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Strong cold front for later Monday

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Pleasant early afternoon temperatures around 70 F and mostly cloudy skies followed a light shower that passed through the Steamboat Springs area soon after noon on this Sunday. A strong cold front is expected later Monday, followed by a weakening cool front for later Tuesday, both of which may be accompanied with some precipitation. Mostly sunny skies return by midweek along with hot temperatures ahead of what would be our first monsoonal moisture surge of the season timed for Independence Day weekend.

The current unsettled weather is courtesy of the southern part of a storm that split earlier in the week and is moving through our area.

A strong cold front associated with a robust storm currently over the Great Basin (the Salt Lake City forecast office is predicting snow down to 8000′ tonight!) will pass through our area later Monday afternoon or evening. Mostly sunny skies, winds from the southwest and hot temperatures five to ten degrees above our average high of 78 F are expected ahead of the cold front, which may be accompanied by showers.

Much cooler temperatures five to ten degrees below average are expected Tuesday ahead of a weakening cool front for Tuesday afternoon or evening. While we should see sunny skies for some of Tuesday, clouds will increase and we may see a chance for some showers as the front passes through.

This may be the last cold front of this season as a ridge of high pressure to our east encroaches on our area. Mostly sunny skies are expected for Wednesday and Thursday, with temperatures warming from near average on Wednesday to five to ten degrees above average on Thursday.

As the ridge of high pressure continues to move westward, the North American Monsoon gets started, with moisture from the south tickling our area Thursday night and becoming more substantial by Friday. The air mass under the ridge of high pressure will be quite warm, though our temperatures will be moderated by the cloudier weather expected with the monsoon. Though daily widespread heavy rain is unlikely as discussed here, we’ll see a good chance of showers starting on Friday and lasting through the Independence Day weekend in the presence of increased atmospheric moisture.

While another Gulf of Alaska storm develops over that weekend, the summer ridge of high pressure over our area will keep the storm at bay, deflecting it across the northern Rockies. And further storms expected to move across the Gulf of Alaska after the weekend will follow a similar path. The main effect of these storm for our area will be to possibly interrupt the monsoonal moisture plume at times, though for what its worth, current longer-term forecasts have a reasonable stream of moisture lasting through at least mid-July.

I’ll have more details about the weather for Independence Day weekend in my next weather narrative scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Showers possible starting today and lasting through the weekend

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Temperatures in the upper seventies and mostly sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area early this Thursday afternoon. There is a lot of interesting weather to our west, with some of that weather moving close enough to our area to produce chances for showers starting today and lasting through the weekend. Expect increasingly windy weather ahead of a significant cool down early next week as a strong but dry cold front passes through, followed by a return to hot temperatures as we head into the long Fourth of July weekend.

A storm to our west is in the process of splitting, with the northern portion of the split moving across our area later today and the southern part of the split moving over our area on Sunday. Starting this afternoon, we’ll have the possibility of afternoon and evening showers for the four days it takes the pieces of the storm to move across our area, with Friday having the best chance of showers. And Friday will likely be the coolest day of this four day period, with high temperatures close to our average of 77 F; otherwise expect hot temperatures in the eighties.

Meanwhile, a storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska is mixing with the cold air from the North Pole, and is expected to form an impressively cold and strong storm in the Pacific Northwest by the end of the weekend. We should see the effects from this storm as soon as Sunday as winds increase, first from the west and then from the southwest as we see our last day with shower chances for around a week.

The storm is forecast to rotate through the Great Basin, with the business end of the storm being deflected to our northwest by a strong summer ridge of high pressure to our east. While it currently looks like we will see no precipitation from this system, we will see much cooler air as a couple of cool fronts move through.

There is weather forecast model uncertainty with respect to the timing of these fronts, but right now it looks like they may pass through later Monday and again later Tuesday, accompanied with lighter winds from the west. Most noticeable will be the cooler temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday five to ten degrees below average.

Temperatures will quickly rebound starting Thursday as the ridge of high pressure to our east moves westward and over our area through the long Fourth of July weekend. While that weekend is currently looking hot and dry, I see the first indications this summer of the North American Monsoon becoming established.

Generally, a monsoon is defined as a seasonal reversal of winds, and for us it means upper level winds from the south carrying moisture originally from the Gulf of Mexico toward our area. While that forecast is highly uncertain at this point, it is encouraging to see the monsoon signal in the weather forecast models at about the time we expect it to start. We’ll see if this signal is still present in my next weather narrative scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Warming temperatures through the work week

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Skies have grown cloudy this Sunday afternoon ahead of weak grazing cool front passing through the Steamboat Springs area. While town will likely remain dry today with comfortable temperatures in the seventies, the best chance of showers over the coming work week will be later today and this evening at the higher elevations to our north. Much warmer temperatures are forecast for most of the work week before chances of showers and cooler temperatures return as we head into next weekend.

Currently, two cold storms are sitting over the Gulf of Alaska and just northwest of the Great Lakes. Energy rotating around the Great Lakes storm will drag a couple of cool fronts through our area today and tomorrow, with today being the most likely period for precipitation near our area. High temperatures today will be near our average of of 76 F, while tomorrow will several degrees warmer and drier.

