Changing pattern expected to bring drier days to Yampa Valley

Yampa Valley could see more smoke in the air Monday

Rain falls over the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs on Sunday, July 24.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today

After a somewhat soggy weekend, Steamboat Springs should face a drier week with temperatures near average and only slight chances for afternoon thunderstorms.

As it did in May and June, the Yampa Valley is seeing a strong monsoonal pattern in July, as a high pressure system to the southeast is helping tropical moisture from the southwest make its way north. But storms to the north are expected change that pattern this week.

“(There are) very small chances of precipitation on Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday as well,” said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website “We should have some very pleasant temperatures ahead.”

The National Weather Service is forecasting chances of rain each afternoon to start the week, but only 10% for Monday, July 25, and 20% for Tuesday, July 26. Instead of high temperatures approaching 90, as they did last week, Weissbluth said things should be closer to the 84 degree average for late July.

Low temperatures are expected to drop into the high 40s at night through the week as well, with less humidity and clear nights cooling down the valley.

“We should have a pretty spectacular start to the week in terms of dry, around average, sunny days,” he said.

While the monsoonal spigot turns down to start the week, Lucas Boyer, a meteorologist with the weather service in Grand Junction, said this likely isn’t the end of the moisture.

“We will see a monsoonal pattern return,” Boyer said. “This is just the nature of it, though. It will come and go through the season.”

Boyer said there is some uncertainty trying to forecast the end of the week, as things can be harder to predict when the pattern is changing. He said right now models are generally in agreement that a high-pressure ridge will build to the west to end the week.

“With the position of the high (pressure system) that the models are showing, we will see a bit of a dry trend,” Boyer said. “In the northern part of the state, I think, we’ll definitely be drier, and on the southwest side, we’ll probably still have a little bit of moisture.”

Weissbluth is seeing a stronger chance for moisture on Thursday, July 28, that may last until Friday, July 29, but the rest of the weekend is still unclear.

While this week does dry out, Weissbluth said the monsoonal pattern looks to reform and continue to bring surges of moisture north into August.

Smoke models show Northwest Colorado may be in store for more smoke in the air on Monday.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Screenshot

The Yampa Valley may see more smoke in the air this week as it drifts down from fires in Idaho and California, Weissbluth said. A model predicting smoke in the atmosphere from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows the highest concentration of smoke will likely arrive later in the day Monday.

Before noon Sunday, July 24, the air quality meter at the historic Routt County Courthouse in downtown Steamboat recorded a 37 on the Air Quality Index, according to Purple Air. Anything below 50 is considered satisfactory.

Weissbluth said smoke on Monday could push that over 50, which is still deemed acceptable but could pose some risk to people after 24 hours of exposure. When fires were burning in Routt County last year, that number occasionally rose above 150.

“The core plume tends to stay in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana,” Boyer said. “It’s possible we see some across the northern part of the state for sure, but not in volume.”

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