Tasha Getten uses an umbrella to shelter herself from the rain as she walks up 13th Street toward Colorado Mountain College on Tuesday morning.

Photo by John F. Russell

Tasha Getten uses an umbrella to shelter herself from the rain as she walks up 13th Street toward Colorado Mountain College on Tuesday morning.

Cold moisture continues to buoy snowpack in mountains near Steamboat


Historic spring runoff

■ Yampa River at Steamboat Springs

Highest peak runoff: 6,820 cubic feet per second June 14, 1921

Lowest peak runoff: 1,080 cfs May, 15, 1970

Earliest peak runoff: 5,790 cfs April 26, 1974

Latest peak runoff: 5,260 cfs June 25, 1983

■ Yampa River at Maybell

Highest peak runoff: 25,100 cfs May 17, 1984

Lowest peak runoff: 3,620 cfs June 5, 1977

Earliest peak runoff: 6,900 cfs March 16, 1966

Latest peak runoff: 9,730 cfs June 19, 1949

Data unavailable for the Yampa River where it flows south of Craig.

Source: Colorado River Basin Forecast Center

— The Park Range running along the Continental Divide just east of Steamboat Springs was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the wet April snow pattern that has boosted — as of May 1 — the snowpack in the Yampa River basin to 94 percent of median for the date.

The neighboring North Platte River basin, which also drains the Park Range, stands at 102 percent of median, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Conservation Service reported Monday that the unseasonable amount of snow that accumulated in the Colorado Rockies in April boosted statewide snowpack from 74 percent of median to 83 percent of median.

“Those wet storms really improved our water supplies, especially along the Front Range and Upper Colorado River basin,” state conservationist Phyllis Ann Phillips said in a news release.

And more precipitation is on the way. Weather observer Art Judson reported Tuesday morning that 0.26 inches of rain had fallen in Steamboat in the preceding 24 hours. That bought the May total to 0.92 inches compared with the average of 2.24 inches for the month. The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was predicting a chance of showers for Steamboat and Craig through Friday. Although overnight lows in the mountains are expected to drop below freezing, little snow accumulation is anticipated.

April typically is a time when snowpack, the moisture content in the snow, is in decline, according to the Conservation Service. Typically, snowpack peaks about April 10 and spring runoff follows soon after, but this year, peak snowpack was not reached until April 24.

A scarcity of April moisture in the southern mountains dragged down the statewide total. As of May 1, the Rio Grande basin snowpack stood at 41 percent of median, and southwestern basins including Dolores and San Juan stood at 43 percent.

The fact that the Yampa River continues to flow well below the median for the date indicates it might peak later than usual this year. The Yampa was flowing at 2,760 cubic feet per second just below Craig on Tuesday morning compared with a median flow for the date of 3,180 cfs. At the Fifth Street Bridge in Steamboat, the river was flowing at 879 cfs compared with the median of 1,260.

The Colorado River Basin Forecast Center expects the river in Steamboat to rise above 1,000 cfs Wednesday and remain in a stable daily cycle until about Monday, when it could begin to reach daily peaks of 1,300 to 1,400 cfs.

The Yampa below Craig is expected to rise more significantly toward 4,000 cfs this week, touching that threshold Friday and remaining at that level or slightly higher through May 17, according to the Forecast Center.

The Forecast Center reports that the Yampa in Steamboat typically peaks at about 3,070 cfs May 19.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

Did I mention I used to be a Rainmaker at Rawhide, back when it was in Scottsdale? Had my wagon and mule, oxygen and hydrogen tanks, whipped up a rainstorm at :20 past every hour. I got some people wet, and if ladies didn't scream, I had failed. [water pressure varied greatly in the summer] Fun gig.

Last summer, the monsoon followed me back from Texas, the next day, effectively ending that drought.

Yeah, I know a thing or two about rain... so tell me... when is THIS drought over?


Scott Wedel 3 years, 10 months ago

It normally takes several wet years for a drought to be considered over. The drought year will have damaged and diminished vegetation that will not have recovered after just one good year. Likewise various wells need more than an average year to recover to historical levels.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 10 months ago

So what? You offended that a question you asked was answered?

