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Snow may bring end to fire season

However, fall should continue for next several weeks

Doug Crowl

— There is still time to prepare for winter as fall conditions are expected to stick around through the week in the Yampa Valley and any winter-like weather is still a few weeks away.

A high-pressure system over the valley through the weekend produced temperatures in the upper 70s. However, a low-pressure system is expected to come to town today, according the National Weather Service.

“It could produce a few showers in the area on Monday and continue through Wednesday,” John Kyle said.

On Sunday, Kyle, a data acquisitions program manager for the National Weather Service, was looking through weather forecasts for the Yampa Valley.

He said today holds the best chance for rain this week, but some moisture in the air will stick around until Wednesday. Temperatures will rise again after Wednesday and chances for showers will reduce.

The same conditions are expected for the upcoming weekend.

Kyle said there are no definite signs of when the valley’s first snow under 8,000 feet will come.

The U.S. Forest Service also has a special interest in the area’s first large snowstorm.

“We realize that’s what it’s going to take to get these large fires out,” said Diann Pipher, spokeswoman for the Craig Interagency Fire District.

Though wildfires are still burning in several areas of the Routt National Forest, none are detrimental to the area, officials said.

Pipher said the Forest Service is now mainly focused on restoration work, such as rehabilitating portions of the forest overturned to create fire lines.

But the agency is still keeping an eye on several hot spots.

A big snow, considered a fire season ending event, would be the only thing to put the blazes out completely, she said.

In September, a season ending event happens 25 percent of the time in Northwest Colorado, District Ranger Bill Hahnenberg said at a public meeting Wednesday in Steamboat Springs.

Hahnenberg is a district ranger on the White River National Forest and helped manage the 17,056 acres Big Fish fire in the Flat Tops Wilderness.

According to the Forest Service data, he said half the time a season ending event happens in early October.

One hundred percent of the time a big snow hits Northwest Colorado by Nov. 5.


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