Yampa River’s flows below par in Steamboat, Elk River is running above average | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa River’s flows below par in Steamboat, Elk River is running above average

The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs was peaking for the Yampa River Fest on June 3, but by the second week in July, it had fallen below average flows.

The two-day rain total of about two-10ths of an inch of moisture in the Steamboat Springs area July 11 and 12 gave the Yampa River a boost, but the river's flows are still well below what's typical for the middle of July.

Streamflow data gathered remotely by the U.S. Geological Survey where the Yampa flows beneath the Fifth Street Bridge in downtown Steamboat Springs was showing the Yampa flowing at 154 cubic feet per second at midday July 12.

That number compares to the median flow for the date of 264 cfs and represents a relatively steep drop from 275 cfs on July 1 and 225 cfs on July 5.

It's a different story on the nearby Elk River, which drains the northern end of the Park Range. Declining flows on the Elk this season have closely followed the historic pattern of median flows but leveled out with the rain showers of July 10 and 11. The Elk was actually flowing  at 643 cfs Wednesday, 11 points above the median for July 12 of 532 cfs.

This week's modest rainfall breaks a streak of 40 days without precipitation, according to data collected by volunteer weather watchers with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network. Prior to the light rainfall on July 10 and 11, a rain gauge located  two miles east and south of city had not measured any precipitation since June 2, when one-10th of an inch fell there.

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction was calling Wednesday for a 40 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms through the afternoon, then dropping to 30 percent in the early evening and continuing on Thursday.

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Weather Service chief meteorologist Jeff Colton in Grand Junction said the recent rainfall has been more generous than it was in Routt County in scattered locations from eastern Utah into Western Colorado. Several weather spotters and remote sensors have detected an accumulation of half an inch, with a couple reporting more than an inch of rain.

It "does appear we will see the nocturnal nature of showers come to an end tonight as drier conditions push in from the west and northwest," Colton added.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1