Sunday, February 27, 2022
Bluebird skies are over the Steamboat Springs area late this Sunday morning with temperatures in the mid-teens in town and almost twenty degrees near the top of Mt. Werner. Expect some gorgeous springlike weather for most of the work week, which coincides nicely with the beginning of meteorological spring on Tuesday, March 1. But the winter break will be brief as much of the West will be back to cool and unsettled weather by the weekend.
A ridge of high pressure moving eastward over the West has allowed sunny skies to appear over our area starting yesterday even as temperatures remained quite cold. And after another frigid start to the morning with a low of -7 F at the Bob Adams airport and -14 F at the SnowAlarm weather station near the base of the mountain, temperatures in town will warm into the upper twenties today, which is still almost ten degrees below our average of 36 F. Mountain-top temperatures are currently ahead of the valley, though, rising from the low of 3 F observed at midnight to the current 19 F.
The arctic air mass that brought the bitterly cold weather that has been over our area most of the last week is being modified by increased surface heating thanks to the sun’s position higher in the sky as it moves towards the Equator from the southern hemisphere. So we should see warming temperatures each day, with high temperatures near average on Monday, near forty degrees on Tuesday, and the mid-forties on Wednesday and Thursday. There may be some passing clouds as some Pacific moisture is carried through the ridge of high pressure, though those will have little effect on high temperatures.
Meanwhile, a storm currently located in the Eastern Pacific between Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands is forecast to move eastward and cross the West Coast around Thursday, with another one behind it forecast to take a more northerly track and mix with some cold air over western Canada. The end result will be a period of unsettled weather moving toward our area for the weekend, with at least the first storm warmer and wetter than what we have experienced this past week.
And for what it’s worth, the longer-range weather forecasting models may have this unsettled pattern persisting into mid-March, with storms possible every several days. So enjoy the springlike start to the month, and stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday where I’ll have a better idea of whether the storm is on track and precipitation starts during the day Friday or Friday night, and how much snow may accumulate through next weekend. And note that due to a prior commitment, the narrative will be published by Thursday evening rather than the afternoon.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Another frigid day is over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday noon with 11 F at the Bob Adams Airport and -3 F near the top of Mt. Werner with peeks of sun in the Yampa Valley. The arctic air mass that brought the bitterly cold temperatures will maintain its grip over our area through Saturday as the final surge of cold air moves through on Friday, accompanied by another round of light snow. Temperatures will warm a bit on Saturday as the sun reappears, though stronger warming will hold off until Sunday under sunny skies.
Currently, a ridge of high pressure just off the West Coast has directed waves of Pacific energy around its periphery this week, allowing them to mix with bitterly cold air over western Canada before they descended into the Great Basin. A final wave in this series is forecast to move though tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll see another round of light snowfall from tonight through Friday which should leave 2-5” at the mid-mountain measuring stake by Friday night.
But the big story are the very cold temperatures, and after a -12 F low temperature on the upper mountain last night, high temperatures there will struggle to reach above zero today. They will only warm by around five degrees on Friday, and even with the sun appearing on Saturday, high temperatures may still be mired in the upper single digits.
Likewise in the Yampa Valley, high temperatures in the teens on Friday will remain around twenty degrees below our average high of 35 F, with temperatures warming into the twenties on Saturday and around average on Sunday under mostly sunny skies.
But with the return of clear skies, morning temperature inversions will plague the valley, and if skies clear by Saturday morning, we could see low temperatures around -10 F, which is also around twenty degrees below our average of 9 F, or even colder in the favored low-lying areas. But that looks to be the coldest morning of the weekend as clouds will help insulate the surface on Friday morning, and by Sunday morning the air mass will have warmed sufficiently to keep low temperatures in the positive single digits.
Lots of sun and warming temperatures are on tap for most of the rest of the work week before another storm approaches our area around next weekend. There is weather forecast model disagreement on whether the storm arrives as soon as Friday, or the weekend, or possibly just after, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon to see if the sunny and warm work week weather forecast persists into the following weekend.
Sunday, February 20, 2022
Bluebird skies and warm temperatures in the upper thirties at the Bob Adams airport and upper twenties near the top of Mt. Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Sunday mid-afternoon. Soak up all the sun you can today as a large and complex storm forecast to develop over the western U.S. will bring winter weather back to our area starting on Washington’s Birthday and lasting through the work week.
Currently, an expansive ridge of high pressure sits over the Gulf of Alaska while a deep vortex of cold air remains anchored over Hudson Bay and extends westward across most of Canada. The storm of interest has already traveled over the top of the ridge and is currently moving south along the Pacific Northwest coast. A large chunk of arctic air that is currently splitting away from the vortex over Hudson Bay is forecast to mix with the storm and move across the Great Basin on Monday even as the area of low pressure over the West is reinforced by additional Pacific energy traveling over the top of the ridge.
The end result is a complex storm system that includes several moving pieces, with small differences in timing or strength of these pieces possibly leading to large differences in snowfall, even though much colder weather with periods of snow are almost certain this work week.
With that disclaimer in mind, the latest forecast has the arctic front on our Wyoming doorstep by Monday morning with pieces of the leading storm moving over the arctic boundary to our north where moderate to sometimes heavy snowfall will be focused. Winds will be quite breezy from the southwest ahead of the front tonight into Monday, with the winds forecast to decrease as the arctic front passes around midnight on Monday.
