Monday rain could mean more heavy traffic in Steamboat to start the week |

Monday rain could mean more heavy traffic in Steamboat to start the week

Rain forecast over much of the Western Slope on Monday could cause more mudslides on Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, forcing people to detour through downtown Steamboat Springs.

A pair of semi-trucks drive down Lincoln Avenue on Sunday afternoon, something not normally seen through downtown Steamboat Springs. U.S. Highway 40 has been the main detour with Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon closed on and off because of mudslides near the Grizzly Creek burn scar.

While the Steamboat Springs Fourth of July Parade was moved to Yampa Street this year, the parade traffic might still have been moving quicker than a trip east on Lincoln Avenue before noon Sunday.

The traditional parade route traded in the festivities for the sounds of diesel engines and air brakes as U.S. Highway 40 through downtown Steamboat was again the main detour for the oft-closed of late Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon.

The Colorado Department of Transportation warned the interstate would likely close again because of mudslides from the 2020 Grizzly Creek Fire burn scar, which have buried the roadway under up to 9 feet of debris in some spots, according to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. This came true with the closure Saturday.

Westbound lanes reopened Sunday morning, and eastbound traffic resumed in the afternoon, as crews worked around the clock to clear the roadway. Still, more closures could be ahead with rain in the forecast for much of the Western Slope on Monday.

“We are looking at much more widespread showers and thunderstorms, and some of them could produce some heavy rainfall, and it is kind of concentrated around that burn scar,” said Kris Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “It seems like any chance there is for heavy rain, it tends to happen right over the burn scar.”

While there are chances for afternoon rain, temperatures are expected to be slightly above average most of the week, and drier conditions has firefighters preparing for a more active week at the Muddy Slide Fire to the south of Steamboat Springs.

Monday is the best chance for rain over the Yampa Valley, as a wave of moisture over the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains will likely bring storms in the afternoon and evening, wrote local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth in his weather blog for on Sunday.

“Everyone is going to get a pretty good dose from this one,” Sanders said.

There is a lesser chance for afternoon showers Tuesday as well, but the rest of the week is shaping up to be drier, with high temperatures in Steamboat approaching 90 degrees Wednesday and Thursday.

“We get a wind shift, and things really dry out,” Sanders said, adding that showers Tuesday would likely happen in higher elevation areas rather than down in the valley.

Towards the end of the week, a high-pressure system that is currently near the southwest of Colorado will likely bring in some drier air from the Pacific Northwest that has seen record heat in recent weeks.

While forecasts can still change, next weekend is looking to be sunny with temperatures in the mid-80s.

Sanders said he did not anticipate any Red Flag warnings to be issued in the next week, though there is a chance Friday may see some of the dry and windy conditions that make wildfires more likely to start and spread.

Last week’s rain was never expected to put out the Muddy Slide Fire, and it didn’t. The moisture has prevented any growth, though, with the fire still estimated at 4,093 acres — the same estimate from the beginning of last week.

The Muddy Slide fire now has 45% cointainment, which is shown on this map with black lines around the fire’s perimeter.

The fire is now 45% contained, with most of that containment coming on the east side of the fire along Routt County Road 16 or on the west side near the Morrison Creek Divide Trail.

Because of lack of growth, the management team of the fire is being downgraded. A Type-3 team arrived Saturday ahead of taking over control of the fire Monday evening. A Type-2 Blue Team has been in control of the fire since June 24.

The amount of people working on the fire is also decreasing, with 306 firefighters and support staff assigned to the fire Sunday, down from 383 Saturday.

“Things are just kind of winding down now that we’ve had several days of rain,” said Beau Kidd, operations section chief for the fire in a Saturday update. “Until things heat back up, we will be in kind of a holding pattern.”

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