First day of summer will be a hot one in Steamboat area | SteamboatToday.com

First day of summer will be a hot one in Steamboat area

The first day of summer is going to be a hot one in the Steamboat Springs area.

The summer solstice officially occurs at 10:24 p.m. Tuesday, and according the Steamboat meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com, a ridge of high pressure will be moving into the area during the day.

Temperatures will soar to 87 degrees Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

On the Front Range, temperatures could reach triple digits. In Grand Junction, it could get up to 103 degrees.

The projected high temperature on Wednesday in Steamboat is 86 degrees followed by 83 degrees Thursday.

The late-week cooling off can be attributed to a storm in Canada that will move cool air to the south, Weissbluth said.

On Wednesday, there is a small chance of afternoon storms, but Weissbluth said the storms would bring more wind than rain.

There is disagreement in the computer models about when cooler air will move into the area over the weekend.

"After that, both models agree on a building ridge of high pressure over the Intermountain West by the second half of the weekend, which will bring a return to hot and dry conditions heading into the next work week," Weissbluth said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

Smoke visible from Northwest Colorado fires

With red flag warnings and recent wildfires in Northwest Colorado, the fire danger in Routt County stands at moderate.

With the correct winds, smoke from fires in the region could drift to Routt County.

The fires were started by lightning.

The Hunter Fire 20 miles of southwest of Meeker was reported Saturday and has burned 1,000 acres. It was 15 percent contained as of Monday afternoon.

The Dead Dog Fire reported Sunday 10 miles north of Rangely blew up to 2,000 acres Monday.

Officials closed U.S. Highway 40 between Dinosaur and Skull Creek in western Moffat County near the Utah border shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.

Beginning in May, firefighters in Routt County began responding to wildfires.

West Routt Fire Protection District firefighters responded to controlled burns that got out of control.

"We just urge everyone to be very careful with their open burning," firefighter Trevor Guire said.

People should contact the department if they plan on doing open burns.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters responded to a fire that started while a man was burning in a drum.

Open burning season has ended in the Steamboat area.

The National Interagency Fire Center has predicted below normal wildland fire potential for the Steamboat zone in June and July.

"Above normal precipitation and soil moisture is leading to a robust green-up across the West," the center wrote in a report.

Steamboat Deputy Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said conditions can change quickly.

"As of right now, things are still good and looking OK," Cerasoli said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

Rain, then warm weather returns to Steamboat

Rain and colder temperatures are expected Tuesday before things start to heat up again quickly.

Steamboat Springs meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs snowalarm.com, wrote that a ridge of high pressure in the western United States had flattened allowing a weak cool front to move into northern Colorado on Monday.

"Some storms will also be possible on a cooler Tuesday afternoon as lingering moisture and instability from the front remain over our area," Weissbluth said.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction is calling for a high temperature of 76 degrees Tuesday.

The high pressure will begin to build again Wednesday bringing warmer temperatures and possibly an afternoon shower.

"Drier air and hot temperatures invade the Intermountain West for the rest of the work week with meager chances for precipitation," Weissbluth said.

Temperatures are expected to return to the low 80s by Thursday.

"While we are basking in mid-summer-like weather, a strong and powerful storm approaches the Pacific Northwest coast around Thursday," Weissbluth said. "However, seasonality dictates that the battle between the storm and the ridge will be dominated by the ridge, at least through the weekend. The main effect on our weather will be the appearance of breezy southwest winds ahead of the storm that will make only slow eastward progress through the weekend."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

Yampa River has peaked in Steamboat, still time to ‘get your paddle on’

It's time for whitewater enthusiasts in Steamboat Springs to get their "paddle on."

Even though the river where it flows through downtown has already peaked for the season, the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, is projecting the final push of the spring runoff will continue into the first few days of June.

The river, which was flowing at below 1,000 cfs the morning of May 24, had already jumped to 1,250 cfs by midday May 25 and is projected to go even higher June 1 to 3 when it will be flowing above 1,550 cfs just in time for the 37th annual Yampa River Festival.

