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Warm weather to give way to snow

City worker Gerald Brenner uses a small front-end loader to remove mud from the bike path at the east side of Steamboat Springs Monday afternoon. Spring runoff caused the hill to slide, and City crews to close one lane of traffic in order to clean up the mess.
John F. Russell

— Unseasonably warm weather will continue into Wednesday – the first official full day of spring – but don’t count out the possibility of another powder day or two before Steamboat Springs’ ski season comes to a close.

“Thursday will bring back a dose of winter,” said Chris Cuoco, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction forecast office. “It will definitely be a change from the existing weather conditions.”

A high pressure system and southwesterly flow have brought record high temperatures to Colorado, and convertibles once again are a common sight in Steamboat. But a reminder to their owners: Don’t forget to close the tops Wednesday night.



“You’ll see at least a couple inches (of snow), maybe more,” Cuoco said.

He called the impending storm fairly significant, and although the precipitation may begin as rain, it should eventually change to snow, particularly in the northern mountains.



High temperatures are expected to be in the mid-40s Wednesday and Thursday.

The warm spell has allowed the city and Steamboat residents to get a jump on spring cleaning.

“We’re doing everything we would normally be doing, while it may be a week or two earlier,” said Jim Weber, director of public works for the city of Steamboat Springs.

Those spring-cleaning chores include filling potholes, flushing the downtown sidewalks and cleaning out catch basins. Street sweepers also were cleaning up the scoria that is spread on city roads to provide traction for winter driving.

Weber mostly welcomed the mild weather.

“On one hand, it’s a mixed blessing, but if we have another snow event, we’ll have to put scoria on the roads again that we already cleaned up,” Weber said.

Mudslides are not unusual during the spring thaw, and crews spent Monday cleaning up a couple of slides from the weekend. A small slide occurred off River Road, and mud slid down the hill along U.S. Highway 40 between downtown and Hilltop Parkway.

“There is just more water than the ground can handle,” Weber said.

With the winter’s less-than-average snowfall and the early thaw, Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale has reason to be concerned about the risk of wildfires this summer.

“The real issue is how much moisture do we get in May,” said Vale, adding that he is finalizing the annual wildfire plan.

Snowpack levels are below average just about everywhere in Colorado.

According to the National Resource Conservation Service, the snowpack on Rabbit Ears Pass is 85 percent of usual. With an early thaw, the Yampa River is flowing well above average for this time of year.

The National Weather Service’s long range climate outlook calls for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for April, May and June.

– To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com


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