Best rain chances come on Tuesday and Wednesday, but precipitation is likely through the week.
The Yampa Valley will see its first monsoonal push of the summer this week, likely bringing totals nearing an inch of rain before the end of the week and cooling temperatures back below the average for the start of August.
Temperatures reached a high of 88 degrees at the Steamboat Springs Airport on Sunday afternoon, while further west in Hayden the heat nearly reached 90 degrees. Local Meteorologist Mike Weissbluth, who runs the forecasting website SnowAlarm.com, said yesterday was likely the warmest it will get all week, as the weather pattern sees a weeklong shift.
“We have a nice cooling trend that starts (Monday),” Weissbluth said. “Our average is 84 (degrees), so we’ll go from five degrees above average to average on Monday, looks like around 80 on Tuesday and then maybe the mid to upper 70s on Wednesday and Thursday.”
The cooling trend is brought on by the first push of monsoonal moisture of the summer coming up from the south, which Weissbluth said looks to bring chances nearly every day this week. The National Weather Service notes there is at least some chance for rain through next Sunday, though precipitation chances get more slight toward the end of the week.
The best chances for rain come on Tuesday and Wednesday, as the moisture is drawn up from Mexico by circulating winds from a high-pressure system currently over Oklahoma. While pieces of this moisture may arrive on Monday, Weissbluth said it is typical for the first day of a monsoonal push to be on the drier side.
“We’ll have storms, but it takes about a day for the atmosphere to really moisten enough for these storms to produce more rain than wind,” Weissbluth said. “By the late afternoon or evening and overnight (on Monday) we should start seeing some wetting rain coming down.”
The additional moisture could help catch the Yampa Valley back up to near average precipitation. Since the start of May, Steamboat has seen 4.8 inches of rain, which is below the 5.6-inch 30-year average for the area. So far this summer has been much drier than last, which had seen more than 8 inches by the end of July.
This summer is wetter than 2020 and 2021 — two years that saw large wildfires in Routt County — with each of those seeing just a hair over four inches of rain from the start of May to the end of July.
Rain chances start to taper off by Thursday as the monsoonal push is interrupted by winds turning to be from the west.
“It doesn’t look like the atmosphere will be in this monsoonal pattern for an extended period,” Weissbluth said.
He noted that this shift will be the first time so far this summer that the Pacific jet stream has enough energy to overcome a high-pressure ridge sitting over the west. This will allow for some more thunderstorms to reach the Yampa Valley toward the end of the week and over the weekend, though it is too early to tell how significant that moisture will be.
Winds will also likely bring some smoke into the area to start the week from a fire burning in California near the southern tip of Nevada. This fire, called the York Fire, has grown to 70,000 acres after starting on Friday. Smoke modeling from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Monday will be the worst day for smoke, though it could linger into Tuesday.
“This looks like probably one of the more significant smoky events we’ve seen so far this year,” Weissbluth said.
Top Photo Caption: Balloons from the Yampa Valley Balloon Rodeo take to the sky over Steamboat Springs on Friday morning, July 28.