However, hydrologists at the Forecast Center report the river won't climb as high as it did shortly after 2 a.m. May 14, when the flow peaked at 2,030 cfs for the season. That compares to a peak flow of 3,880 cfs on June 9, 2016.

Karl Wetlaufer, a hydrologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Denver, suggested Thursday the below-average peak flow in the Yampa correlates with mountain snowpack that peaked atypically early.

"Across the entire Yampa, White and North Platte, snowpack peak was just about a month earlier than normal," Wetlaufer said. "There were slight resurgences, but it never reached that peak again."

Typically, Wetlaufer said, snowpack — a term that refers to the amount of water accumulated in the settled snow — peaks in this region on about April 10. This year, snowpack in the mountains peaked March 12.

To put the peak flow for 2017 in perspective, the Yampa's seasonal high in Steamboat has reached more than 3,000 cfs seven of the past 10 years. The highest flow in a decade was recorded June 7, 2011, when flows of 5,200 flooded hotel parking lots on the south side of town.

The lowest peak in the last 10 years was the 1,570 cfs recorded April 27, 2012.  A recent runoff season that more closely resembles 2017 was that of 2007, when the river peaked at 2,520 cfs.

The highest flow ever measured on the Yampa in Steamboat was the 5,550 cfs recorded in 1984.

The Yampa at Deerlodge Park in Moffat County, just above Dinosaur National Monument, was flowing in 4,350 cfs late this week with a boost from the Little Snake River, which drains the northern portion of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Areas, and was flowing at 1,350 cfs.

The Green River, just before it flows out of Utah and into Moffat County, was flowing at 7,100 cfs, as Flaming Gorge Dam operators counteracted high inflows generated by unusually heavy snow in Northwest Wyoming this winter.

The early May snowfall, along with the unseasonably cold temperatures experienced in the upper Yampa River Basin, are helping to feed the river's resurgence.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service reports that the 8 inches of snow water equivalent — water stored in the remaining 18 inches of snow — on the West Summit of Rabbit Ears Pass May 25 was  just 58 percent of median, but that has grown from just 34 percent of median on May 17.

Those figures are even more significant above 10,000 feet on Buffalo Pass where the snow is still 90 inches deep, and the 44.8 inches of water there is 93 percent of median for the date.

Wetlaufer said the benefit of a late surge in snowmelt could be amplified if it also comes with rainfall on the valley floor. That would boost soil moisture, he said, which in turn would satisfy the demands of vegetation and allow more of the snowmelt to make its way into the streams and river.

<em>To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email <a href=”mailto:tross@SteamboatToday.com“>tross@SteamboatToday.com</a> or follow him on Twitter <a href=”https://twitter.com/ThomasSRoss1“>@ThomasSRoss1 </a></em>

SnowAlarm: Rain showers persistent in Steamboat Springs Thursday and Saturday, continuing next week

Forecast courtesy of snowalarm.com

While the bulk of a storm currently affecting the Steamboat Springs area is located in the southern Canadian prairies, just north of Montana and North Dakota, a cold front moving into the Great Basin on the backside of that storm will keep a somewhat stationary front over the northern borders of Utah and Colorado through Saturday. Showers will be the heaviest and longest-lasting with cooler temperatures Thursday and Saturday, as the stationary front moves southward, with Friday being a less active and warmer day as the once-cool front retreats northward back over our area as a warm front.

Some energy lingers over the southern Great Basin even as the storm passes east of our area by Saturday night, and that will contribute to the possibility of much lighter afternoon showers for Sunday and Memorial Day along with near-average temperatures.

Around Tuesday, a large diffuse area of low pressure crosses the northern Baja coast. Though the exact track of this low pressure is in question, models agree that subtropical moisture will be drawn northward across New Mexico and Colorado on the front-side of the storm, leading to heavier afternoon showers on Tuesday and Wednesday.

