Summer fails to acquiesce to fall

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— Just when early September had winter nipping at the noses of locals in Routt County, a high pressure system produced warm temperatures and dry conditions during the first week of fall, pushing the thermometer past average readings for September.

The historical average temperatures for Steamboat Springs between Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 is in the upper 60s, said Dan Cuevas, weather technician from the National Weather Service.

During the same time period this year, the average temperature was 77 degrees and Sept. 24 peaked at 82 degrees, two days after the first day of fall.

"We're about five to 10 degrees above the average," Cuevas said.

The warm weather can be attributed to two low-pressure systems one sitting on each side of Colorado. They are keeping a high-pressure system over the state, along with the warm temperatures and dry conditions, Cuevas said.

He said September is usually warm and dry in Colorado, but in Routt County, as well as throughout the state, temperatures are five to 10 degrees higher than averages.

"We're not looking at any major changes in the weather coming up," Cuevas said.

Storm clouds could loom over Steamboat Springs by the later half of next week but until then warm and dry conditions should stick around, he said.

The warm temperatures coincided with the National Weather Service declaring the 2001 summer as the fifth hottest on record in the United States, according to its records.

The preliminary nationally average temperature was 73.6 degrees, which was 1.5 degrees above the long-term mean. June through August temperatures have been above average in 11 of the past 15 years.

"I love it," said Bridget Hall of the fall warmth. She was working as a landscaper at a construction site in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.

"We start out in the morning with long-johns and this is how we look in the afternoon."

Julie Mantelli, who was working with her, was hot and cold on the weather.

"It's not bad," she said. "It feels hotter than it is, I think."

Whether Routt County's unusually warm September weather qualifies as an Indian Summer is up in the air.

"An Indian Summer by definition happens after a killing frost," Cuevas said.

Killing frosts occur when temperatures drop to the upper 20s or below, Cuevas said.

"I'm not real sure if we've seen that yet," he added.

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