Chance for rain in Steamboat increases Sunday after dry second half of June

Tom Ross

— A cool thundershower came tantalizingly close to Steamboat Springs Wednesday evening, obscuring Soda Mountain from view, but never quite pushed across Fish Creek Canyon, leaving gardeners cursing their luck. All Steamboat Springs received were the gusty outflow winds generated by the storm.

Confirming that activity, the Natural Resources Conservation Service is reporting that for the seven days, from June 25 through July 1, the Mount Zirkel weather station in North Routt received 107 percent of average precipitation, while the Dry Lake station just north of Steamboat near the bottom of Buffalo Pass received none.

Craig, which saw far less rain in June than did Steamboat, also has a chance for showers and thunderstorms on Sunday.

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, Joel Gratz of said.

Gratz, usually preoccupied with snow, is issuing “trail reports” over the summer. Although he expects Steamboat to be one of the driest regions of the state over the Fourth of July, Sunday should arrive with more clouds in the sky and afternoon thunderstorms and showers, which are apt to carry into the evening.

“Sunday will offer a higher chance of afternoon and evening rain and thunderstorms, so if you’re backpacking this weekend, perhaps plan to be back to the car by early afternoon on Sunday,” Gratz suggested. “No sense in getting all your gear wet on the way out.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Malingowski predicted at 3 p.m. Thursday that a disturbance in the mid to upper atmosphere on Sunday afternoon into Monday will lead to a strong chance of showers and thunderstorms for all of Western Colorado.

“There could be some good soakers late Sunday and throughout the day Monday,” she wrote in a regional forecast.

A more specific Weather Service forecast for Sunday in Steamboat calls only for a chance of showers and thunderstorms.

The month of June must have seemed unusually hot and dry to many Steamboat residents who stuck it out through May when the average daily high of 59.1 degrees was 5 degrees cooler than average, and the 6.45 inches of precipitation nearly tripled the average.

However, the National Weather Service is reporting that a decent 1.3 inches of rain fell here in June, compared to the normal 1.77 inches. The catch is that of the total amount of precipitation that fell last month, .82 inches arrived on June 11 and 12. Since then, it has been warm and dry with the daily high temperature reaching 86 degrees on three occasions and averaging 77.8 inches for the month.

Craig, which normally receives 1.28 inches of rain in June, recorded just .17 inches of moisture last month.

Steamboat saw .12 inches of moisture — enough to dimple the mountain bike trails — on June 28, but that was the first rain to have fallen since June 17. From June 13 to 30, the city saw just .19 inches of moisture.

Tubers floating the Yampa River in Steamboat will also need to keep an eye out for building storm clouds Sunday. The river was flowing at 271 cubic feet per second, or about half of the median for the date on Thursday, but that’s a good level for safe tubing.

Steamboat endured an unusually dry winter over the ski season of 2014-15, but the Natural Resources Conservation Service is reporting that the wet spring significantly boosted total precipitation for the water year that began on Oct. 1, 2014.

Precipitation since last October at the climate site on Rabbit Ears Pass stands at 96 percent of average, and at the Tower station at 10,500 feet on Buffalo Pass, it’s 90 percent of average.

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

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