The start of the ski season is still more than four months away, but forecasters are already looking at how much snow Mother Nature may provide.
Local fire officials are urging people to use extreme caution this holiday weekend.
The dry spell could break over the holiday weekend with the greatest chance of rain arriving Sunday in the Park Range outside Steamboat as well as in the Flat Tops.
Seasonably warm temperatures are expected to continue through the first half of the week, with some isolated moisture throughout the region, forecasters are predicting.
The areas that carry the highest snowpack deep into summer are also susceptible to flood danger. Hoosier Pass, on Colorado Highway 9 between Breckenridge and South Park, with 14.2 inches of water content, is a case in point.
After a break early Saturday moref energy is ejected over our area ahead of the eastward progressing west coast storm, bringing another round of moderate to heavy rain for Steamboat Saturday afternoon and extending into the night.
It was a tale of two rivers in the upper Yampa Basin, with the Yampa River in Steamboat flowing close to the range of typical streamflows for mid May, but with the Elk River already flowing well below the median flow for the date.
While there remains significant snowpack, albeit below average, on Rabbit Ears Pass, it was apparent that it was rain, not heat that brought the Yampa River up to record flows for May 6.
The Yampa River is expected to flow significantly higher in Steamboat by the middle of the coming work week, but it’s unlikely to peak for the season, according to a hydrologist tracking the Colorado River Basin from Salt Lake City.
An “impressive” spring storm that hit Steamboat over the weekend tapers off Monday, though cool Canadian air and moisture will continue to drag over the area, according to a weekend forecast from SnowAlarm.
At lower elevations in Steamboat Springs, only modest snow accumulations are expected Friday and Saturday.
State Representative Diane Mitsch Bush will continue to push for new legislation that would require more drivers to use snow tires or chains on Interstate 70 in the mountains despite the State Senate's move to study the issue first.
The forecast calls for possible wind gusts of 45 to 55 miles per hour on Tuesday afternoon.
Snowpack in the Yampa Basin above Craig and Steamboat Springs is low and temperatures have been atypically high since March, but the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center still gives the Yampa River a 90 percent chance of peaking at 2,000 cubic feet per second.
April is promising at least a brief return to some semblance of normalcy in Steamboat Springs’ weather, with a chance of fresh snow on the ski mountain Thursday morning.
Nordic, powder operations closing early
The winter's low snowfall totals were bad enough, but a warm week in March has forced area Nordic and powder skiing operations to close earlier than anticipated.
Forecast for better than even chance of above average temperatures, moisture in Steamboat through March 26
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is rating the chance for above average precipitation through March 26 at between 50 and 60 percent, and the same is true for the probability of above average temperatures.
Forecasters are predicting one to two feet of snow will fall in the mountains surrounding Steamboat between Monday and Wednesday, with nearly a foot expected in town.
Snowfall at the Steamboat Ski Area rebounded in February with 57.75 inches of snow recorded during the month at mid-mountain.
The mega-storm that is threatening the Southern Rockies this weekend is unlikely to bury Steamboat, according to snow forecasters, but the ski area could accumulate about a foot by the end of the day on Monday.