While the wall calendars and daily planners of many Routt County residents scream "Spring Break!" this week, Mother Nature is reminding those in the Yampa Valley she still controls the change of seasons.
Rain and snow will dominate the weather throughout the week, inconsequential news for the many families leaving town to vacation elsewhere and unfortunate news for those who hoped to enjoy a warm, sunny week in the Rocky Mountains.
"There's a lot of Pacific moisture coming," National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Colton said Sunday as he studied the computer storm models in his Grand Junction office. "It looks like we're going to stay in this rainy, snowy pattern through the week."
Though snow fell in the Yampa Valley on Sunday, the white stuff likely will stay at 8,000 feet or higher the rest of the week, Colton said.
Drivers headed over Rabbit Ears Pass on U.S. Highway 40 on Sunday reported wet and snowy roads, and those conditions could persist or worsen if weather forecasts prove correct.
The precipitation cycle for the week is forecast to follow a 24-hour pattern, during which the daytime hours will be overcast or partly cloudy, and rain and snow will begin late in the afternoons or early evenings and continue overnight.
Generally light precipitation during the beginning of the week is expected to become heavier Thursday, when the largest of the system will move through the area. Up to a foot of snow could accumulate in the mountains by the time the precipitation pattern eases Friday, Colton said.
"We'll definitely be adding to the snowpack," he said. Snowpack in many areas of the state is below average, raising the fears of extensive summer wildfires.
The weather should dry out beginning early next week, when higher temperatures and sunny skies return to the area. The National Weather Service's long-range prediction for Steamboat Springs is for typical temperatures and precipitation through July.
But until June, Routt County residents and visitors should continue to expect typical spring weather for the area, which is to say, expect the unexpected. Big temperature swings and alternating days of rain or snow and sun are a Rocky Mountain trademark.
"This is in no way unusual for this time of year," Colton said.
-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org