Mild air from Gulf of Mexico translates to cold rain in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The gentle rain that was falling in Steamboat Springs over the noon hour Friday was turning into snow on Rabbit Ears Pass, but even at 9,400 feet elevation, it wasn’t cold enough to stick to the asphalt on U.S. Highway 40.
Highway cams operated by the Colorado Department of Transportation showed that precipitation on the climb up the west side the pass was falling as rain, but beyond the west summit, there appeared to be fresh snow on the highway shoulders.
Steamboat Springs-based meteorologist Mike Weissbluth of the weather blog SnowAlarm.com explained in his Thursday afternoon forecast that “broad counter-clockwise circulation around the storm was transporting warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico, first northward then westward toward Northwest Colorado.”
Travelers headed to Denver at midday Friday found that the stretch of Interstate 70 leading to the climb to the Eisenhower Tunnel was dry through the noon hour.
Even if the weather was dreary, the overnight forecast posted by the National Weather Service hinted at spring. It forecast rain showers on the valley floor before 11 p.m., then scattered rain and snow showers between 11 pm. and 3 a.m. Saturday continuing into the morning with “little or no snow accumulation expected.”
Weissbluth was predicting Thursday that the upper levels of Mount Werner would see significant snow accumulation overnight Friday into Saturday.
The National Weather Service predicted in its Upper Yampa River Basin forecast that the weather on the valley floor would be more spring-like Sunday with high temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees under sunny skies, followed by sunshine in the morning Monday, changing to a 20-percent chance of showers in the afternoon, and again, mild temperatures of 55 to 65.
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