Friday’s rainstorm sets new mark for Steamboat
Rain sets record, brings headaches
July 7, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The powerful monsoon storm that swept through Steamboat Springs on Friday afternoon and evening was one for the record books.
The National Weather Service confirmed Saturday that the official weather monitoring station in Steamboat recorded 1.78 inches of rain in the 24-hour period from 7:30 a.m. Friday to 7:30 a.m. Saturday. That easily bested the previous July single-day rainfall record of 1.39 inches established on July 14, 1937.
Although the 1.78 inches of rain established a new record, the spotty nature of Rocky Mountain thunderstorms proved true again Friday. Other unofficial weather monitoring stations in various locations throughout the city picked up 0.69 inches, 0.72 inches and 1.45 inches of rain, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Travis Booth.
Regardless, the 1.78 inches will be the total that is referenced by history. Buoyed by that rainfall, Steamboat had received just short of 2 inches of rain through the first six days of the month. That already surpasses the average July total of 1.51 inches.
Friday's heavy rain did more than green Steamboat lawns. Power was knocked out in areas of the city and its outskirts for a short time Friday afternoon. A tree fell onto a trailer in Dream Island Mobile Home Park, and muddy runoff from the construction site on 12th Street cascaded down into Lincoln Avenue. A couple of small tree fires resulting from lightning strikes also were reported Friday, including one at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp that was quickly put out.
On Saturday morning, hikers on Buffalo Pass discovered a fire about 400 yards from the road about two miles past Dry Lake Campground. Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Capt. Travis Wilkinson said a tree was struck by lightning, and the fire spread to a small area around the tree. Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service were called to the scene and extinguished the fire.
Area firefighters also investigated numerous reports of smoke Friday night. Routt County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Mark Mackey said most reports turned out be low-lying clouds that looked like smoke.
Flooding was reported downtown in the area of 11th Street on Friday. Steamboat Pilot & Today columnist Rob Douglas rents an office in the Old Pilot Building at 1041 Lincoln Ave., and he said the building's lower level flooded. He said the carpet was being dried out Saturday, and the damage was going to be assessed again Monday.
"It's a pretty big mess," Douglas said.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said the water rose quickly at the intersection of 11th and Oak streets. The building at 135 11th St. where Fixins Kitchen is located got the brunt of it.
"They didn't have a lot of damage," Barnett said, adding that "they have a big muddy mess to clean in the courtyard."
More storm-caused damage was possible Saturday night, when a flash flood warning was in effect for Hayden, Hahn's Peak and other areas of northern Routt County.
The National Weather Service's Booth said the recent wave of monsoon moisture is expected to dissipate by early this week. The extended forecast for Steamboat calls for a slight chance of thunderstorms Monday followed by sunny skies for the remainder of the week. Highs will be in the upper 80s and low 90s by Tuesday. Today's forecast is for a chance of thunderstorms with a high of 83 degrees.
The recent rain, combined with additional water releases from Stagecoach Reservoir, continue to prop up flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat. The river was flowing at 126 cubic feet per second under the Fifth Street Bridge early Saturday evening. That flow remains above the 85 cfs threshold required for recreational activities like tubing. However, Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife has not lifted the voluntary ban on fishing the town stretch of the Yampa River.