High temps near 70 this week could accelerate runoff across the Yampa Valley
Warm temperatures in the day and lows above freezing at night are expected in Steamboat, Oak Creek and Hayden this week.
Spring runoff could ramp up this week as the Yampa Valley is expected to see high temperatures that will flirt with the 70s on Monday, and low temperatures at night that won’t drop below the freezing mark.
On top of the warm weather, there are multiple chances for precipitation this week that could add to the water in the Yampa River and its tributaries.
“We’re in spring for sure,” said local meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com. “The melting, the warm temperatures are obviously going to be a problem. … These low temperatures up high, above freezing, really accelerates the snowmelt.”
According to the National Weather Service, the high for Monday in Steamboat Springs is 68 degrees, though Weissbluth said some weather models have highs reaching into the 70s. In Hayden, the high for Monday is 71 degrees, and in Oak Creek, it is 66 degrees.
The average high temperature for May 1 in Steamboat is 59 degrees, so Monday could end up close to 10 degrees above average.
Those high temps will get the snow melting during the day, and then warmer overnight temperatures won’t slow it down, with overnight lows for Steamboat, Oak Creek and Hayden all expected to stay above freezing until at least Thursday night.
At noon on Sunday, the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs was flowing at nearly 1,300 cubic feet per second, which was more than double the pace of flows at the same time last year. West of Hayden and east of the confluence with Elkhead Creek, the river was flowing at nearly 6,200 cfs, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
“With all this warm weather, melt off has begun in full force,” said Dennis Phillips, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “Rivers are going to be running high and we could anticipate maybe some water issues throughout the week.”
Phillips said there will be a couple of chances for rain through the week and even some snow at the highest elevations. Those chances start on Tuesday afternoon and continue through much of the week. Those chances come with the possibility of thunderstorms as well, as the atmosphere is warm and unstable.
“We are in springtime. It’s very warm and very unstable,” Phillips said. “We’re getting to that time where the atmosphere gets unstable enough where you start to make thunderstorms.”
Thunderstorms were possible in the Yampa Valley last week as well. While Weissbluth said he didn’t notice any booming thunder, there were the gusty outflow winds and vertical cloud development that are typically associated with those storms. Weissbluth said thunderstorm chances range from 15% on Monday to 40% on Thursday.
“A classic sign of spring is we’re starting to get the chances of afternoon thunderstorms,” Weissbluth said.