Light snow expected through next week in Steamboat Springs
February 22, 2018
Forecast provided by snowalarm.com.
The active weather pattern for Steamboat Springs will continue through the middle of next week as cold air from western Canada continues to mix with incoming Pacific storms. Several storms are lined up to bring mostly light snow and more cold temperatures to our area starting Thursday afternoon and lasting through the first part of Sunday, with a small break advertised Saturday morning.
Before discussing the weather forecast, I’d like to show the temperature timeseries at Storm Peak Lab near the top of the Morningside lift from last Tuesday, when a series of cold fronts blasted through northern Colorado. The red line is the temperature, the vertical scale ranges form -20F to 20F with each tenth representing 4F, and the horizontal timescale ranges from noon on Tuesday through noon on Wednesday. The initial cold front passed through the area around 2pm Tuesday with heavy snow, dropping temperatures from 18F to 6F in minutes and leaving about 4 inches of snow on the hill through that afternoon. Cold air continued filtering in until another strong push of cold air brought the lowest temperatures of the storm of -12F around 9 p.m. I had expected another 3 to 6 inches of snow overnight with that front, but the very cold temperatures changed the snowflakes from light and fluffy dendrites to dense needles and columns. Rather than snow densities of 30:1 or 40:1, the resultant 10:1 densities meant only about an inch of snow overnight, underscoring the difficulty in predicting snow amounts. Generally, our best accumulating snowfall occurs with mountain-top temperatures between about 5F and 15F.
Back to the current forecast, energy ejecting out of a large storm dropping into the Great Basin will start snow showers over Steamboat Springs later Thursday afternoon as a weak cool front passes through tonight. I would expect 1 to 4 inches by the Friday morning report.
The Great Basin storm is pushed eastward by another incoming Pacific storm, keeping light snow showers going during the day Friday before a cold front associated with the storm increases snowfall rates for a time Friday night. I would expect another 3 to 6 inches of snow by Saturday morning before a brief break in the weather is advertised for a cold Saturday morning.
The last Pacific storm for the weekend brings another weak cold front through our area Saturday night or Sunday morning, restarting the snow showers by Saturday afternoon that last through Sunday morning. The timing of the front will determine if we get most of the expected 3 to 6 inches by report time or by later in the morning.
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Yet another Pacific storm moves southward from the Gulf of Alaska late in the weekend along the West Coast, and turns our flow to the southwest early in the work week. We should see dry weather and warming temperatures from later Sunday through at least part of Tuesday before this storm is kicked over our area by another Pacific storm entering the Gulf of Alaska. The warming ahead of the storm will allow a good cold front to pass through the area around Tuesday night or Wednesday, with more accumulating snows likely.