Another bump up in temperatures and decrease in moisture is expected for a pleasant Tuesday as the eastward movement of the Gulf of Alaska storm allow a transient ridge of high pressure to build over the West. Expect sunny skies for Wednesday and Thursday with much warmer temperatures ten degrees or so above average.

A fair bit of uncertainty exists for Friday as weather forecast models disagree on how close the Gulf of Alaska storm gets to our area and how strong it will be. While this storm once looked promising, current trends shear the storm apart as it crosses the Great Basin on Thursday. At this point, there appears to be a good chance of at least part of the storm, accompanied with some moisture, to pass over our area around Friday.

Drier and warmer weather is expected to return for the following weekend as another cold storm crosses the Gulf of Alaska. Weather forecast models are struggling with the evolution of that storm, and it is not clear if it stays mostly offshore or moves inland. More details about the possible cool front near the end of the work week as well as the next storm will be available by my next weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Cool front for Friday may bring some showers

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sunny skies and delightfully cool temperatures near the mid-sixties are observed early this Thursday afternoon in Steamboat Springs. A cool front early Friday will bring our best chance for showers this week before temperatures warm a bit for the weekend and more for the following work week.

A storm complex that was over over the northwestern quarter of the country this past work week is forecast to grudgingly move east over the weekend. Our current cool temperatures are courtesy of ejecting waves of energy from a large and cold storm in the Gulf of Alaska that are mixing with a pool of cold air centered over the southern Canadian Plains.

The wettest and strongest of the upcoming waves will drag a cool front through our area early Friday during which we will see our best chance of showers for the upcoming week. But the chances are not that great, with at best only light showers expected along with another cool day of temperatures ten degrees or so below our average high of 75 F.

By Saturday, we should see warming temperatures in the mid-seventies under mostly sunny skies and light winds from the northwest. As is often the case with northwest flow, we will be susceptible to some afternoon showers from Sunday through Tuesday afternoons as hard-to-time waves of moisture and energy periodically eject from the Gulf of Alaska storm and mix with cool air from the southern Canadian Plains as they graze our area.

The last mostly dry cool front ejected from the Gulf of Alaska storm is expected on Monday before the parent storm is forecast to move toward our area by the end of work week. Ahead of that storm, soaring temperatures around ten or so degrees above average and sunny skies are expected for Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly Thursday as a transient ridge of high pressure builds over the West.

There is a fair bit of weather forecast uncertainty as to how close the eastward moving Gulf of Alaska storm gets to our area by the end of the work week. The usually weaker European ECMWF, which incidentally has trended toward the stronger American GFS these past few months, is now stronger than its American counterpart.

There is quite a difference in the resultant weather outcomes, with the European ECMWF introducing cool and showery weather starting around Friday and lasting through the weekend. The American GFS, on the other hand, is much weaker, drier and further north with the storm, only bringing a dry and grazing cool front through our area on Friday before warming temperatures and sunny skies return for the weekend.

There is plenty of time for these models to change their tune, and I’ll have more information on how the Gulf of Alaska storm evolves for my next weather narrative scheduled on Sunday afternoon.

Mostly dry and breezy work week ahead

Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Steamboat Springs area is currently seeing sunny skies, early afternoon temperatures in the low-seventies, and breezy westerly winds on this Sunday. Winds will persist as temperatures rise early in the work week before a cool front knocks them down by midweek. While we may see a modicum of moisture starting Wednesday and lasting through the first half of the weekend, significant precipitation, or even wetting rain, looks unlikely as additional dry cool fronts graze our area.

A complex of storms currently in the northwestern quarter of the country has pushed the ridge of high pressure that was over our area last week eastward. The lead storm in this complex brought a dry cool front through our area last night and is responsible for the winds and our pleasant temperature near our average of 73 F today.

Another storm from the Gulf of Alaska is forecast to make landfall along the Pacific Northwest coast on Tuesday, and the breezy southwesterly flow ahead of the storm will allow temperatures to rise to ten degrees or so above average on Monday and Tuesday.

The storm is forecast to rotate to our north through the storm complex, allowing additional cool western Canadian air to move into the northwestern quarter of the U.S. We should see several cool fronts in generally west to northwest flow through the the rest of the work week and the weekend that will keep our temperatures in the seventies.

While pleasant temperatures are likely, significant precipitation is not, with the weather forecast models disagreeing on the days with the best chances of showers. There may be a chance of some meager showers on Wednesday afternoon according to the more optimistic European ECMWF, while the American GFS is more optimistic for still-meager afternoon and evening showers on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

We may have to wait for the dry northwesterly to westerly flow to cease for any real chance of precipitation. This is forecast to occur during the following work week as the complex of storms in the northwestern quarter of the country grudgingly moves to our east. This will then allow some sort of ridge of high pressure to build over the west, forcing subtropical moisture northward in the southerly or southwesterly flow on the west side of the ridge. It is too early to know how much moisture may return to our area, but I hope to have a better idea by my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

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7 July 2020

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