The question mulled around the evening campfires by the members of the Yampa River Awareness Project expedition was not only whether the Yampa is worth preserving in its current state but also how that might be done while meeting the West’s demand for more water for human consumption.
For now, the Yampa River flows are fine and veteran Steamboat angler Bob Bomeisl managed to catch and release a large trout in the midst of a hatch of yellow tubers Wednesday.
Consistently warm weather over the next couple of weeks could support streamflows by saturating soils with snowmelt, resulting in a more efficient runoff.
Soon after entering full runoff stage, the Yampa and Elk rivers likely are approaching their peak flows for the season, and experts caution that the rivers are dangerously cold for people who aren’t equipped with whitewater paddling gear.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is forecasting a high temperature of 72 degrees under mostly sunny skies Sunday followed by even higher temperatures to begin the workweek Monday.
Weather observer Art Judson reported Tuesday morning that 0.26 inches of rain had fallen in Steamboat in the preceding 24 hours. A chance of showers is forecast for Steamboat and Craig through Friday.
Aldis Strautins, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said the current cool down appears to be a good thing for water supplies.
Nicke Bencke, of the U.S. Forest Service, made the trip up Buffalo Pass on April 23 and took two snow depth readings that showed 124 inches and 128 inches at the Tower measuring site.
The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center predicts the Yampa River’s flows will begin to climb steeply on Friday as spring runoff season begins in earnest.
The city of Steamboat Springs announced Wednesday that area water districts have agreed to allow limited residential car washing once Stage 2 water restrictions take effect May 1.
The snow that continued throughout the day Wednesday served to further bolster the snowpack in the Yampa/White River Basin.
With drought conditions forecast to continue, the Colorado Water Trust is stepping up to help ensure the Yampa River continues flowing at healthy rates this summer.
The managers of Routt County’s three major state parks told the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that they are preparing for another season of drought while they study the impacts the drought of 2012 had on their campgrounds and picnic areas.
Meteorologist Joel Gratz forecasts that Steamboat Ski Area could see 4 to 11 inches of new snow from Friday night to Monday night with the best chance of snow arriving Saturday night.
With no end to the drought in sight, Steamboat Springs has joined many other Colorado communities in announcing upcoming water restrictions.