June typically driest month

Showers push last month's precipitation above average

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The four-tenths of an inch of rain that quietly drenched Steamboat Springs on Wednesday pushed the total for the month above average.

Brian Avery, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said Steamboat's unofficial precipitation count for June was 1.8 inches. That compares with the average for the month of 1.43 inches.

"June is traditionally the driest month in Steamboat," Avery said.

The official weather spotter for Steamboat resigned this spring, Avery said. However, precipitation counts are being kept by a retired person in the conservation field (the NWS protects the identity of weather spotters so they aren't deluged with phone calls), so though unofficial, precipitation reports are reliable. Steamboat received 0.41 inches of rain on the last day of the month, and the showers were typical of the pattern since mid-June, Avery said.

"We had some strong fronts come through, particularly in the third week, but some of the moisture was coming from a southeast flow," Avery said. "A lot of times, we were seeing atypical weather."

June rainfall on Colorado's Western Slope was spotty, Avery said, and the rain clouds seemed to favor a few high-elevation locations such as the Park Range near Steamboat and the San Juans in southern Colorado. Grand Junction received less than one-tenth of an inch of rain last month, Avery said.

Much of Steamboat's annual summer moisture can be attributed to a monsoon flow of moist air that begins to reach Colorado from Arizona, often by the second or third week in July.

The rain that fell Wednesday produced a healthy spike in the streamflow in the Yampa River and an even more dramatic upturn in the Elk River.

The Yampa at the Fifth Street Bridge in Steamboat had receded gradually since June 24 to a streamflow of 225 cubic feet per second. Rain that fell Tuesday and Wednesday bumped the flow to 400 cfs overnight and it remained at 337 cfs as of 1:15 p.m. Thursday.

The Elk near its confluence with the Yampa east of Milner reflected heavier precipitation, and/or snowmelt in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. After dipping to 600 cfs Tuesday, the river shot up to 1,800 cfs early Wednesday morning.

The Elk retreated to 1,100 cfs at midday Wednesday before climbing all the way to 1,900 cfs overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

Both spikes were well above seasonal average for the date, and the river was back to 1,100 cfs at midday Thursday.

Precipitation is not in the NWS forecast for Steamboat today. High temperatures will reach 75 to 85 degrees under partly cloudy skies with nighttime lows ranging from 35 to 45 degrees. A 20 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms returns Saturday afternoon, with forecasted temperatures almost identical to Friday. The forecast for Sunday returns to partly cloudy.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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