March precip stands at one-third normal with a mix of rain and snow in forecast
Steamboat Springs — There is cold moisture in the forecast for the last two days of March in Steamboat Springs, but it isn’t likely to bring the total monthly precipitation on the valley floor anywhere close to the normal 1.54 inches of moisture for the month.
One weather station between downtown and the base of Steamboat Ski Area had totaled .56 inches of moisture as of March 29.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a slight chance of thunderstorms for Thursday, March 30, followed by a 40 percent chance of rain and then a mix of snow and rain overnight. The chance of precipitation drops to 30 percent Friday morning but jumps to a 50 percent chance of rain in the afternoon.
Weather Service senior forecaster Larry Smith predicted at midday Wednesday that there could be thunderstorms associated with snowfall late this week.
The Weather Service isn’t calling for specific amounts of precipitation over the last two days of the month, but Intellicast predicts a half inch in the form of rain and snow Thursday and less than an inch of snow Friday. Neither forecast anticipates precipitation over the weekend.
A storm system, which the Weather Service describes as “significant,” will be more productive to the south of Steamboat.
Snow is more of a sure thing at Breckenridge at an elevation of 9,600 feet, with an 80 percent chance of receiving 1 to 3 inches Friday. Saturday’s accumulations in Breck are expected to be about an inch.
More snow could fall in the San Juans and the West Elk Mountains to the south. Intellicast rates the chance that Telluride will see 3 to 5 inches of snow on Saturday at 100 percent. Crested Butte, at the headwaters of the Gunnison River, has a 70 percent chance of 3 to 5 inches of snow on Friday and a 60 percent chance of 1 to 3 inches on Saturday.
Kate Gmeiner’s weather station, between downtown and the base of the ski area, confirms that precipitation has come in dribs and drabs early and late this month, with nothing but trace amounts in the middle of March. There was no measurable precipitation from March 12 to 24.
In spite of the dry spell that began here in February, moisture for the water year, which began Oct. 1, 2016, is still at 105 percent for the combined Yampa and White river basin. However, the water stored in the standing snow at higher elevations has slipped to 93 percent.
Much of that moisture fell in December and January, when the ski area saw back-to-back 100-inch snow months at 9,000 feet.
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