Yampa Valley could see early push of monsoonal rain this weekend
Week will start windy, but conditions won’t warrant a red flag warning
A cold front moving toward Northwest Colorado on Monday, June 13, will bring strong winds gusting up to 40 mph to the Yampa Valley, but conditions are not yet dry enough to trigger a red flag warning in Routt County.
The National Weather Service in Grand Junction has put a red flag warning in place for much of the West Slope including Moffat County for Monday.
But meteorologist Tom Renwick said while the wind and low relative humidity would be within the metrics of red flag further east, fire officials don’t feel fuels are dry enough yet to issue a warning.
“Those three ingredients: the winds have to be greater than 25 mph, humidity’s have to be less than 15%, and that has to occur for three hours,” Renwick said. “Then those critical fuels. We obviously don’t know what that is, so we have partners in your neck of the woods to let us know, and they’re still saying fuels aren’t critical yet.”
The heat of the weekend will continue on Monday, before the cold front brings a slight chance for rain that evening and will drop temperatures back below the average for the middle of June of 75 degrees.
Local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com, said Monday’s storm is rotating to the northeast as it passes through, which is hurting the chances that it will bring significant rain, if any at all.
“Monday overnight looks like our best chance for anything, but it’s going to be better chances to our west,” Weissbluth said.
The wind is formed by an approaching low pressure system to the northwest and a high pressure system to the southwest. Weissbluth said as the two move together, the difference in pressure creates the wind. Renwick said the wind could be strong enough to blow dust as far north as Steamboat on Monday.
Temperatures are then expected to drop below average on Tuesday, June 14, with the weather service forecasting a high of 67, almost 20 degrees cooler than Monday. Heat then builds through the end of the workweek, with a high near 88 expected on Friday, June 17.
Renwick said current weather models predict a shift toward the end of the week, with two systems interacting to bring moisture from the Southwest to the Colorado mountains. Renwick noted that forecasts can change when they are still five days out, but said models have been in agreement for a few days.
“Once we start throwing out that M-word, people get excited,” Renwick said, with the M-word in this case being monsoon.
Weissbluth has seen this pattern coming for more than a week now, and said it looks like it could bring wet weather to the Yampa Valley starting Friday and into early next week.
A distinct monsoonal pattern generally doesn’t set in until later in the summer, Weissbluth said. Earlier in the season, a monsoonal pattern is more transient, less consistent and harder to predict.
If the precipitation does come through as he expects, Weissbluth said it could have impacts in Glenwood Canyon, where mudslides closed Interstate 70 for various stretches last summer.
“It starts Friday and I would say there are going to be chances almost each day after that,” Weissbluth said. “There may be burn scar concerns.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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