Storm expected to bring snow to Steamboat, but not the piles of powder predicted |

Storm expected to bring snow to Steamboat, but not the piles of powder predicted

The storm over much of the West is still expected to bring some snow to Steamboat, but air from the southwest has pushed the significant snow further north.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The storm headed toward Steamboat Springs — forecasted earlier this week to bring a couple feet of snow to mountains around the Yampa Valley — appears to be a dud.

On Monday, Feb. 20, forecasters at the National Weather Service were expecting 16 to 20 inches of snow on Rabbit Ears Pass by Thursday morning, Feb. 23. While forecasters are still expecting some snow to fall over the next few days, they’ve dampened their expectations.

“(The weather model) has got a foot of snow up there, and I don’t know that it is going to come to fruition,” said Tom Renwick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “It looks like a little screw up there.”

Local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website, said the lack of snow is partially because the storm is so big and has sucked up a lot of air from the southwest, a direction that typically isn’t great for snow prospects in Steamboat.

Storms from that direction often favor southwest Colorado, which Renwick said is experiencing blizzard-like conditions. Renwick said the weather service is expecting some squall-like conditions in the Yampa Valley on Wednesday, Feb. 22, but they probably wouldn’t be prolonged.

That southwestern air also led to warm temperatures in Steamboat on Wednesday morning, with the Steamboat Springs Airport recording temperatures approaching 40 degrees just after 10 a.m. Winds also led to a weather hold for several lifts at Steamboat Resort.

“This storm is massive. … It’s over the entire West,” Weissbluth said. “Cold air is lurking just to our north and west, and it is sort of being held at bay by the strong southerly winds.”

The storm hasn’t just been a dud for Steamboat Resort, which recorded an inch of snow at mid-mountain on Wednesday morning. Jackson Hole, which has also been expecting a dump of snow, didn’t record any snowfall.

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Places farther west did well though. Park City, Utah, measured 23 inches to start the day, according to snow totals from

Weissbluth said the pattern had been setting up like a storm that happened earlier this season, where the southwest air overran the storm, meaning that the warmer air moved above the colder air in the atmosphere. That led to strong, continuous snowfall, but that overrunning is happening farther north than expected this time, which turned off the powder.

“The storm is a little stronger than forecast, the southerly winds are stronger and the overrunning is occurring farther to our north,” Weissbluth said. “The cold air is going to get here. It’s actually on our doorstep … but it’s going to come relatively quickly and we’re not going to get that sort of stationary front.”

Weissbluth said he anticipated between three and six inches of snow at mid-mountain by Thursday morning, fueled by a wave that ejected from the main storm system. That could bring colder air with it and push Thursday morning’s temperatures to near zero degrees.

After a break in snow Thursday morning, Weissbluth said he expects the snow to start again Thursday afternoon and drop another three to six inches at mid-mountain by Friday afternoon, Feb. 24.

“We’re in a southwest flow through the first part of the weekend until finally that storm (currently over the West Coast) comes across us later in the weekend,” Weissbluth said. “Then, for what it’s worth, another big wave moves across us starting next midweek, so we’re going to be in a good unsettled pattern.”

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