Steamboat in store for a very snowy New Year, forecasters say
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A New Year’s storm could blanket the Yampa Valley with snow, though there is uncertainty about how much it will bring.
A special weather statement issued Monday, Dec. 30, by the National Weather Service in Grand Junction called for a weather pattern to bring locally heavy snowfall to the mountains and high valleys for an extended period throughout the week, with only short breaks in snowfall between storms. The cold and unsettled pattern could persist into the weekend, according to the Weather Service.
Some uncertainty remains on the exact track of these moist systems, but early indications are that most mountain passes will be impacted, especially Wednesday night and Thursday, according to the Weather Service.
Mike Weissbluth, who owns and operates local weather forecasting site snowalarm.com, is equally uncertain about the track of the storms.
“There is a lot to like about this storm; it’s cold, it’s moist, and its northwest trajectory is favorable for snow over Steamboat,” Weissbluth said. “I mentioned to some of the nice ticket-checking folks at the base of the gondola building Saturday that the storm looks too good to be true.”
But if the storm does evolve as currently predicted, he said, light snow early Wednesday, on New Year’s Day, should turn moderate to heavy by the afternoon and continue overnight.
Some forecast models of the storm indicate that 6 to 12 inches of light and fluffy snow could be reported midmountain in Steamboat Springs by Thursday morning. Snow showers would then continue into Friday with another 3 to 6 inches by Friday morning.
Frigid temperatures are expected before the snow starts to fall this week.
With dry air coming into the area late Monday, light winds and clear skies will cause temperatures to dip into the negative teens Tuesday morning. This creates what is called temperature inversion, meaning that while the mountain temperatures will start cold, near zero, they will still be warmer than the temperature at the base.
Temperatures will move into the positive teens both on the mountain and in town throughout Tuesday.
Another wave in northwest flow will keep snow showers going during the day Friday and into Saturday morning, though the atmosphere warms and stabilizes and limits the accumulations.
There is forecast uncertainty with respect to a ridge of high pressure that may briefly build over the area for part of the weekend, though weather forecast models agree on another northwesterly storm by later in the weekend or early next week.
To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.
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