Waves of snow could be headed in direction of Steamboat
November 12, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat residents aching for a chance to play in the snow were looking at an ideal weather forecast Wednesday afternoon.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for the upper Yampa Valley that calls for "waves" of natural snow alternating with brief periods of clear skies and frigid temperatures ideal for snowmaking well into next week.
The Weather Service reported the temperature on Storm Peak, at the summit of Steamboat Ski Area, was 2 degrees at noon Wednesday. But temperatures are expected to moderate Thursday and Friday as a storm brings natural snowfall to the Park Range.
Steamboat-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who manages the Web page http://www.snowalarm.com, expects Steamboat Ski Area to be covered with a fresh blanket of snow by Thursday morning.
"Significant snowfall is expected on the hill through Thursday night," he predicted. "If the mountain was open, I would expect 4-8 inches of snow on the morning report."
Weissbluth and the Weather Service concur that Northwest Colorado's weather will be influenced this weekend by a Canadian cold front that will merge with the continuing flow of moisture from the Pacific Northwest.
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Meteorologists at the Weather Service want to make a few more computer runs before they upgrade the "storm watch" to a winter storm warning, but it's pretty easy to read between the lines in their forecast for Saturday through Nov. 20: "A very active period of weather sets up as waves of energy work on moisture from the Pacific causing accumulating snowfall for the Colorado Mountains. A winter storm watch remains in effect Thursday (Nov. 13) through Friday noon for 6 to 12 inches of snow. After that, another impulse will bring more precipitation Friday night into Saturday.
"A brief lull is expected before a deep trough and cold air filters down from the north bringing another round of precipitation."
More specific to the upper Yampa Valley, Weather Service forecaster Jim Daniels wrote Wednesday that the band of weather caused by the storm front racing across the Great Basin on Thursday will produce (snow inducing) orographic lift when it slams into the Rocky Mountains and rises abruptly.
“Best coverage and intensity should be over northwest and central Colorado," Daniels added.
The Weather Service anticipates that once the storm moves through the region, below average temperatures return for Monday and Tuesday. The return of desirable snowmaking temperatures will be welcome as the urgency increases for the ski area to blow the man-made snow needed to ensure the Nov. 26 Scholarship Day opening.