Not record setting but still cold in Steamboat ahead of snow-filled week
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While those in Denver woke up to record-setting cold, minus 12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service — the Continental Divide shielded Steamboat Springs and most of the Western Slope from the brunt of the arctic chill.
The low temperature in Steamboat on Monday morning was minus 6 degrees, slightly colder than the low of minus 5 degrees seen Sunday. While cold, these temperatures don’t come close to Steamboat’s coldest moments.
In January 1913, it was minus 54 degrees, 48 degrees colder than Monday morning.
“That is an arctic system that came through the Plains, and the Continental Divide forms a nice barrier,” said Norv Larson, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “Since cold air is dense, it stays at the surface, and that wall of mountains keeps that colder air on their side.”
Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website snowalarm.com, said with this particular storm, the cold air is concentrated at lower elevations, making it hard for that air to make it over the mountains.
Still, it is pretty cold in Steamboat.
“Yesterday was just a frigid day up on the mountain; we had falling temperatures in the afternoon,” Weissbluth said, adding that temperatures had dropped from 7 degrees at noon to 0 degrees around 4 p.m. “That is quite cold, but not quite as cold as what we are seeing on the Front Range.”
1. -54 on Jan. 7, 1913
2. -50 on Jan. 12, 1963
3. -48 on Feb. 10, 1933
4. -46 on Jan. 13, 1963
5. -44 on Feb. 1, 1985
5. -44 on Feb. 1, 1951
5. -44 on Feb. 18, 1942
5. -44 on Jan. 22, 1937
5. -44 on Jan. 20, 1922
5. -44 on Dec. 18, 1909
(Source: National Weather Service)
The temperature in Steamboat is expected to remain below average through most of the week until a storm Friday pushes the cold back east. Thursday is likely to be the coldest of the week, with a current high of 23 degrees forecast.
The week looks to continue padding the snowpack with Thursday being the only clear day, with at least some snowfall expected on the other days.
The snow is expected to start falling Monday afternoon and continue until Wednesday, the strongest of that occurring Monday night into Tuesday.
“It never quite ends,” Larson said. “It is kind of a persistent northwest flow with moisture attached, and as a result, we do end up with some pretty persistent snow.”
This has prompted the National Weather Service to issue several winter weather advisories for the Elkhead and Park mountains, as well as the Flat Tops. Another advisory is for Rabbit Ears Pass, which could see 5 to 10 inches of snow with wind gusts as high as 40 mph. The advisory expires Tuesday morning.
By the Tuesday morning report, Weissbluth said he expects about 4 to 8 inches of new snow. He anticipates another 2 to 5 inches during the day Tuesday and an additional 1 to 4 inches that night.
“Wednesday morning will probably have similar amounts in 24 hours compared to Tuesday morning,” Weissbluth said.
Snow showers will continue Wednesday before more cold air moves in Thursday, leading to a clear and cold day. It could start snowing again by Friday morning, though models are still a bit uncertain how strong that storm will be.
The models also show another storm coming through Saturday as well, which Weissbluth reckons will be the stronger of the two. As for exactly how strong either storm will be, it is still too early to predict.
“There is just so much inconsistency at this point that it is changing too much, but it does look like Saturday will be stronger than Friday,” Weissbluth said.
The longer-term outlook for the Yampa Valley shows a lot of snow in it, as there is still an active weather pattern over the area. Weissbluth said he sees storms all the way into March.
“It does look like we may have a couple of days break next week, but the storm track resumes,” he said. “We’re in a really good pattern, and it looks to stay for the foreseeable future.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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