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Near average temperatures and afternoon storm chances this week

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Rain showers have again overspread the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon along with chilly temperatures in the mid-fifties, though the thermometer did reach 65 F around 2 pm when we had some clearing before the first round of showers arrived. Showers will continue today before their chances diminish on a warmer Monday that should see temperatures in the seventies. These temperatures will persist for most of the rest of the work week along with increased shower chances that will last through the Independence Day weekend.

The wetter weather that arrived last Thursday and the cooler weather that followed on Friday and hung around this weekend is a welcome change from the record-breaking hot and dry weather of last week. My weather station recorded over eight tenths of an inch in the last three days, and I have already received another tenth of an inch so far today, with more expected this afternoon and evening.

Currently a strong ridge of high pressure centered over the Pacific Northwest is flanked by cold areas of low pressure, with the one to our east extending from Hudson Bay all the way to the Desert Southwest. The low pressure area is forecast to split on Monday, with some of the southern part of the split forming an eddy that is forecast to spin in the Great Basin starting on Tuesday. While we will see only the slightest chance of showers on a warmer Monday with high temperatures near our average of 78 F, shower chances increase again on Tuesday as the counter-clockwise rotation of air around the eddy to our west brings moist air from the south overhead.

The location of the eddy south of the area of high pressure over the Pacific Northwest makes forecasting its location through the work week difficult since there is really nothing to force the storm to move. Additionally, more cold air flowing into the low pressure area to our east may be incorporated into the eddy and keep it in our proximity. The eddy is currently forecast to move overhead around Thursday or Friday as incoming Pacific energy weakens and moves pieces of the Pacific Northwest high pressure eastward, so expect good shower chances to continue on Wednesday ahead of the storm and increase later in the work week as the storm eventually moves overhead.

Weather forecast models have the moisture sticking around after the eddy eventually departs as light southerly winds reinforce the existing moisture and warm temperatures into the eighties for the weekend. These southerly winds may indicate the beginning of the North American monsoon, though it is not clear if the southerly flow is from an area of high pressure off the East Coast near Bermuda expanding westward or an approaching area of low pressure traveling across the Pacific.

Enjoy the coming week, which will seem like the ‘old days’, with around average temperatures and mostly sunny mornings giving way to chances for afternoon showers. And I’ll have more details on the evolution of that Great Basin eddy and the weather for the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend on my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Highest rain chances from today through Saturday

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Clouds and smoke from the Muddy Slide wildfire south of Stagecoach are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday morning. We’ll see cooler temperatures than during the past couple of weeks today as the clouds block the sun, along with a welcome chance of showers, though that looks higher on an even cooler Friday. A complicated storm system may keep the cool temperatures with a chance of showers around on Saturday and perhaps even on Sunday before drier air and warmer temperatures return to start the next work week.

Before we get to the forecast, the recent data from the long term climate weather station behind the high school has finally been published, and we broke three records for the date on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week when high temperatures of 91 F were reached on Tuesday and Wednesday and 93 F on Thursday. The State Climatologist did indicate that the station is designed for observing the long term climate, and data may not always be published in a timely fashion for a variety of reasons, but eventually it becomes available.

But the record high temperatures are gone for now as moisture has streamed northward from Mexico and is over our area. The moisture arrived in a very interesting and circuitous way; that dry cool front on Sunday was strong enough to push into Mexico and cause some strong thunderstorms on Monday and Tuesday that injected substantial moisture into the atmosphere, and a low pressure area off the coast of California moved close enough to the coast yesterday so that the southerly and southwesterly winds ahead of the storm carried that Mexican moisture over our area.

Regardless how it got here, there will be the best chance of wetting rains today than we’ve had in a long time as most of what falls from the cloud will make it to the ground without evaporating in a no-longer dry lower atmosphere. But the precipitation will still be showery and hit or miss, though the chances of getting wet are higher than even. And due to energy continuing to eject out of the low pressure area overnight, there may be some precipitation tonight.

