Record-breaking temps wrap up hot, dry March
Ryan Summerlin April 1, 2012
Summit County Marches tend to come in like the dead of winter and go out with excellent spring skiing conditions and continued snowfall.
But the 2011/2012 season has continued to be an anomaly, with March bringing sunshine and consistently warmer-than-normal temperatures to the High Country.
Summit smashed daily and monthly records Saturday with high temperatures breaking 60 degrees, wrapping up one of the warmer and dryer Marches on record.
Breckenridge broke records on March 1, 1894, with a high of 55 degrees, on March 15, 1908, with the mercury climbing to 49 degrees and on March 31, 1907, when early spring weather warmed to 50 degrees.
But March 2012 has hovered in the upper 40s fairly consistently and twice, March 23 and 24, climbed into the 50s. Saturday was the grand finale, with some locations topping 60 degrees.
It has also been an exceptionally dry month, hurrying out a particularly dry winter season. Breckenridge got just 6 inches of snow in March, compared to a 20-year average of 26 inches during the third month of the year.
Dry conditions statewide are now causing drought concerns and have brought on wildfire season weeks early.
“It’s projected to be the driest March on record,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kari Bowen said. “The jet that usually helps bring us these systems that … bring a lot of moisture, it’s moved north so we’re getting a lot more dry air masses moving through.”
Forecasters are now carefully watching patterns on their radars they hope will bring the moisture in April that Colorado missed out on in March.
For Summit County, an optimistic forecast calls for 2-4 inches of snow by Tuesday.
“There’s a system we’re tracking that we hope will bring a little bit of moisture for us Monday and Tuesday to help with some drought issues,” Bowen said. “We’re hoping that a disturbance that has formed recently will help bring some of these systems back toward us in the next month.”
Summit County has a 70 percent chance of moisture, a possible rain-snow mix, in the forecast tonight, followed by a 60 percent chance of snow Monday, when temperatures are expected to dip back down into the 50s.
There’s a slight chance of snow through Monday night and into Tuesday, but temperatures are expected to begin to climb again by mid-week. Forecasts call for sun and highs in the mid-50s Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.