Steamboat July rainfall double average, 5th wettest on record

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Top five wettest Julys on record for Steamboat Springs

1912: 4.98 inches

1937: 3.57 inches

2011: 3.53 inches

1986: 3.27 inches

2012: 3.23 inches

Source: National Weather Service

— With 3.23 inches of rain this month, Steamboat Springs has seen the fifth-wettest July on record dating back to the early 20th century.

As of Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction reported that this month's rainfall was slightly more than double the July average of 1.61 inches.

Steamboat reached the average July rainfall fairly early in the month, when 1.78 inches of rain fell July 6, setting a new record for rainfall in a single day in July.

In July 1912, Steamboat received 4.98 inches of rain, and the next three wettest Julys on record were in 1937, 2011 and 1986.

National Weather Service forecaster Dennis Phillips said Tuesday that the monsoonal flow that causes the scattered storms and showers Steamboat has seen during the past month could break down temporarily later this week.

"It’s just a monsoon season,” he said. “And that’s the funny thing about the monsoon; it can be really hit or miss. It’s more convective. … It’s more showery thunderstorms. It’s not like a big cold front coming through.”

Phillips said that forecast models indicate a system moving over the northern part of the country will whisk away the monsoonal flow and bump up temperatures.

“When you shut the monsoon off, it’s going to get warmer,” he said. Rain could return early next week, he said.

Reaping the benefits of the rainfall in recent weeks is the Yampa River, which was flowing at 109 cubic feet per second under the Fifth Street Bridge at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The rain this month has helped keep the river flowing above the 85 cfs mark required for commercial tubing.

However, Phillips said the recent heavy precipitation doesn’t change the fact that a dry winter and early summer (0.78 inches of precipitation in May and June combined) has left Northwest Colorado in an extreme drought.

While Steamboat may have seen rain, areas outside city limits might have missed out, Phillips said, and the drought conditions might not dissipate for months.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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