Our weather turns even more interesting tomorrow as a storm from the northern latitudes brings a cool front through our area tomorrow, perhaps as early as the morning. So chances for rain should be higher tomorrow as showers may focus along and behind the front, and temperatures will be cooler than today, likely staying below our average high of 77 F. And similar to the night before, there may be overnight showers as we head into Saturday. And in more good news as indicated by the smoke plume model on this website, the front looks to push the smoke currently over our area to the south for much improved air quality.

The last weather narrative talked about the possibility of the low pressure area off the California coast possibly merging with the northern latitude storm bringing our cool front tomorrow and the dissent among the weather forecast models about that scenario. As is often the case when models disagree, a compromise solution looks likely to occur that keeps the cool and unsettled weather around for Saturday as the storms partially merge. For those keeping score, I have to give kudos to the American GFS for latching onto the idea well ahead of the European ECMWF, even if it was too aggressive.

Some of the cooler and unsettled weather may hang around on Sunday, though to a far lesser extent than Saturday, and warmer and drier weather is forecast for the start of the work week. After that, forecasts have the high pressure over Bermuda that usually occurs around now (the Bermuda High) nosing into the southeast and areas to the west, and the clockwise flow around this feature may draw moisture from well to our south northward in a classic monsoonal pattern, though that signal is tenuous in the past few models runs and it is not clear how far north the moisture may be carried.

Let’s hope the cooler and wetter weather decreases the activity of the Muddy Slide wildfire, as well as the Sylvan wildfire south of Eagle, and stay tuned for my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon.

Windy and dry cool front tonight followed by midweek warming and then shower chances

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Temperatures in the upper seventies and mostly sunny skies are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday noon. A cold front will bring some clouds and wind later today, but unfortunately precipitation looks to be confined to our east. A cooler Monday will be followed by warming temperatures through midweek before a complex storm system brings cooler temperatures and a chance of showers for the end of the work week and possibly into the weekend.

A cold front currently moving through Wyoming will graze our area tonight around when the summer solstice occurs at 9:31 pm, with the current breezes increasing ahead of and along the front. Areas to our east will see precipitation, but the main part of the storm is just too far east to bring showers to our area.

After a chilly Monday morning, we will see high temperatures cool to around our average of 75 F for a beautiful day. After another chilly start to the day on Tuesday, temperatures quickly warm into the eighties, with warmer overnight lows expected on Wednesday with similar high temperatures.

The weather turns far more interesting starting Thursday as a storm system from the northern latitudes partially merges with an area of low pressure currently off the coast of California. Weather forecast models agree moisture increases during the day and shower chances increase as the first parts of the storm pass through our area.

They also agree that Friday will be our best day for showers as the main part of the storm passes through, though disagree on how long the storm will hang around. The European ECMWF merges less of the storms and has dry weather for the weekend while the American GFS merges more of the storms and keeps unsettled weather over our area for at least the first half of the weekend and possibly longer.

Enjoy the beautiful start to the work week, and I’ll have an update on the evolution of the incoming storm in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon.

Reprieve from the heat starts later Sunday

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Temperatures in the Steamboat Springs area are already in the mid-eighties early this Thursday afternoon, and we may again threaten the high temperature record for this day of 89 F set in 1940. Some clouds will be around on Friday and Saturday that will temper the high temperatures a bit before a cool front for later Sunday will bring a chance for some showers and relief from the heat. Though high temperatures will drop markedly towards our average of 74 F on Monday, they will return to around ten degrees above average for the rest of the work week.

Unseasonably cold air over the Northeast and a flat ridge of high pressure over most of the rest of the country is continuing our current heat wave. In fact on Tuesday, we recorded the hottest temperature for that date of 91 F, which shattered the old record of 86 F recorded in 1964. The official temperature from the long term climate weather station behind the High School did not report a high temperature on Wednesday as of this weather forecast, though I suspect the 89 F record recorded in 1893 was at least threatened, And the same record temperature for today recorded in 1940 will also likely be under assault.

Some moisture moving through the ridge of high pressure over our area from a series of grazing storms well to our north will bring at least some clouds to our area on Friday and Saturday that will moderate the excessive heat by several degrees. While there may be some showers around in the afternoon and evenings, they will likely produce just gusty erratic winds as any precipitation falling from the cloud will evaporate in the very dry atmosphere below the cloud. Unfortunately for our worsening wildfire conditions, there may also be some dry lightening.

