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Winter blast for Thursday

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The weather in Steamboat Springs this Wednesday noon is warm and mostly sunny ahead of a quick-moving and cold winter storm for Thursday. After that, moderating temperatures and some chances for showers are in our weather future for the upcoming week.

A large storm currently over northwestern North America is bringing cold temperatures and snow to the northwestern quarter of the U.S, and we should see breezy southwesterly winds and increasing clouds this afternoon ahead of the storm, with a chance for some light showers.

A strong cold front is forecast to move through our area around noon on Thursday, with periods of moderate to heavy snow along and behind the front. I would expect 3-6” of snow on the Powdercam at the top of Sunshine Peak by sunset with an additional 1-4” during the evening and overnight as showers taper off in the favorable and cold northwest flow behind the front.

Though Friday will start chilly with some snow likely on the ground in the Yampa Valley, drier air behind the storm should allow for sun during the day, though temperatures will still stay ten to fifteen degrees below our average high of 49 F.

The uncertainty regarding the weather for Saturday has fortunately decreased with the American GFS now agreeing with the more consistent European ECMWF that a ridge of high pressure will build over the eastern two thirds of the U.S. by Monday. So that will bring moderating temperatures for the weekend, though we may see some showers on Sunday as a small storm is mostly deflected to our north by that ridge.

Meanwhile, another strong storm is forecast to develop off the Pacific Northwest coast on Sunday and split. Weather forecast models agree that the bulk of the storm will form an eddy and sink slowly down the West Coast through midweek before turning inland and moving across the Desert Southwest. But some energy is forecast to eject out of the eddy early Monday as it sinks south along the West Coast, and this may bring the possibility of showers to our area later in the day.

Shower possibilities continue on Tuesday as we may see a weak cool front associated with the northern part of the split storm pass through.

It does appear we get a break from the unsettled weather on Wednesday before that Desert Southwest storm may or may not affect our area towards the end of the work week. At this point, the ECMWF is slower and further north with the storm as compared to the American GFS, though both bring the possibility of showers back to our area by later Thursday and Friday even as they keep the bulk of the storm to our south.

Several chances for precipitation this week

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Even though the Steamboat Springs area started out sunny this Sunday morning, clouds have increased early this afternoon ahead of the first of three storms moving near our area over the upcoming week. We should see chances for precipitation on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

The storm for tomorrow is currently affecting the West Coast and has split, with the warmer southern part of the split moving across the Great Basin tonight and bringing a small chance of precipitation to our area on Monday. While the best precipitation will stay to our south, there will be some chance for precipitation during the day, with only an inch or two of snow possible at the higher elevations.

Meanwhile a strong and cold storm forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast tonight will move slowly across the northern Rockies this work week. We should see partly sunny skies and breezy conditions on Tuesday as the strong storm approaches our area.

While the bulk of the storm will end up staying to our north, a cool front will be just to our north on Wednesday and may move through our area on Thursday. There may be some showers later Wednesday, more numerous to our north, and a better chance during the day Thursday when the front is forecast to pass through. While this storm looked far more promising just few days ago, it now appears precipitation amounts will be modest from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday.

Some dry air will follow the storm for a mostly sunny Friday before weather forecast models substantially disagree on the fate of a separate Pacific storm forecast to slingshot around the northern Rockies storm and affect our area on Saturday. Interestingly, the impacts from this storm will be determined by what happens upstream with another Pacific storm. The European ECMWF forecasts a stronger storm off the West Coast which builds a ridge of high pressure over the West and deflects the Saturday storm mostly to our north as compared to the the American GFS, which has a stronger storm for Saturday due to a much weaker upstream storm.

Differences between weather forecast models generally increase in the spring and fall as the hemispheric circulation pattern changes in response to the amount of solar heating of the surface, and we have large differences in the forecasts for next Saturday and the following work week. There should be better consensus in time for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

More unsettled weather for the upcoming week

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Steamboat Springs area is seeing warm, sunny and breezy conditions this Thursday noon in advance of our next storm for Friday. Unsettled weather will persist through Monday before we see a quick break on Tuesday ahead of another round of unsettled weather.

Our current nice weather is courtesy of moderate and dry southwest flow ahead of a elongated storm that extends from just off the central California coast through the Great Basin and into the Canadian Plains. A small storm currently moving across the Gulf of Alaska will push the West Coast storm across the Great Basin tonight and over our area on Friday.

We may see some rain showers in the valley early in the storm on Friday, but much colder temperatures with snowflakes down to the Yampa Valley floor are expected by the end of the day. The storm is forecast to intensify to our east, which places our area in favorable cool, moist and unstable northwest flow through Saturday. I would expect 2-5” on the Powdercam by Saturday morning, with a break early in the day before showers, some of briefly moderate intensity, leave another 1-4” up top through the afternoon and evening.

