After mild 1st day of spring, winter weather to return | SteamboatToday.com
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After mild 1st day of spring, winter weather to return

NOAA calls for concerning wildfire, drought potential this summer; Yampa Valley only 91% below normal snowpack

Chelsea McLean and her dogs relax at the Rotary Peace Pavilion along the Yampa River Core Trail on Wednesday afternoon. After springlike temperatures — and the first day of spring — winter weather is expected to return next week to the area. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — While Routt County residents may have gotten excited to see spring weather, Mike Weissbluth, local meteorologist and operator of snowalarm.com, said the excitement may need to pause for at least a week — as he expects winterlike conditions for the upcoming week.

“This is our last spring day here for a little while,” Weissbluth said, though he believes spring weather is likely to return in the first days of April. “It looks like we’re going to be an unsettled and cool pattern for the rest of the workweek.”

To commemorate the first day of spring, which occurred at 3:37 a.m. Saturday, as the sun crossed the equator and into the northern hemisphere, Weissbluth said he measured temperatures of 54 degrees at Steamboat Springs Airport and 38 degrees at the summit of Steamboat Resort.



Weissbluth said a storm currently crossing the Great Basin will bring a cold front through Routt County late Saturday evening with periods of moderate to heavy snow.

While the storm is currently elongating to the southwest and weakening as it approaches Routt County, additional upstream energy will reinvigorate the storm as it passes through, Weissbluth said, adding he expects 3 to 6 inches of snow possible by Sunday morning, with another 1 to 4 inches of snowfall expected during the day Sunday and into Sunday evening.



Weissbluuth said there is a Tuesday storm expected to split around the Yampa Valley, which could receive 2 to 5 inches during the day and overnight Tuesday.

Another storm is expected to begin Thursday and continue through the weekend, which Weissbluth said could bring “significant snowfall,” in the 6-to-12-inch range throughout the weekend.

The Yampa Valley had its hottest, driest summer on record in 2020, and the National Weather Service Grand Junction office said the region is showing higher-than-average temperatures for March, April and May.

As far as the spring flood risk goes, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hydrologists are forecasting limited to moderate flooding this spring, and no areas with greater than a 50% chance of major flooding for the first time since 2018. Overall, the upcoming flood year is not expected to be severe or as prolonged as the previous two years, said Megan Stackhouse, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We’re seeing different weather conditions up north than further down south,” Stackhouse said. “Either way, we’re looking at above-normal temperature for March, April and May.”

Stackhouse said the low levels of precipitation and snowpack across the West “are definitely going to be a big concern for wildfires and drought this summer.”

While Routt County started its winter season with what Stackhouse said was concerningly low snow levels, Stackhouse said the area is now only 91% below its normal snowpack level due to heavier snow in January and February.

“That’s better than it was a month or two ago, but we’re still not at normal yet, so that is going to be a concern going into the spring and summer months,” Stackhouse said.


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