Summer, fall and winter collide |
Zach Fridell

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Summer, fall and winter collide

Last day of summer sees snow at high elevations, 1st freeze predicted


Weather forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today: Freeze warning in effect until 9 a.m., then a daytime high of 55.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy, low of 25.

Wednesday: 20 percent chance of rain or snow, high of 58.

Wednesday night: 20 percent chance of showers, low of 30.

Thursday: 20 percent chance of thunderstorms, high of 63.

Thursday night: 20 percent chance of thunderstorms, low of 32.

Friday: Mostly sunny, high of 67.

Friday night: Partly cloudy, low of 34.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, high of 69.

Saturday night: Partly cloudy, low of 35.

Sunday: Sunny, high of 71.

Sunday night: Mostly clear, low of 36.

Monday: Sunny, high of 73.

— With just 63 days until Steamboat Ski Area opens for the 2009-10 season, winter already has crept into the Yampa Valley – and just in time for the first day of fall.

Forecasters expected the first freeze of the season Monday night in Steamboat Springs after the first snowfall fell at higher elevations Sunday night.

National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton, working in Grand Junction, said Monday night’s temperature in Steamboat was expected to drop to 22 degrees, enough to cause the season’s first deep freeze.

“Snowfall amounts have been fairly light so far, 1 to 2 inches, and most of that is expected to end” Monday, he said. “Then (Monday night) we’re expecting the skies to clear out, which will allow the temperature to drop below freezing for the first time this season in the valley.”

Colton said the freezing conditions create the possibility of black ice on roadways, especially at higher elevations such as Rabbit Ears Pass, where melting snow could cause standing water. After the first vegetation “killing freeze,” the National Weather Service will not issue any more freeze warnings, Colton said.

Forecasters predict there is a 20 percent chance of precipitation Wednesday through Thursday night, with low temperatures at or below freezing each of those nights, further increasing the chance for ice on the roadways.

Colton said the snowfall Sunday night extended along the Continental Divide, with accumulation of 1 to 3 inches. Colton said Vail Pass, Copper Mountain and Monarch Pass all picked up snow from the Sunday evening storm. The upper slopes of the ski area also had visible snow on them Monday morning.

The Front Range will get the brunt of the storms in the coming days, according to the forecast, but occasional bursts of precipitation may occur on the Continental Divide.

The timing of the snowfall Sunday and Monday morning – just one day before fall officially began today – is not unusual by Yampa Valley standards. And, as is also common, the temperatures will increase at the end of the week to more typical fall levels. Although there is a chance for more light snow Wednesday, temperatures are expected to increase to 70 and higher by the end of the week.