Meanwhile, that small storm is forecast to cross the central California coast Saturday night and pass over our area Monday morning. We should see another brief break in the precipitation early Sunday before showers start up again during the day Sunday and Sunday night, with another several inches expected at the top of Mt. Werner by Monday morning.

More cool and favorable northwest flow behind the storm will keep showers going on Monday with another several inches possible under the heavier cells.

Meanwhile, a large, cold and strong storm develops in the Gulf of Alaska by the end of the weekend and is forecast to slowly move across the Pacific Northwest through the work week. We should see a break in the unsettled weather Tuesday into mid-Wednesday with the stormy weather staying to our northwest before a weak wave slingshots around the large storm and brings the chance of showers by later Wednesday.

There is weather model disagreement on the evolution and track of the large Pacific Northwest storm, but they agree that some sort of cold front approaches our area on Thursday and turns into a stationary front that looks to hang around our area through the weekend and into the following work week. We can expect at least unsettled and possibly stormy weather as waves of energy ejecting out of the storm move along the front through the entire period. I hope to have a clearer picture of what we may be in store for by my next scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Unsettled weather week ahead

Sunday, March 22, 2020

I had 3” on my deck early this Sunday morning, and though the snow has currently stopped, a mix of sun and showers are expected through the rest of the afternoon. We can expect unsettled weather for the upcoming work week, with our best chances for snow from later Monday into Tuesday and near the end of the work week.

The just passed storm brought a good cold front through north-central Colorado this morning, with the Steamboat Powdercam showing 10” of snow over the last few days and 6” of that occurring this morning. In fact, the top of Sunshine Peak received 2” of snow between 5:40 am and 6:40 am when the cold front passed through. Though there are now patches of blue sky in the Yampa Valley, snow showers will redevelop this afternoon with briefly moderate snowfall rates in the heavier showers that could leave another several inches by sunset.

Another storm currently just off the central California coast will be forced eastward across our area starting Monday afternoon by yet another strong and cold storm dropping south along the West Coast from the Gulf of Alaska. We’ll likely see another 2-5” of snow from this storm between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

The weather turns less active starting later Tuesday for several days as the Gulf of Alaska storm drops south along the West Coast through midweek and weakly splits. A somewhat stationary front will extend northeastward from central California through the Great Basin and Wyoming for several days, with the cooler and stormier weather north of the front battling the warmer and drier weather south of the front. Though our area will generally be on the warmer and drier side of the front, its proximity means we will likely see some clouds and showers with minimal accumulations at times from Tuesday through Thursday.

By around Thursday, weather forecast models move the West Coast storm across the Great Basin as it further splits and weakens. It does look like there will be enough of a storm to bring modest accumulating snowfall at times from later Thursday through Friday night, though specific timing and amounts will have to wait until my next weather narrative scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Behind the late-work week storm, it looks like we will dry out for the weekend and headed into the following work week, though currently a chance of afternoon showers are forecast for both weekend days.

Storm today disappoints

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Other than some non-accumulating snowflakes, there is not much weather happening in Steamboat Springs this Thursday afternoon. There will be another chance for accumulating snowfall from this storm tonight and tomorrow, but overall this storm has been a bust for our area, even as blizzard conditions occurred over the Colorado Plains. Generally unsettled weather with some snow chances follows for the upcoming week, though the timing and amounts are uncertain.

Shorter range weather forecast modes had been insistent that moist easterly flow around a storm moving over eastern Colorado would flow over the Continental Divide and interact with a cold front to produce heavy snow for our area. The atmosphere had other ideas, and we were disappointingly left with not much other than clouds and easterly mountain top winds.

But there is a chance for some accumulating snows tonight from energy ejecting out of a disorganized storm currently over Nevada and tomorrow from showers in the cool and unstable atmosphere. We could see 2-5” overnight and another 1-4” under the heavier showers tomorrow, which is far less than I expected yesterday.

There are three additional storms that will influence our weather for the upcoming week; the one in Nevada, one in the Gulf of Alaska and one midway between Hawaii and California. All of these storms are forecast to interact in some way with one other over the upcoming week, and likely due to the paucity of observational data over the Pacific, weather forecast models disagree on the eventual track and timing of these storms.

Even the forecast for Saturday is uncertain, though at this point it looks like a mostly dry day with a chance of some showers in the afternoon. After that, our weather will be dependent upon how these storms eventually interact.

Other than generally unsettled weather with some portions of some days remaining dry, weather forecast models agree that eventually the Gulf of Alaska storm will swing inland around midweek, though whether this storm passes close to our area or stays south is unknown at this time. I hope to have more clarity for my next scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

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