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Snow expected to fall ‘more often than not’ this week

Higher elevations could see between 1 and 2 feet by Saturday

Daichi Shimizu, an Alpine snowboarder, gets in some turns during the 2021 Opening Day at Howelsen Hill on Saturday. Howelsen was unable to open the entire face on Saturday because of a lack of snow.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

November has been abysmal for snow accumulation, with Steamboat Springs seeing just 4.5 inches of white stuff — a slim fraction of the average 23.3 inches the area has seen in November over the past 30 years.

To make it worse, that snow came on four different days, with each measuring just over an inch followed by days of clear skies and warmer than average temperatures that quickly melted what had fallen.

For much of the last month the area’s weather pattern has been somewhat stagnant, but that changes this week, as the high-pressure ridge over the Rocky Mountains moves east, and a series of storms will likely bring 1-2 feet of new snow at higher elevations by the end of the week.



“It’ll be snowing more often than not once it starts Monday afternoon,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com. “The snow obviously will be great for the mountain and the cold temperatures will probably be as welcome.”

The first of these storms is expected to move over Steamboat sometime Monday afternoon with the most snow falling overnight before it tapers off through the day on Tuesday. Weissbluth said he expects it will be done snowing by sunset Tuesday.



Weissbluth said he is hoping for between 4-8 inches near the top of Mount Werner, but it will get cold enough for snow to stick around at lower elevations as well. Jeff Colton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, forecasted the valley floor was in store for 2-4 inches by the end of this first storm.

“It will definitely make things white; that’s the plan,” Colton said.

But Weissbluth said this first storm is really just setting the table for one that will start on Thursday afternoon that should be the biggest of the season so far. Colton agreed, saying the second is the one he’s more excited about.

“Well over a foot of snow expected up on the mountain with potentially 5-10 inches down in the valley,” Colton said. “It even looks like 4-6 inches out by Craig, so it will be a pretty good snow impacting much of the region.”

After a break in the active weather on Wednesday — expected to be a mix of sun and clouds with slight potential for a flurry or two — snow from that second storm should start falling on Thursday afternoon.

The storm consists of cold air moving down from the north and moisture moving up from the south, which are set to combine over Northwest Colorado. Models are still moving around on snow totals for this storm, but it is looking to be fairly productive, Weissbluth said.

“We could be seeing at least an additional 6-12 inches and maybe even 8-16 between Wednesday and Saturday morning,” Weissbluth said, referring to higher elevations. “Down here, maybe 4-8 inches.”

The change to have a more active weather pattern is one seen elsewhere as well, as Weissbluth said the global pattern has become less stagnant overall. This started pushing the high-pressure system over the West that had been preventing storms from getting to Colorado eastward, opening up a path to the Yampa Valley.

Another high-pressure ridge is currently forming over the Gulf of Alaska, and will eventually move back over the West towards the end of the week.

“It looks like we’re done by Saturday, and right now it does look like some dry weather for several days after this initial on slot of snow,” Weissbluth said.

Still, Colton said there were signs of optimism for another storm around the 17th or 18th of December. It is still on the edge of forecasts, but a storm looks to hit central California pretty hard around Dec. 15, Colton said.

“Based on that track and expected motion into western Colorado, it’d be here the 17th or 18th,” Colton said. “Right now it is hard to say, it is still way out there, but it could be a good one.”


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