturday which would be reported Sunday morning.

Sunday morning will start cold again, though temperatures should rise by the afternoon, especially at the higher elevations, as a transient ridge of high pressure moves over our area behind the departing storm.

Meanwhile, our next weather-maker, currently south of the Aleutian Islands, will split on Monday as it moves through the Gulf of Alaska. While the southern part of the split warms and moistens well off the coast of California early in the work week, the northern part of the storm races across the northern Rockies and grazes our area on Tuesday. Weather forecast models have trended weaker for our area, with only a brief period of light, high-elevation snow showers now expected during the day Tuesday.

By Wednesday, an upstream Pacific storm moves the loitering southern piece of the grazing Tuesday storm eastward across the Great Basin, bringing increasing clouds later Wednesday and the possibility of relatively warm and dense accumulating snows on Thursday. There is uncertainty with respect to the track of the storm, however, and our snow amounts will depend on the eventual proximity of the storm. Stay tuned to my next weather narrative on Sunday for the latest on this warm storm.

Weather forecast models agree that a ridge of high pressure moves through our area as we head into the following weekend, ahead of the next storm which may affect us by late in the weekend.

Two Thanksgiving week storms on Monday and Friday

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Steamboat Springs area is experiencing our second bluebird day in a row this Sunday morning ahead of a couple of significant storms expected later on Monday and around the Friday after Thanksgiving. Travel will likely be difficult during the storms, especially from Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon and again on Friday and Saturday. But outdoor enthusiasts may be wallowing in over two feet of new snow from these storms by next Sunday if they evolve as currently predicted.

A compact and strengthening storm that is forecast to cross the West Coast tonight will bring a good shot of cold air and snow to our area from Monday afternoon through Tuesday afternoon. While we may see snowflakes Monday morning in advance of the storm, snows should intensify when the strong cold front passes through in the afternoon or early evening. Snowfall rates of an inch per hour or more will make travel quite difficult through early Tuesday before snows taper off during the day. I would expect 6-12” of snow on the Tuesday morning ski report, with an additional 1-4” during the day Tuesday as snows turn more showery under noticeably cold wintertime temperatures.

Meanwhile, another incoming Pacific storm made stronger by vigorous mixing with cold western Canadian air will travel down the West Coast on Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day before forming a large eddy cutoff from the main jet stream. While weather forecast models agree on its slow movement through the Great Basin on Friday, details are more nebulous. Models have trended a bit slower, bringing another round of moderate to heavy snows to our area on Friday and into Saturday, and fortuitously making Wednesday and most of Thanksgiving Day a good time for travel.

The center of the storm is currently forecast to pass nearly directly overhead later on Friday, with snows increasing earlier in the day and becoming moderate to heavy by later Friday and Friday night. Additionally, very cold temperatures even colder than we will experience on this coming Tuesday will follow behind the storm for Saturday and Sunday. Snow amounts will likely be significant from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon, which is when they are expected to end, with a preliminary guess of over a foot possible at mid-mountain, and more at the top of Mt. Werner. Stay tuned to my Thanksgiving Day weather narrative for the latest on this strong second storm.

Stormy weather window opens today

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We have light rain in the town of Steamboat Springs this Thursday afternoon and light snow at and above the 9000′ elevation of mid-mountain. Rain should turn to snow later today as some cool air filters in from the north, and intermittent periods of light to perhaps moderate snow will continue through the day Friday before temperatures warm and skies mostly clear for the weekend. But the winter weather returns on Monday and looks to persist through Thanksgiving week, with a short break currently advertised for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

The current precipitation is courtesy of an old storm from near Baja that was forced over Colorado by an upstream storm currently located in southern California. The California storm itself represents the southern part of a Pacific storm that split yesterday as it crossed the West Coast, and a cool front associated with the northern part of this split will drop snow levels to the mountain base by tonight even as snows briefly end. While we could see 2-5” of accumulation at the top of Mt. Werner by Thursday morning, totals will be closer to 1-4” at mid-mountain and likely less than an inch, if at all, in town.

While the first storm is forecast to be east of our area tonight, the California storm moves into the Great Basin on Thursday and elongates back westward as it moves eastward, creating unsettled conditions over our area that will last through Friday. Energy ejecting out of the Great Basin storm looks to bring a period of better snows at all elevations around Thursday morning, with snow showers ending for a brief time in the afternoon. But light and intermittent snow showers will begin again in the evening and last through Friday evening as the Great Basin storm moves over Colorado. I would expect an additional 1-4” to be reported on the Friday morning ski report.

Even though showers will continue during the day Friday, additional accumulations will be scant before dry air overruns our area for the weekend. There may be some clouds around on Saturday due to trapped low-level moisture, and on Sunday due to a grazing disturbance in northwest flow, but a pleasant weekend with some new snow will greet the commemoration of Steamboat’s new gondola.

