Photo by Scott Franz
Kailey Fischer kayaks Monday in the Yampa River near downtown Steamboat Springs. Monday’s high hit 87, unofficially becoming the hottest June 4 on record.
Updated June 5, 2012 at 9:29 a.m.
Steamboat Springs The record heat Monday likely was just enough to suck the remaining snowpack out of the mountains surrounding Steamboat Springs.
The National Weather Service’s forecast office in Grand Junction posted a temperature reading of 87 degrees at 2:45 p.m. Monday at Steamboat Springs Airport. That reading became official Wednesday morning, eclipsing the previous high temperature for June 4 of 86 degrees recorded in 1909.
The National Weather Service's Jim Pringle said an upper air ridge is causing the flow to bring heat from the desert southwest to Northwest Colorado.
With a forecast for the next several days of high temperatures in the 80s and only dry thunderstorms, the little moisture contained in the dwindling snowpack close to Steamboat could be all but gone by the end of the week.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service on Monday was showing just one-tenth of an inch of snow moisture remaining on the west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass and 3.3 inches on the Continental Divide at Buffalo Pass.
The average snow moisture content for June 4 on Buffalo Pass is 39.6 inches, leaving Monday’s reading at 8 percent of average.
The news was similar for the Elk River Basin, where the Lost Dog measuring station was showing one-tenth of an inch of snow moisture compared to the average for the date of 24 inches.
There still is some snow visible on the upper slopes of Steamboat Ski Area — to the far left of Storm Peak Face and on upper Buddy’s Run.
The streamflow forecast for the Yampa River in downtown Steamboat confirms the gloomy moisture story. The Yampa River where it flows under the Fifth Street Bridge has been going through a daily cycle of peaks just above and below 500 cubic feet per second since Thursday. At midday Monday, the river was flowing clear and cold at 448 cfs. However, typical flows for this date are 2,290 cfs.
Perhaps more concerning is the National Weather Service’s eight-day look into the future, which shows the river going into a steady decline until it slips below 200 cfs on Saturday.
As recently as May 26 the river was flowing at more than 900 cfs.
As the warning coordination meteorologist in the Grand Junction forecast office, Pringle noted that the region is under a red flag warning from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, meaning conditions are ripe for fast-spreading wildfires. Low humidity, high temperatures, stiff winds and afternoon thunderstorms could conspire Tuesday to ignite and fuel fires.
2012 snow water equivalent at Rabbit Ear Pass
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com