Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Steamboat Springs Shoppers and midday diners were strolling up and down Lincoln Avenue in sweaters and light jackets on Wednesday. The official high for the day was 38 degrees, but the sun made the air feel warmer -- about 8 degrees warmer.
Jim Daniels, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said the average daily high for Jan. 29 in Steamboat Springs is 30.5 degrees and the average low is 2.8 degrees. He did not have information on the record high for either the date or the month.
January thaws are not uncommon in Steamboat, but January 2003 has been mild, especially when compared to the last two years.
A national weather service spotter who records data from a home weather station on the city's west side said the latter part of the month has seen four days when the high reached 40 degrees and another day when the high was 41. The thermometer crested 40 for three consecutive days, Jan. 24-26.
Those highs are in contrast to 2001 when Steamboat's warmest day was 30 degrees. During January 2002, the temperature reached 41 degrees one day, and 40 degrees another. There were two other days when it reached the low 30s. The rest of the month, the daily highs were in the teens and low 20s, the weather spotter said.
Steamboat residents didn't experience any extreme cold to speak of this month. The weather spotter said the coldest mornings of January 2003 were recorded on Jan. 9 and again on Jan. 20, when the low reached minus 6 degrees.
Despite the mild temperatures in the valley, skiing on Mount Werner has remained fresh. The ski area reported 3 inches of new snow on Jan. 28 and a trace on Wednesday. Midday temperature readings on the mountain prove skiers can't rely on downtown weather to help them choose their clothing for the day.
At 1:50 p.m. on Wednesday, the ski area was reporting a mid-mountain temperature of 35 degrees, compared to just 22 degrees at the top of Storm Peak.
The unpacked base at mid-mountain was 45 inches with 56 inches accumulated at the summit.
Daniels said the weather in the southwestern U.S. has been dominated this month by an upper level high-pressure system. It has weakened storm systems coming from the Pacific Northwest and deflected many of them to the north.
Steamboat is more fortunate than many Colorado ski areas this month, Daniels said, because it has been in position to catch the southern edge of some storm systems.