More uncertainty exists around midweek as the European ECMWF has uncharacteristically changed its solutions from earlier runs and now has the storm moving over Colorado later in the work week. The American GFS, on other hand, keeps the bulk of the storm south of us in the Chihuahuan Desert over northern Mexico and southern New Mexico. Continued afternoon showers are likely with this solution while a wetter period later Thursday or Friday is advertised by the ECMWF.

Camping options limited in Routt County for Memorial Day

Camping in Routt County this Memorial Day weekend will likely be a little more adventurous than usual.

That is if you can even find a space.

The weather forecast is calling for chances of rain, and maybe even snow, on Friday and Saturday nights. The forecast clears up Sunday, when it is expected to be mostly sunny with a high of 61 degrees.

And recent snowstorms have prevented the U.S. Forest Service from opening some gates that lead to prime camping spots.

All four state parks in the area are reporting their campgrounds are already fully booked for the weekend.

Camping options remain limited in the National Forest, especially if you head north.

The only National Forest campground that will be open in North Routt County  this weekend will be the Hinman Campground off of Seedhouse Road.

The Seedhouse gate is still closed, however, meaning several dispersed campsites along the Elk River in the Hinman Park area are not yet accessible.

"It was kind of tracking for campgrounds to be open a touch earlier than normal this year until the snowstorm we just got," Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said Wednesday.

Voos did not expect the Seedhouse gate to open by the weekend due to the upcoming weather forecast.

Head south though, and there are some more camping options in the Yampa district.

Bear Lake Campground is open up until site no. 24.

Camping is also available at the Lynx and Blacktail Creek campgrounds.

Voos said the day use areas at Sheriff's and Chapman Reservoirs are still closed.

Hikers also cannot yet make it to the Devil's Causeway.

The Sarvis Creek and Silver Creek wilderness areas are accessible. But Voos cautioned hikers to keep an eye out for falling trees.

To the east in the Park district, the Aspen Pines and Teal campgrounds are open but water will not be provided yet on site.

Crews are working hard to get the Big Creek Lakes campground open, but Voos said culvert work is not going to be done in time for that area to be open by the weekend.

Campers might have luck finding more spaces if they head further south from Routt County into the White River National Forest.

Vail Daily reported this week that most of the White River National Forest campgrounds opened May 19 with the exception of some higher elevation campgrounds and sites in Summit County that were still seeing spring snowfall.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Spring storm blocks Broncos appearance in Steamboat





The Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning is congratulated on the sidelines after his 509th career touchdown pass in 2014.

— Thursday's snow and the promise of more this weekend led to the Denver Broncos’ decision to cancel appearances in Steamboat Springs and Aspen.

"They (the Broncos) emailed us Thursday morning to let us know that the weather and the concern with traveling in the mountains led to the cancellation of the events in Steamboat Springs and Aspen," said Maren McCutchan, public relations manager for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

The Salute to the Fans Tour in Steamboat Springs was scheduled to take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday afternoon at Ski Town Field. The team had planned to drive to Steamboat Springs for the event and then continue onto Aspen.

But Mother Nature had other ideas. Road closures and dangerous driving conditions in the mountains forced the team to reconsider its stops. The events might be rescheduled at a later date, but McCutchan said several things would need to fall in place before that could happen.

Snow piles up during May 18 storm

— A May winter snowstorm caught some by surprise Thursday morning, but the plows in Steamboat Springs were ready.

Crews were out at 6:15 a.m.

"Shortly after that, the snow started to stick," city of Steamboat Springs streets superintendent David Van Winkle said.

Equipment being used included four graders, three sand trucks and two pickup plows.

"We were staffed up," Van Winkle said. "We were watching this."

The city has had no reports of downed trees from the heavy snow, but it is anticipated that could change.

