Steamboat is in for a scorcher week that could rewrite the record books
It is going to be a hot week in Steamboat Springs.
Several high temperature records, some dating back almost 140 years, could be shattered this week as the Yampa Valley is forecasted to have temperatures in the 90s nearly every day.
“We’re just sitting under this dome of basically still air, and we’re baking,” said Brianna Bealo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “This heat and this anomalous high pressure is here to stay for the next week.”
Having temperatures this high before summer technically starts is not at all normal, as evident by how old some of the temperature records for mid-June are, said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com.
Weissbluth said he anticipates the 1974 record for June 15 of 86 degrees to be broken Tuesday, and an even older record from 1893 for June 16 of 89 degrees to go down the day after. The projected high Tuesday is 95 degrees, and Wednesday is 94 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The overall record for Steamboat is 100 degrees set June 29, 1990.
“We just have a giant ridge of high pressure over the West, and it is centered over the Rocky Mountains,” Weissbluth said.
|Steamboat could rewrite the high temperature record books this week (Source: National Weather Service)|
|Date||Current High Temperature Record||NWS Forecasted High Temperature||Average High Temperature|
|Sun. June 13||89° – 1918||90° (Reached 90° at 4:15 p.m.)||75°|
|Mon. June 14||92° – 1936||92°||76°|
|Tues. June 15||86° – 1974||95°||76°|
|Wed. June 16||89° – 1893||94°||76°|
|Thurs. June 17||89° – 1940||92°||77°|
|Fri. June 18||92° – 1940||89°||77°|
|Sat. June 19||91° – 1936||88°||77°|
He said there is powerful storm in the Gulf of Alaska amplifying this ridge, and some unusually persistent cold air over the Hudson Bay in Canada is anchoring it overhead to start the week.
This will lead to even warmer temperatures later in the week than record-breaking 90 degrees recorded Sunday, erasing a record for June 13 set in 1918. That isn’t going to change until at least Wednesday, when that storm pushes more air in and flattens the ridge.
These temperatures are about 15 to 20 degrees above the average for this time of year, and even when things cool of later this week, it will still be much hotter than normal.
“Fifteen degrees above average in the summer is huge — that’s way hot. When we approach 20 degrees like on Tuesday, it is likely record breaking,” Weissbluth said.
Some moisture will move into the ridge later in the week, but it doesn’t look like that will bring any beneficial rain. Actually, it could cause some problems with enough activity for dry lightning that is often the source of wildfires.
“As soon as we get a little bit of moisture, and we start getting a little bit of thunderstorm activity, we could very easily start some fires from lightning,” Bealo said.
One potential silver lining, Bealo said, is that the high-pressure system is preventing the valley from seeing much wind, keeping the air still and avoiding conditions that could rapidly grow a fire if one were to start.
That is keeping the danger lower for now, but Bealo said when the weather pattern shifts later this week, that danger will increase.
“We might get some kind of precipitation, but it is more likely what we will see is dry thunderstorms and increased fire threat, which is unfortunate,” Bealo said.
The U.S. Drought Monitor continues to predict a very dry summer for the Western Slope of Colorado and much of the southwestern United States. Currently, about 18% of Colorado is in “exceptional drought,” the highest level the monitor reports. This time last year, no part of the state was at that level.
The monitor reports that about 64% of Utah, 58% of Arizona and 33% of New Mexico are also currently in this highest level of drought, according the most recent report released late last week.
“I don’t know if we are going to necessarily see heat like this again this summer, but it is definitely going to remain warmer than average,” Bealo said.
Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, and Bealo said it has been consistent in the models for a few days now, boosting confidence in the prediction, but it is still liable to change through the week. Weissbluth said long-range forecasts are indicating some rain toward the end of the month, but it is still too early to be confident in that.
“Right now, we are hoping for a wet monsoon for July. That’s probably what the fire season is going to end up hinging on,” Weissbluth said. “If it doesn’t happen, it is going to be ugly, again.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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