Mild storms Tuesday, Thursday add to above average Yampa Valley snowpack
Temperatures dipped below zero in Steamboat Springs the morning of Sunday, Jan. 23, as an inversion trapped cold air low in the valley, while higher elevations like the top of Mount Werner have been significantly warmer.
The inversion will be briefly broken to start the week, as clouds start to gather throughout the day Monday, Jan. 24, ahead of a storm grazing the area Tuesday.
“It looks to pass around us on Tuesday,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com. “I say around because this is going to be another splitting storm.”
As the storm comes moves in from the Pacific Northwest, Weissbluth said it would break apart, with the piece headed toward the Yampa Valley carrying little moisture.
Brianna Bealo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said much of the snowfall from this storm will be concentrated around the Continental Divide, and Steamboat would likely get about 2 inches. Weissbluth said midmountain could get between 2 and 5 inches.
Another storm comes toward Northwest Colorado on Thursday, though this one looks “less impressive” than what is expected Tuesday, Jan. 25, Weissbluth said. He said probably 1 to 4 inches at midmountain.
“It’s kind of the same thing (as the Tuesday storm),” Bealo said. “A quick inch or two, mainly along the divide.”
A ridge of high pressure builds in after the storm passes, and the inversion will reestablish, keeping morning temps in the single digits for the end of the week.
While snowfall totals lag behind 30-year averages in Steamboat, the snowpack in the Yampa, White and Little Snake River Basin overall is above the median, according to data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The amount of snow in the basin is equivalent to 12.4 inches of water, about an inch above the median.
Each of the basins in Colorado except the Upper Rio Grande and Arkansas are above the median for this point in the winter.
The southern and eastern parts of Routt County actually are not considered to be under drought conditions, as the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies it as simply “abnormally dry.”
While next weekend looks like it will by sunny and dry, Bealo and Weissbluth said it looks like there is a pattern change coming. Weissbluth said there have been signs of the shift for about a week now, but it likely is still several days away.
“Models really struggle with these pattern changes that are over large geographical areas,” Weissbluth said. “It looks like in about 10 days, we’re going to be turning on the snow again, possibly similar to the pattern we had starting around Christmas.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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