Dry spell continues in Steamboat Springs

Yampa Valley forecast devoid of rain

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— Dean Look hasn’t been able to glance at many local weather forecasts this summer without getting a little thirsty.

“You keep looking and you keeping hoping” for rain, the North Routt County rancher said Sunday. “I’ve lived here for 78 years, and I can’t remember a summer as dry as this one.”

Look, who raises cattle on a ranch that hugs the Elk River, said he plans to cut his cattle herd from 120 heads to about 80 this year because of the increased cost of hay.

And this week’s weather forecast won’t do much to please Look and other Yampa Valley residents who are hoping for a downpour.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is calling for another dry week.

“It’s just kind of a pattern we’re stuck in,” Weather Service forecaster Dennis Phillips said. “It looks pretty dry up until next weekend. Maybe we’ll get a little (rain) Saturday night into Sunday, but the chances are still pretty small right now.”

Temperatures were expected to reach freezing Monday morning, but Phillips said daytime temperatures in Steamboat once again should reach into the mid-80s Thursday and Friday. The Yampa Valley also is well behind its average rainfall total.

From January through May, Steamboat historically has received an average of 10.7 inches of precipitation. The city started June with 6.31 inches of precipitation for the year. Local weather observer Art Judson reported last month that 0.68 inches of precipitation fell in May compared to an average of 2.08 inches. Just 0.11 inches of precipitation have fallen so far in June.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Drought Monitor shows that most of Routt County is in extreme drought.

Meanwhile, the early depletion of area snowpack and lack of rain have left the Yampa River running well below its average strength.

The river was running at less than 200 cubic feet per second Sunday afternoon. The river’s average strength for that date is 2,200 cfs. The river is forecasted to slow to 120 cfs by Saturday. The Yampa River Management Plan calls for the end of recreation on the river if its flow falls below 85 cfs.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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