Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Valley basks in summer-like warmth

High temperatures break, tie weather records

Express Staff Writer

Jason Nelson takes a swing on the Bigwood Golf Course on Sunday, with a still-snowy Bald Mountain in the background. Summer-like temperatures warmed up the valley last weekend, luring residents to partake in their favorite summertime activities—even as cooler weather lurks on the horizon. Photo by Willy Cook

The Wood River Valley got a taste of summer over the weekend, with record high temperatures sending people outdoors for golfing, hiking, biking and other springtime activities.

Jack Messick, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pocatello, said high temperatures on Friday and Sunday tied previous records, while Saturday's high—a balmy 77 degrees—broke the previous record of 74 degrees.

"We have been unusually warm lately," he said

Messick attributed the heat to a high pressure ridge sitting over the western half of the continent that allowed the sun to shine brightly through clear skies and warm up ground temperatures.

"Normally, this time in April your average daily high would be about 55 degrees," he said.

But don't put away the warm clothes just yet, Messick advised. The respite from cold, wet weather will be a brief one.

According to the National Weather Service forecast, showers and thunderstorms are expected today and Thursday, with windy gusts over 40 mph that could kick up dust. Small hail could also fall if larger storms pass through.

"We have a pretty good storm system moving in," Messick said.

High temperatures for Ketchum on Friday are only expected to reach in the mid-40s, with a chance of snow, especially at higher elevations. The snow level is expected to drop to between 8,000 and 9,000 feet Thursday night—below Baldy's summit.

Messick said models for the weekend's forecast are still uncertain. However, he noted, the uncertainty likely means the region won't see any huge storms.

"We're not seeing a lot of consistency," he said. "There certainly won't be any big storm for the weekend, but we're not looking for temperatures to get to record highs again."

River levels got a boost over the weekend, with the Big Wood River at Hailey rising from roughly 850 cubic feet per second Friday to 2,100 cfs Tuesday morning.

Warm Springs Creek at Ketchum rose as well, rising from 200 cfs Friday to 600 cfs Tuesday morning. Trail Creek and the North Fork of the Big Wood experienced similar rises.

The Big Wood is expected to rise to 3,500 cfs by Friday, though the Weather Service states that it should not reach flood stage and water levels will begin to drop over the weekend.

After this week's storm, Messick said, the area could expect to see a shift in airflow from the south to the northwest, bringing cooler air and more seasonal temperatures to the valley.

"We had a brief taste of summer, but I think it's over for now," he said.

Katherine Wutz:

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