A storm currently traveling around a localized area of high pressure over Alaska will drag some cold air from near the North Pole southward and graze our area later Sunday, according the the American GFS, or a bit later than that according the the European ECMWF. At the very least, this will knock the high temperatures back around fifteen degrees and be accompanied with some wind. Weather forecast models have trended wetter with the front, and we may actually see some wetting rains along and behind the front, though that is uncertain at this time.

We should be in store for a much cooler Monday, with chilly morning temperatures that will also occur on Tuesday. And while the ridge of high pressure is expected to build to our west during the work week, its strength will be mitigated by cold air still pouring south from the North Pole. So while our weather will be hot and dry for the remainder of the work week, it won’t be as hot as this week with highs closer to ten degrees above average.

There is uncertainty for late in the work week and the weekend as weather forecast models agree that another storm from northern Canada will drop southward and mix with an area of low pressure that is forecast to form off the coast of California, but disagree on exactly how that will happen. But as of now, there is at least a chance that our weather will turn cooler and wetter around next weekend.

Stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon when I should have more clarity on our precipitation potential later that day and the possible change in the weather for next weekend.

Record heat likely on Tuesday

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Temperatures have already reached the eighty degree mark in Steamboat Springs under cloudless skies this Sunday noon, on their way towards ninety. Expect upper eighties to low nineties and lots of sun for much of the work week before a storm passing well to our north brings some clouds and slightly cooler temperatures in the eighties for the end of the work week and next weekend. Chances for beneficial precipitation are near nil for the upcoming week, though longer range weather forecast models offer some hope in the extended period.

A ridge of high pressure sandwiched between strong and cold storms east of Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Alaska is centered over the Rocky Mountains, and is responsible for our current hot and dry weather. Our last relatively cool day was on Friday when a dry cool front grazed our area, and brought our high temperature for the day down to 77 F, which was still 5 F above our average of 72 F for that date. Interestingly, the low temperature for Friday morning was 32 F, around 5 F below average, but combined with the high temperature of 85 F the day before meant that we had a 53 F temperature swing between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning!

I hope you enjoyed the exceedingly pleasant and cool-feeling Friday since the heat returns in a big way for the upcoming week. The current hot temperatures fifteen degrees above average grow only hotter during the first half of the work week as hot air ahead of the Gulf of Alaska storm amplifies the ridge of high pressure over the Rocky Mountains and brings even warmer temperatures close to twenty degrees above average to our area. While high temperature records may be threatened on Monday (92 in 1936) and Wednesday (89 F in 1893), they almost certainly be broken on Tuesday when 86 F was recorded in 1974.

The Gulf of Alaska storm is forecast to be pushed inland by upstream Pacific energy during the first half of the work week and battle the ridge of high pressure over the Rocky Mountains. The end result will be a storm that eventually travels through the central Canadian Plains and a squashed ridge of high pressure over our area. This allows for some increased breezes from the west and the gradual introduction of mid and high level moisture from the Pacific through next weekend that should eventually produce afternoon clouds over our area that will temper the afternoon heat.

Unfortunately, it appears the low levels of the atmosphere will remain relatively dry and any precipitation produced by the clouds will likely result in erratic gusty winds and possibe dry lightening depending upon the stability of the atmosphere. So be aware that the wildfire threat will be increasing over the next week.

Additional Pacific storms follow starting late next weekend, and these will likely trek closer to our area thanks to the weakened high pressure that is left over the Rocky Mountains. While a weather forecast over a week away is tenuous at best, we may see some better chances for wetting rains early in the following work week and possibly again later in the week as another Pacific storm may develop over the Pacific Northwest and allow moisture to our south to move over our area as winds turn to be from the southwest ahead of the storm.

I’ll review any new temperature records set in Steamboat Springs in my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon as well as have more details on the several Pacific storms that may affect our area for the weekend and the following work week.

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1 July 2021

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