Colder weather forecast

Winds, good chance of rain -- with a dusting of snow-- predicted

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Winds picked up early Friday, blowing a cold front and scattered snow and rain showers to Colorado.

Gusts from the west reached up to 28 mph in Routt County during the day Friday, and those gusts could continue to get stronger today, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Forecasts for Routt County indicated winds would bring a 40 percent chance of rain and, as Friday night progressed, below-freezing temperatures, which could turn rain into snow. There also is a 30 percent chance for some sort of precipitation tonight, with winds subsiding after that.

"The cold front could bring snow, but it would be a dusting at best," said Meteorologist Dave Nedler with the NWS in Grand Junction. "It will be significantly cooler. It will remind us it's not summer yet."

Nedler said 2 inches to 5 inches could be expected, particularly at altitudes of 8,000 feet or more in the Flat Tops and Park and Gore ranges, bringing much-needed moisture to the Yampa River's headwaters.

"It may come down really heavy with the front and then some periodic snow showers and cold weather," Nedler said. "It depends on how cold it gets. Sunday and Monday, it will be back to warm temperatures."

This winter has been a dry one, recording only 277.5 inches of snow. And while the summit has had flurries here and there, this would be the first significant snow to hit the mountain since March 14 and the valley floor since March 9.

Andy Wirth, marketing executive for the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said he is excited that snow is in the forecast.

"I've been here 18 years, and I've never seen such consistent warm weather accompanied by wet precipitation," Wirth said. "We never use the "r" word around here, so that's why we're celebrating this weather system moving into our area. It's been a couple of weeks since we've had substantial snowfall, and lately the weather patterns have had us concerned."

Wirth said that temperatures at night also have been too high to make snow.

"Normally at night, temperatures at this time of year would dip into (the) 20s where we could at least make snow -- that's why we're characterizing recent temperatures as an anomaly."

With decent snowfall in December, January and February, however, Wirth said Steamboat is "clearly in a better position" than other Colorado ski resorts. While looking at Friday snowfall in Utah, he said he was optimistic it would come to Steamboat.

"It sure seems like this time of year, with this type of weather coming, we can go back to winter in a blink of an eye," Wirth said.

Nedler said there is a chance of precipitation toward the end of next week, but it is too early to be sure.

-- To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204

or e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com

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