Attention then turns to a stronger and colder storm that will affect our area starting later Monday and lasting through Tuesday, with significant accumulations likely. And while a break is currently advertised for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the stormy weather window stays open as another significant storm of some sort looks to bring an additional round of snow for Thanksgiving Day, with much colder temperatures and unsettled weather persisting through the following weekend. I should have a much better idea of how this all unfolds on my next twice-weekly weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Nice before unsettled weather begins midweek

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Temperatures are already several degrees above our average of 40 F at the noon hour this sunny Sunday, and other than some clouds later today and tonight, clear skies and warm days will prevail through Tuesday. A couple of storms will affect our area from later Wednesday through Friday, and possibly into Saturday, before dry weather is advertised for the end of the weekend and the beginning of the next work week.

Part of yesterday’s weak storm was left behind near the Baja Peninsula, and this will spin undisturbed under a ridge of high pressure over the West for a couple of days. Meanwhile, a weak disturbance moving along the ridge of high pressure in northwest flow will increase moisture over northern Colorado tonight and early Monday, leading to some clouds and perhaps some high elevation snow flurries.

Behind the disturbance sunny skies will prevail for a gorgeous late-fall Monday and Tuesday, with warm daytime temperatures in the low fifties on Monday and high fifties on Tuesday.

A complex storm will travel over the West starting by midweek as a Pacific storm traveling across the Gulf of Alaska mixes with some cool western Canadian air and splits as it crosses the Pacific Northwest coast on Tuesday. The southern part of the storm will travel south along the West Coast and dislodge the old Baja storm to the northeast, bringing it across the Desert Southwest on Wednesday. Additionally, the bulk of the northern part of the storm sweeps across the northern Rockies and brings a cool front near northern Colorado later on Wednesday.

While we usually don’t do well with these southern storms unless they pass directly overhead, the proximity of the cool front makes for an uncertain forecast. Currently, light showers by Wednesday afternoon look to start as rain but turn to snow and become heavier by the evening and overnight as the cool front stalls near our area. Storm evolution and snow amounts are uncertain enough that I will defer guessing at this time, though at this point I expect that my usual Thursday afternoon forecast will be moved up a day and I will include guesses in that weather narrative.

Meanwhile, the storm that dislodged the Baja storm will itself be forced eastward near our area on Thursday by another incoming Pacific storm. Our weather will remain unsettled in the proximity of this storm, and weather forecast models are struggling with the speed and evolution of the eastward movement. The European ECMWF is currently forecasting a more elongated storm and slower movement that would keep cool and showery weather around into Saturday, while the American GFS clears us out on Friday.

In any event warmer and drier weather returns to our area behind the storm as a ridge of high pressure rebuilds over the West. This looks to persist through the weekend and into the following Monday before another storm that should be considerably colder is forecast to impact our area around the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Slight chance of precipitation mid-weekend with a better chance midweek

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Another seasonably warm and sunny day is gracing the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday afternoon, with the current temperature of 49 F seven degrees above our average of 42 F. Similar weather is expected for the upcoming week, briefly interrupted later Saturday with a slight chance of precipitation. However chances for precipitation become much greater starting midweek.

The ridge of high pressure that has taken up residence over the West Coast these past two weeks is finally on the move, thanks to an incoming Pacific storm system that strengthened in the Gulf of Alaska. We’ll see another warm and mostly sunny day on Friday before clouds increase for Saturday ahead of the storm that is forecast to pass over our area during the day.

As alluded to in last Sunday’s weather narrative, the storm will split with some energy dropping into the Baja area and the bulk of the storm traveling across the northern Rockies and grazing us on Saturday. The best chance of snow showers will be during the day Saturday at the higher elevations when the cold front passes, with meager accumulations around an inch at best. There may be raindrops in town, though the cool air behind the front should turn any liquid into snowflakes by later in the day along with breezy northwest winds.

The sun will return for Sunday, though we may see some increasing clouds later in the day as a weak impulse in the northwest flow passes by.

After a chilly start to Monday morning, more sunny skies and a warming airmass should allow temperatures to once again reach around five to ten degrees above average which will persist through most of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, another Pacific storm drops southward along the West Coast by midweek and forces the loitering storm around Baja northeastward and toward or over our area around midweek. Weather forecast models always struggle with identifying the track and strength of these interacting storms, especially when they are cut off from the main jet stream, but currently it looks like a good chance of warm precipitation around midweek or soon after, followed by a better chance for snow around the end of the work week as the stronger and colder upstream storm is forecast to move near or over our area.

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7 July 2020

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