Spring-like weather in line for Yampa Valley | CraigDailyPress.com

Spring-like weather in line for Yampa Valley

High temperatures are expected near 50 degrees on Wednesday, Thursday

Mt. Werner is shown from the top of Howelsen Hill Ski Area on a bluebird day.
Dylan Anderson/Steamboat Pilot & Today.

After Saturday, Feb. 26, started out at minus-10 degrees, the Yampa Valley will see another extreme this week — spring-like weather boosting highs to near the 50s.

Saturday morning’s low was about 20 degrees below the average for the end of February in Steamboat Springs, but by midweek, high temps may swing far above that average.

“This is what happens in the spring,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs SnowAlarm.com. “The sun is getting stronger each day, and it’s allowing temperatures to moderate pretty quickly.”

Weissbluth noted that Tuesday, March 1, is the meteorological start of spring, a date based on weather characteristics of the time of year rather than the earth’s location astronomically.

Based on the forecast, the start of the week is expected to bring sunny skies with temperatures consistently climbing through the week.

After getting to just above freezing on Monday, Feb. 28, highs are expected to hit 48 and 49 degrees Wednesday, March 2, and Thursday, March 3, respectively.

The warm weather is being fueled by a high-pressure ridge over the West, but Weissbluth said he didn’t anticipate it would contribute to much melting for the valley’s below-average snowpack.

Despite last week’s snowfall, the Yampa River Basin’s snow water equivalent — a measure of how much water the snowpack represents — is closer to the worst year in the last 30 than it is to the median.

On Sunday, Feb. 27, snow-water equivalent sat at 13.8 inches, according to the National Water and Climate Center.

The median over the past 30 years on the same day is 16.2 inches, while the worst year during that span was 11.6 inches.

The depressed snowpack has current spring runoff forecasts for the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs at about 87% of the 30-year median.

The outlook for next three months from the Climate Prediction Center shows little sign of relief, as it predicts most of Colorado will be hotter and drier than normal.

Weissbluth said there is some snow in the forecast for the end of the week, likely starting late Friday, March 4.

“It’s going to be a storm from the Pacific that looks to perhaps mix with some cold air from western Canada,” he said. “It looks like the precipitation may start on Friday night or Saturday.”

The National Weather Service predicts the storm will start with rain and transition to snow overnight as temperatures dip near freezing.

Weissbluth said it’s too early to have a firm idea how much snow the storm could bring, but it looks like another one may be behind it.

“Possibly another storm on Sunday night, Monday (March 7), then again mid-week and possibly another storm for next weekend,” he said. “So, we’re going to be back into a stormy pattern after this spring-like stretch of weather.”

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