Steamboat likely to wake up with snow Monday, as temps take an early week plunge
The expected low temperature Monday night into Tuesday is 22 degrees, likely ending the season for any backyard gardens.
The Yampa Valley could wake up to snowflakes, as high elevations will probably get a second dose of snow so far this season, though it likely won’t stick around very long.
An initial front of the storm will move through Sunday evening, likely starting as rain. This will be followed by a secondary surge that will be much colder starting around midnight, which could bring snow flurries until the early morning.
“I’m thinking snowflakes, maybe down to the valley floor,” said Mike Weissbluth, local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com.
He said he would expect a couple of inches at high elevations like on top of Mount Werner, but even that would probably melt before midweek. The storm is coming from the Bearing Sea, which has more cold air and sea ice in it this year, which has led Weissbluth to have an optimistic outlook for the ski season just over two months before it is set to start.
“This storm came from the Bering Sea and mixed with cold air from the North Pole region,” Weissbluth said. “That is why it is so cold.”
This storm will bring temperatures far below the average high of 70 degrees the Yampa Valley typically sees this time of year. The National Weather Service is forecasting a high temperature for Monday of just 56 degrees, with a low temperature for later that night near 22 degrees.
“That is around 15 degrees below average, which is significant,” Weissbluth said. “We get another dry push of cold air Monday night, and that’s going to be with clear skies so we’re probably looking at the low 20s.”
The National Weather Service has issued a freeze watch for Monday night for Routt County, including in low lying valleys, and as far west as Craig. Colton said this means meteorologists expect there to be widespread areas that see temperatures drop below freezing for more than three hours.
“Usually, what we’re looking for is 28 degrees or colder for a season ending freeze,” said Jeff Colton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “This could really bring an end to a lot of the outdoor gardens that people have growing.”
Colton said on average, Steamboat Springs has its first night of colder than 28 degrees — its first “hard freeze” — around Thursday. While colder than average, it is not unusual to have a freeze at this point in the year, he said.
After cooler, slightly below-average temperatures expected Tuesday, a system of high pressure sets up over the area, keeping skies relatively clear for the remainder of the week. This will help things warm up, as well with seasonal temperatures returning by Wednesday.
“It is going to start warming back up pretty quick,” Colton said. “It is just kind of a hiccup — a brief reminder that winter is on its way — then we’ll bounce back into some nice fall weather.”
It should stay relatively calm for the rest of the week, with long range models seeing a storm currently in the Gulf of Alaska that could come this way but could also miss the area, Weissbluth said. Currently, models look like this storm forms an eddy that would impact Steamboat around the start of next week, though it could change.
The weather pattern is changing from summer to winter right now, which Weissbluth said will likely continue until mid-November, when the winter season really arrives.
As this transition continues, he assumes snow that falls in September or early October will melt before winter truly arrives, where as snow that falls toward the end of October has a chance to stick.
“I like to look at how long does the snow stay on the trail if we get significant snowfall,” Weissbluth said. “For me, I’m looking at how it effects mountain biking. Big snow in mid-October will probably end the mountain biking season, but before then, we’re probably still okay.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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