I know my answer disappoints you because it failed to link the drought not being considered over to various unrelated facts to create a massive conspiracy involving marijuana, international banking and the Warriors beating the Nuggets.


jerry carlton 3 years, 10 months ago

Rhys Glad to hear George Karl got Coach of the year. Sad to see the Nuggets flopped but at least the Lakers flopped worse. Back in Steamboat so I am watching the Rockies at every commercial of the show I am watching . Rats, Yankees just hit 2 run homer in top of first. I am the head of a Steamboat conspiracy to ignore an unnamed poster if you want to join the conspiracy.


Steve Lewis 3 years, 10 months ago

Be in control of your sporting reward. Paddle the Yampa! You cannot lose. :)


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

Jerry -- Welcome back to town!! Now you're adjusted to AZ, and I'll bet this feels a bit chilly to you. Ha. We love it!! You shoulda been here then, 27 below... these digs rustic, to say the least... Two times, in the last 6 years, I have returned to this town in May after an extended absence in AZ, and both times I soon caught a cold!! That place is the oven, and this is the freezer. Some physical adjustment WILL occur.

Yeah, the Rockies have a good season going so far, surprising for this early. I'm still following the NBA playoffs, no less disgusted with the officiating than ever. I can point out one guy who cost the Nuggets that series. Another guy cost Memphis a win in OKC. We're talking blatantly bad calls, repeated and biased, replays showing no basis in reality. Even Chuck was railing on the refs last night during the Heat game -- and Chuck (Charles Barkley) is my hero, despite that he's also a conservative rich Republican. And I digress. Something MUST be done, in the off-season, to curb these out-of-control referees, introduce some sort of review or challenge system. Because it's destroying the integrity of the game I love. NOBODY should get extra steps, or is immune to fouls.

Hey, I'm always up for a good conspiracy!! Forgive me Lord for falling to the extreme temptation of responding to idiotic blather; by now I should know better. When the pressure builds, Old Faithful is gonna blow, and that cauldron boils 24/7. Lord give us Strength; it's our Cross to Bear.

Now that you're back in town, maybe we could hook up for a beer somewhere. You leave the guns at home, you won't need them, and I'll try to put a rein on my tongue. Try to avoid driving; I live within stumbling distance of the better dives. We can share jail stories!!


jerry carlton 3 years, 10 months ago

Rhys We will do that when it gets warm enough for me to ride the bus. We can talk sports and jail stories. We can give each other an opposite perspective. I have never said I have a gun but if I do, the federal or state government will never take it or them from me.


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

Jerry -- Sounds good. I can tell you stories I can't here -- and in consideration of the stories I HAVE told -- they must be doozies, eh? Suffice it to say for now I have seen life from both sides of the badge, not only when I was a brig guard/chaser in the Marines for a few months, in between assignments. So I've been a cop too. The GI Bill paid for my minor in college, Psychology, wherein I learned that cops and crooks are largely cut from the same cloth; the difference being which side they choose. Many play both. Me too, just not simultaneously.

Some of the most reverent Christians I ever met were prisoners.

Yeah, we could have some yuks. How warm does it have to get? I'll get the first round!!


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

Reminds me of a time...

I was working at Rawhide as the Rainmaker, well-garbed for the role... and tonight some Police Association was our guests; the boss said "This is your chance to f**k with the cops"...

So I was yukking it up with the boys backstage, pulled out the Ruger, cocked it, and pointed it some cop's gut -- he gulped, looking down at hollow points, didn't move a muscle -- thank God, because I quickly showed how they were duds -- but WHAT FUN!!


jerry carlton 3 years, 10 months ago

Rhys I would say in the 60's at night so I do not freeze riding the bus home. I have Arizona blood right now but I am starting to adapt. Hope the Rockies have not already started their swoon. Have lost 3 of the last 4. I agree that there are some interesting conversions. Jail or prison seems to have a way of humbling men and convincing them they need something more to believe in than money or themselves.


Robert Chase 3 years, 10 months ago

"Cold moisture continues to buoy snowpack ... April typically is a time when snowpack, the moisture content in the snow ... A scarcity of April moisture in the southern mountains ..."

"Moisture" does not mean what you think it does:

"moisture noun [mass noun] water or other liquid diffused in a small quantity as vapour, within a solid, or condensed on a surface: the air was constantly heavy with moisture [as modifier]:in freshly felled wood the moisture content varies" -- Oxford Dictionaries Online

In Colorado, some passing moisture may be all we can hope for, but we need precipitation. Moisture in its denotative sense may be important to mountain ecologies here (but, I suppose, more so in mistier mountains).


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