Weather forecast models have generally slowed the front over the past few cycles as the storm to our west intensified, with snowfall now expected by Monday afternoon. The southward progress of the front may be stalled or even reversed later Monday depending upon the strength of the southwest winds ahead of the storm, so there is a possibility of the afternoon snow ending for a short time Monday evening before markedly increasing again after midnight.
Temperatures will plummet behind the front by early Tuesday morning, with low temperatures in the single digits below zero at all elevations and 6-12” of snow expected on the morning mid-mountain report at the Steamboat Ski Resort. Snowfall rates should markedly decrease on Tuesday as the leading storm passes and the area of low pressure to our west is reinvigorated by another wave of Pacific energy that will take the same path as the first into the Great Basin.
Energy is forecast to eject out of the new Great Basin storm later Tuesday and Wednesday before it elongates to the south and passes over Colorado by Thursday morning. While the central and especially the southern mountains are forecast to see the greatest accumulations from this part of the storm, snowfall amounts over our area are more uncertain, with weather forecast models wavering on the northward extent of the snowfall. We could see another 6-12” of snowfall between Tuesday and Wednesday nights if the storm pieces align.
While snow is forecast to briefly end on Thursday, a final wave of Pacific energy is forecast to travel over the ridge of high pressure to our west and bring another round of snowfall on Friday. However, this storm will differ from the earlier week storms as the ridge of high pressure is forecast to move east by Thursday, directing the storm over our area from the northwest rather than the southwest. We often do quite well in this favorable northwest flow, but there is a lot of weather to get through between now and then. So stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see how this final storm in the series is looking.
Thursday, February 17, 2022
Temperatures of 25 F at the Bob Adams airport and 6 F near the top of Mt Werner are over the Steamboat Springs area this Thursday mid-afternoon. While the low elevations see some sun behind the storm yesterday, clouds dominate the upper reaches of the Steamboat Ski Resort. Temperatures will be warmer on Friday with some clouds and even some showers at the higher elevations and periods of sun in the valley. More warming and sunny skies are forecast for Saturday with a similarly warm Sunday marking the transition to a stormy weather pattern starting around George Washington’s Birthday.
The Steamboat Ski Area reported 9” at mid-mountain and 13” up top on the morning ski report, with all but 1” at mid and 5” up top occurring during a stormy Wednesday. There is still some moisture around behind the storm in the northwest flow that is funneled between a broad ridge of high pressure centered over the Gulf of Alaska and a trough of low pressure extending from a vortex of cold air centered over Hudson Bay southwestward to Baja, so our area will be susceptible to clouds and showers, especially at the higher elevations, for tonight and Friday.
A storm by the Dateline is forecast to briefly flatten the Gulf of Alaska ridge of high pressure and cross the Vancouver coast late in the weekend. Part of that ridge of high pressure will move overhead on Saturday and the beginning of Sunday ahead of the storm, bringing sunny skies and warmer temperatures, with high temperatures in the valley around 5 degrees above our average of 33 F.
But behind the transient ridge, the Vancouver storm is forecast to mix with a lobe of cold air spinning around the Hudson Bay vortex and move into the western Great Basin by Sunday night. The details are vague at this point, but the large and cold storm looks to be reinforced by waves of energy ejecting out of a developing storm currently off the coast of Japan. The end result is a possibly long lasting period of winter weather that is currently forecast to start around George Washington’s Birthday and last through at least some of the work week.
There are a lot of details that need to be ironed out by the various weather forecast models in the coming days, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Sunday afternoon where I’ll discuss the evolving storm and have some snowfall guesses.
Sunday, February 13, 2022
Temperatures have warmed into the mid-teens at the Bob Adams airport and 21 F near the top of Mt. Werner under bluebird skies this Sunday noon. Monday will be another gorgeous day while Tuesday will see increasing clouds and breezes ahead of a complex storm system that should be close enough to bring a good chance of light to possibly moderate snow on Wednesday. Snow may hang on for Thursday, or not, before the weather clears heading into the long Washington’s Birthday weekend.
Currently, a compact storm is located just off the coast of British Columbia while a much broader storm is located near the Dateline. The first storm is forecast to cross the Pacific Northwest coast on Monday and mix with some cold air over western Canada as it moves southward along the Seirra Nevada mountain range, and be quickly followed by some energy that had earlier been ejected from the Dateline storm.
So we have two storms that will interact to some degree, with both incorporating some cold air from western Canada. The amount of cold air mixed into each storm and their interaction will determine the precipitation chances over our area, with forecast uncertainty high due these factors.
Ahead of the storms, expect another beautiful day on Monday with high temperatures in town a bit above our average of 31 F. Tuesday will be another relatively warm day that should be mostly sunny with increasing clouds late in the day and increasing breezes first from the west and then the southwest as the first storm moves southeastward into southern Nevada.
The latest weather forecast model have trended lower with our snow amounts, but right now I would guess accumulating snow starts sometime around or before noon on Wednesday, when the bulk of the first storm passes south of our area, and Wednesday night when the bulk of the second storm passes first to our west and then our south. Total accumulations might be in the 3-6” range by the Thursday morning ski report, though they could less or more depending upon the eventual track of the two storms.
Warming and drying commences sometime on Thursday and continues into the start of the long Washington’s Birthday weekend. However, an unsettled weather pattern may begin around the end of the weekend or soon after as that large storm by the Dateline moves east and possibly vanquishes the persistent ridge of high pressure around the West Coast, opening the door to a much wetter pattern. Weather forecast models always struggle with large-scale pattern changes, and they are currently waffling around that scenario, so stay tuned to my next regularly scheduled weather narrative on Thursday afternoon to see if we can end the month with a snowy period.