Bull elk bed down Thursday morning on a hillside along Hilltop Parkway in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Bull elk bed down Thursday morning on a hillside along Hilltop Parkway in Steamboat Springs.

November marks 3rd straight month of above-average moisture in Steamboat Springs

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— The snow that was falling in Steamboat Springs early Thursday afternoon was expected to continue through the night with the potential for significant accumulation.

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Steamboat Springs-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth wrote in a forecast Wednesday that cold polar air descending from the north and moist air spinning off a low coming in from the coast of Southern California could overlap in Northwest Colorado, producing snow that would become drier late in the storm.

“As the polar jet sags south over our area, an overrunning situation occurs where the warm and moist subtropical jet aloft moves over the cold air near the ground brought south by the polar jet.” Weissbluth explained on his website www.snowalarm.com.

But Weissbluth said some uncertainty is inherent in the convergence of the two systems.

“Fronts like these tend to become stationary for a period of time around our area as the southern push of the cold air is balanced by the northern push of the warmer air,” Weissbluth wrote. “Given the above uncertainty, I might expect 6-12 inches on the hill by Friday morning, with latter periods producing light and fluffy low water content powder.”

At 2:40 p.m. Thursday, all eastbound commercial vehicles on U.S. Highway 40 at Rabbit Ears Pass were being required by the Colorado Department of Transportation to put chains on their tires, and it was snowing heavily in Steamboat.

After a partly cloudy afternoon Friday, the National Weather Service expects a lighter burst of snow activity Saturday before a drier pattern sets in through Wednesday, the scheduled opening of Steamboat Ski Area. Daily highs beginning Sunday could reach 40 degrees, but there should be temperatures cold enough for snowmaking overnight.

Art Judson, an unofficial observer for the National Weather Service, reported Thursday that Steamboat is poised to complete an autumn trifecta the likes of which it has not seen for more than 25 years.

With more than a week to go in November, snowfall in the city exceeded the average for the month.

“The average is 25.4, and today we have 25.5” as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Judson wrote.

All of that snow translated into abundant moisture, and according to the National Climatic Data Center, Steamboat’s 2.37 inches of precipitation as of Thursday morning exceeded the November average of 2.24 inches. That marks the third straight month here with above average precipitation. Not since 1985 has Steamboat recorded above-average precipitation in September, October and November, Judson reported.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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