Weekend storms to bring summer snow to Steamboat area mountains | SteamboatToday.com

Weekend storms to bring summer snow to Steamboat area mountains

Storm clouds move in over Mount Werner on Thursday afternoon.
Eleanor C. Hasenbeck

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Though we’re a day away from the summer solstice, you might wear a rain jacket instead of sunglasses this weekend.

A rainy weekend will bring showers and thunderstorms to the Yampa Valley floor, but snow is in the forecast for areas at 10,000 feet or higher.

“We’re going to have pretty good rain overnight (Thursday) and through (Friday), with accumulating snow above 10,000 feet and snowflakes maybe even down to 9,000,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs snowalarm.com, on Thursday.  

Rain turning to snow at higher elevations is in the forecast all weekend.

Weissbluth said the front that moved into the area Thursday afternoon will stall over Routt County, bringing with it steady rain overnight Thursday into the day on Friday.

A second front will move into the area Saturday afternoon or evening, Weissbluth said.

“It’s going to be cold and even colder behind that front for Saturday night into early Sunday, Weissbluth said. Snow will again accumulate above 10,000 feet, with possible snowflakes at 9,000 feet.

This snow could impact highway travel over the higher mountain passes in northern Colorado on Friday, then move south to impact the Interstate 70 corridor on Saturday night, Weissbluth said. At 9,426 feet, Rabbit Ears Pass might not be so snowy.

While the rainfall might let up slightly Sunday, showers are in the forecast until Sunday night.

“The weather out of this storm is not going to end until probably after the weekend, probably Sunday evening sometime by midnight,” Weissbluth said. “And then, our long-awaited summer will arrive in force next week.”

Temperatures this weekend are expected to remain around 50 degrees Friday and Saturday, with a high of 61 degrees Sunday.

“It’s an unseasonably cold system, and really, this is right in line with what we’ve experienced pretty much this entire spring,” Weissbluth said.

Preliminary data from the National Weather Service indicates this May has been cooler and wetter than average. This year’s average May temperature of 45.1 degrees was 3.7 degrees cooler than the long-term normal of 48.8.

Steamboat Springs received 4.26 inches of water in May, nearly double the norm of 2.24 inches. The 9.3 inches of snow the area received in May is more than three times greater than the May normal of 2.5 inches.

So far, June is trending at average temperatures, but the area is exceeding the long-term average with 1.67 inches of water so far this month, compared to 1.36 inches the area has usually received in the first 20 days of June.

“It’s been colder and wetter than average, and that’s exacerbated by the past few summers being warmer and drier than average,” Weissbluth said. “We have a double whammy here.”

But, Weissbluth said the Yampa Valley could soon swap the wet, cold spring weather for warmer monsoon moisture, which is typical of summer.

Behind these storms, Weissbluth said a ridge of warm, dry weather will hang over the West in the coming week. That ridge could bring summer monsoons north to New Mexico next week, though he wasn’t sure that would swing up to Colorado.

“I’d like to say that this will likely mark the end of these cold and wet systems coming across the West, but I’m not sure I could say that with certainty,” he said.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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