Steamboat Springs Pedaling hard under a vast blue sky and along a dry road on his Specialized road bike, Hayden resident Mike Markle predicted he wasn’t the only cyclist zipping down a Routt County road Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a winter as warm as this one,” he said with a smile. He didn’t know quite how many miles he’d rack up Sunday, but Markle said the warm weather was an welcome invitation for a ride to Twentymile Coal Mine on Routt County Road 27 and then back home.
“It’s beautiful. It’s perfect,” he said.
Runners and cyclists like Markle were a common sight along the county’s rural roads Sunday as temperatures reached the 50s. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction predict winter will remain on pause at least through Friday.
“We’re generally going to be warming up through the week,” forecaster Dennis Phillips said. “It’s shaping up to be a nice week.”
He said the daily temperature in Steamboat should continue to reach the mid- to upper 50s through Friday. The historic average high temperature for Steamboat in March is 42 degrees.
But a colder, more unsettled weather pattern has a chance to return to the high country with snow this weekend, Phillips added.
“All of our current models are pointing to a big change from (the warm pattern) this week,” he said.
The warmer weather that greeted skiers this weekend has quickly shaved off some of the snowpack that built up here in February. Local weather observer Art Judson said snow at his recording site on Anglers Drive has melted from 36 inches at the start of March down to 22 inches. Downtown Steamboat has received 8.6 inches of snowfall so far this month, and it received a total of 43.9 inches in March 2011, according to the Weather Service.
The pause in snow and unseasonably high temperatures are getting the staff at Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare thinking more about the cycling season.
“It’s almost time. It’s right around the corner,” manager Derek Hodson said Sunday. He added the shop last week started staffing its bike repair shop every day. “It’s been kind of a bipolar week because we’ve had the ski customers coming in, but it’s also starting to get busy with the bikes.”
But he said the next snowstorm likely will put them away again, at least until the next melt.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com