Pair of storms to bring rain to Yampa Valley early in the week, snow at high elevations Thursday |

Pair of storms to bring rain to Yampa Valley early in the week, snow at high elevations Thursday

Snow blends with autumn colors on Rabbit Ears Pass.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

A pair of storm systems will bring rain to the Yampa Valley this week, likely dropping a couple of inches of snow on the top of Mount Werner by Thursday morning.

There is a smaller storm currently over Arizona that is moving up across the Four Corners on Tuesday and a larger system in the Pacific Northwest that originated in the Gulf of Alaska.

“We have this big system moving in from the Pacific, which is going to push a smaller system out of the Four Corners across us early this week,” said Dennis Phillips, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “You’ll get some on the back end of that on Tuesday, but the bigger shot will be when the main system moves through midweek.”

Monday will continue the valley’s current run of mild fall weather and looks to have a slightly above average high temperature of 77 degrees. The rain is expected to start sometime Tuesday afternoon, and chances continue through Thursday.

“When that main system arrives from the Pacific Northwest Tuesday night or early Wednesday through that Thursday, that is when you guys will see the best precipitation chances,” Phillips said.

Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website, said clouds would likely start moving in Monday ahead of the storm moving in from the south.

“The Pacific Northwest storm is forecast to enter the Great Basin on Tuesday and send a cold front through our area on Wednesday,” Weissbluth wrote in his Sunday weather narrative. “Between the subtropical moisture carried over our area by the (Arizona) eddy and the cold front with the approaching storm, expect high chances for widespread showers by Tuesday night.”

Rain chances lessen but persist through a showery Wednesday, which is shaping up to be about five to 10 degrees below average, Weissbluth said.

The coldest part of the storm will arrive later Wednesday, after much of the moisture has already moved through. Still, Weissbluth said he anticipates areas above 9,000 feet will see a limited amount of snow.

“There should be up to an inch or two on the upper third of Mount Werner,” Weissbluth said.

Phillips said there is currently a La Nina watch, which means meteorologists are monitoring Pacific Ocean water temperatures to see what if any effect it will have on Colorado’s winter weather. La Nina is the opposite phase of El Nino.

“In a broad sense, La Nina is probably more favorable for the northern mountains of Colorado and El Nino more favorable for the southern mountains,” Phillips said.

Phillips said this cycle is often hard to read in Colorado because it is in between where it generally has the most obvious effects. While La Nina generally means it would shape up to be a better snow year for the north part of the state than the south, it doesn’t mean it will be an above average winter.

The long-range outlook for the months of December, January and February from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center says the northern half of the Western Slope has the same chances it will have an above average winter as it does a below average one.

“The chances are below normal for precipitation in the desert southwest and in southwest Colorado,” Phillips said. “Central and northern Colorado are right in the middle there. There are equal chances, and it could go either way.”

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