Between 6 and 8 inches of snow had fallen in the Steamboat area by mid-morning.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was predicting up to 16 inches of snow could fall in the Steamboat area by the time the snow tapered off Friday.

"Snowfall with these systems can vary," meteorologist Michael Charnick said. "Temperatures are critically important to get snow this time of year."

This storm total alone could surpass the total March snowfall at Steamboat Ski Area, when a record-low 11.25 inches of snow fell.

Yampa Valley Electric Association was not reporting any significant issues.

“Currently, our system is holding up very well,” YVEA spokeswoman Tammi Strickland said. “The lines have shed the snow that had built up on them, and we have just a few small outages.”

Chain laws were in effect on Rabbit Ears Pass, and U.S. Highway 40 was shut down for about 30 minutes because of a crash.

By Thursday afternoon, roads were mostly wet.

The most significant crash was a head-on collision on Routt County Road 129 near Moonhill Estates. One person was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center with minor injuries.

"I'm surprised we didn't have more accidents," Steamboat Fire Chief Mel Stewart said.

Routt County Sheriff's Office deputies helped six people whose cars slid off the road.

Staff at Yampa Valley Regional Airport were able to keep the runway clear.

"Only impact was doing snow removal operations early this morning instead of grass cutting and runway marking painting we had scheduled," YVRA director Kevin Booth said.

Joel Gratz, who runs opensnow.com, was calling for up to 30 inches of snow at Arapahoe Ski Area.

"This storm is fantastic, not just because of powder, but because of the water it is bringing to Colorado," Gratz wrote. "Most mountains will get 1 to 2 inches of liquid-equivalent precipitation, and the areas east of the mountains could get 2 to 5 inches. Colorado is an arid state, and every drop of rain and flake of snow should be treated as gold."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

JD Hays memorial service postponed due to weather

— Friday's memorial service for former Steamboat Springs Police Chief JD Hays has been postponed due to the weather.

Police Commander Jerry Stabile said JD Hays' family members did not want loved ones risking the trip.

The family now plans to hold the memorial service at 3 p.m. June 9 at Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs.

Hays was diagnosed with brain cancer six weeks ago and died Saturday.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

SnowAlarm: Cool front hitting Steamboat Springs Tuesday, followed by cold front Wednesday







Forecast from snowalarm.com.

I may have spoken too soon on May Day when I thought Steamboat Springs would see the last snowflakes of the season. A couple of storms, one currently located in Nevada and another much colder winter-like storm located off the British Columbia coast, will affect our area into the weekend.

The first storm will be pushed eastward across the Great Basin by the second storm, and after a breezy afternoon Monday, we may see some showers this evening as energy is ejected out ahead of the storm.

Temperatures will be seasonably cool Tuesday behind the cool front with showers possible later in the day as the first storm swings south of our area and moves east of Colorado Tuesday evening. However temperatures will have much further to fall on Wednesday as the second storm crosses the Pacific Northwest coast early Tuesday and travels southeastward across the Great Basin.

Current timing has the strong cold front from the second storm sweeping across Colorado sometime on Wednesday. Though there may be clearing ahead of the front, don’t be fooled as there may be a period of heavy but brief precipitation with the front along with unseasonably cold temperatures.

Precipitation will be showery behind the front, with snow down to the valley floor, especially overnight, though warm road surfaces should limit any accumulations to the grassy surfaces.

Though there are model differences with respect to the southern extent of the storm, there should be a time when precipitation, likely in the form of snow, turns more persistent on Thursday as cold, moist and unstable northwest flow occurs on the backside of the slowly moving storm.

Though temperatures will warm from the coldest part of the storm, still unseasonably cool temperatures with showers are forecast for Friday as trailing energy behind the departing storm keeps moist and unstable conditions around.

Temperatures will warm through the weekend from seasonably cool to perhaps average by Sunday, but there will still be a chance of showers on Saturday and a better chance on Sunday and heading into the new work week as additional energy from the northwest moves over the area.