Storm clouds gather over the Yampa Valley early Thursday morning, bringing cool, damp weather to Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area.

Photo by John F. Russell

Storm clouds gather over the Yampa Valley early Thursday morning, bringing cool, damp weather to Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area.

June delivers windy parting shot, rain to Steamboat

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— June threw a cheap shot at residents of Steamboat Springs on its way out the door early Wednesday evening in the form of gusty winds that damaged trees.

“We had a peak wind gust of 57 miles per hour that blew the top 16 feet out of one of my 40-foot ponderosa pines,” weather observer Art Judson said.

It marked the second time in June that Judson recorded wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour at his weather station between downtown and Steamboat Ski Area. The other wind event was recorded at 9:10 p.m. June 15, when gusts hit 51 miles per hour in the midst of a thunderstorm.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was forecasting high temperatures in the mid-70s Friday, with a return to sunshine that is expected to carry through the long holiday weekend. Highs are expected to return to the mid-80s Saturday through Monday.

June 15 marked the first day of the rainiest period of a month that saw just .77 inches of precipitation (before today). One one-hundredth of an inch of precipitation was recorded during the preceding 24 hours, followed by a reading of .37 the next day, then .08 and .05. Those four days broke a string of 13 days without moisture that began the month.

Judson’s precipitation totals for June did not include the gentle rain that fell through the daylight hours today — he makes his observations daily at 6:59 a.m., capturing precipitation from the preceding 24 hours. So, today’s rain will show up on his report for July 1.

Judson said Steamboat had received .39 inches of rain between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. today, with showers continuing to add to the total.

The Yampa River seemed not to have responded to the steady rain, flowing at 3,340 cubic feet per second as of 4:30 p.m. at the Fifth Street Bridge. That’s within the daily pattern of rising and ebbing it had seen all week.

Judson said he thought it would take at least 2 inches of rainfall to push the Yampa in Steamboat Springs back over its banks.

The Elk River was another story, as the rain appeared to have pushed it back above 6,500 cfs overnight and past flood stage before the river receded below 7.5 feet by late afternoon today.

The .77 inches that fell on Judson’s weather station before today in June was unusually low even for the driest month of the year in Steamboat and came after the all-time wettest April and an above-average May.

The average precipitation in June here is 1.53 inches, based on records from 1908 to 2006, Judson said. The month usually sees four days with more than a tenth of an inch of precipitation. The wettest June day on record was June 14, 1921, when 2.57 inches were recorded.

April saw 6.37 inches of precipitation at Judson’s station, including melted snow.

June was mild temperature-wise, with an average daily high of 73.7 degrees Fahrenheit and average daily low of 38.6. The coldest low of the month was recorded on June 1 at 29 degrees, and that was the only sub-freezing morning of the month. The two warmest days through Wednesday were Tuesday (85 degrees) and Wednesday (86 degrees).

The month of June that bowed out with a sucker punch won’t be remembered for its mildness, but the winter leftovers in the form of record lingering snowpack that pushed Yampa Valley rivers and streams over their banks.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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