Photo by John F. Russell
The colors of autumn are reflected in a small lake along Routt County Road 131 in North Routt County.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Steamboat Springs The cold nights and cobalt blue skies Steamboat Springs residents have enjoyed the past 11 days represented classic September weather in the northern Colorado Rockies, but with the arrival of October, the first snow of the new season could arrive Friday.
Matt Aleksa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said he expects a change in weather pattern by the middle of the week that gradually will usher in cooler temperatures and possibly snow.
“It’s still seven days out, but I expect the overnight low in Steamboat to get down to 32 degrees by Thursday night with a developing northwest flow,” Aleksa said. “By Friday night, it could get down into the 20s, and it could snow. As far as the amount, it’s too early to say.”
Despite the seasonable weather during the latter part of September, the spring, summer and fall of 2011 have dished out a stream of surprises. National Weather Service contributing weather observer Art Judson recorded snow in Steamboat during 27 of 30 days in April, which added up to an all-time precipitation record for April of 6.37 inches of water content.
Judson added that his snow-measuring stake above 10,000 feet on the summit of Buffalo Pass topped out at an all-time record 208 inches (more than 17 feet) during the first week in May.
“The snow cover there lasted until Aug. 1,” Judson said.
Last month also produced some meteorological aberrations with 2.99 inches of rain, making it the sixth wettest September on record since 1908.
Judson reported Friday that September rainfall was well above the 103-year average of 1.8 inches. However, last month’s total paled in comparison to the 8.15 inches recorded in September 1961.
The rain came primarily in a pair of four-day events yielding all but one-tenth of an inch of the month’s total precipitation. A total of 1.34 inches fell Sept. 6 to 9 and another 1.55 inches fell Sept. 15 to 18.
Aleksa confirmed that Steamboat’s overnight low temperatures were unusually mild for September. The average overnight low was 37.7 degrees, but there were very few nights that resulted in frost. Aleksa’s office reports that the average date of the first frost (a temperature of 32 degrees or lower) is Aug. 20 and the average first freezing temperature (of 28 degrees or lower) when vegetable crops would be damaged is Sept. 7.
Judson’s records showed that the coldest nights in September were on the 22nd and 23rd, when the thermometer got down to 30 degrees.
The average daily high in September was 72.4 degrees.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com