Warm weather Friday and Saturday in Steamboat made for a busy downtown as local businesses held sidewalk sales like this one Saturday at Straightline Sports at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Warm weather Friday and Saturday in Steamboat made for a busy downtown as local businesses held sidewalk sales like this one Saturday at Straightline Sports at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Steamboat sets temperature record

More records could be broken through Sunday

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— Steamboat Springs set a record high temperature Friday with 69 degrees recorded at Steamboat Springs Airport, according to the National Weather Service. The previous record was 63.

On Saturday, the day’s record was unofficially broken by the afternoon with temperatures in the mid-60s and rising. The previous record for March 24 was 60 degrees. A new record is not official until it is reported by the National Weather Service at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The unseasonably warm weather had Kristi Richardson and Hanna Pagliaro skiing in tank tops Saturday at Steamboat Ski Area.

“We’ve been doing this for two weeks now,” said Richardson, who wore a sleeveless top with her snow pants. “It’s a bummer it’s so early this year, but it’s fun. If you’re more comfortable, you have more fun.”

Some bare spots were starting to appear across the mountain, but the girls said the skiing is still good up high.

“It’s really slushy down at the bottom,” Pagliaro said.

And their words of advice for spring skiing? Layers and sunscreen.

“I put sunscreen on my face because I hate goggle tans,” Richardson said.

But it’s hard to avoid the telltale tan lines with the record-high temperatures and spring sunshine that’s settled in the Yampa Valley.

Things are expected to continue heating up in the valley Sunday with a forecast high of 67 degrees. The record for March 25 is 61 degrees.

Art Judson, one of two National Weather Service observers in Steamboat Springs, said Steamboat's record temperature for March is 70 degrees, set March 31, 2004. The average temperature for March is 42 degrees.

National Weather Service forecaster Joe Ramey said the mild weather stems from the current southwest flow. A low-pressure system is sitting off the California coast and will make landfall Sunday, bringing a front through Steamboat on Monday.

Ramey said the front will chill the temperatures a bit — though they still will be well above average in the 50s — and could bring a thunderstorm and possibly hail.

The potential for rain with this system will only continue the melting process for the relatively shallow 2011-12 snowpack. On Saturday, the Tower site on Buffalo Pass measured the snow-water equivalent at 66 percent of average.

Ramey said that although this winter was a La Niña year, it’s historically been the case that the second La Niña year in a row won’t produce as much snow as the previous year.

And as for the extreme temperatures early this spring, Ramey said he’s come to learn that every year is extreme in its own way.

“In the arid West, every year is unique and every year is somewhat radical,” he said. “This is not an unusual year in its uniqueness.”

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

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