Stormy Saturday?

Saturday 7/24 9 am

Another day, another flood watch. A handful of happy people with the rain they have gotten the last couple of days, and a whole lot of other people (including myself) who are frustrated watching the storms miss them.

Storms were mostly isolated to scattered yesterday. There were a few reports throughout La Plata County of just under 0.50″. The biggest totals were in the northern portions of the forecast area. Silverton picked up 0.88″ and Rico got an impressive 1.38″.

Speaking of high totals, there is a networked weather station just south and west of Marvel that recorded 4″ of rain on Wednesday. I would like to try to confirm this with the owner. I don’t usually do this but here is the location. If you follow me will you please confirm this?

For today, the latest short-term high-resolution model is showing widespread showers throughout the forecast area. In fact, this is the most favorable model run I have seen all week. We will see, fingers (and everything else) are crossed.

Here is the model run in motion from 11 am today through 6 am Sunday.

The other models are not quite as robust but all of the models are highlighting the western portions of the forecast area for heavier rain potential, especially from Southern Montezuma County and up through Cortez. Also, throughout Dolores County and all of the way up to Norwood.

It is important to note that the models struggle with where the heavier rains are going to set up. The model I highlighted above has done the best job with this.

The models are in decent agreement that afternoon showers and thunderstorms will continue through at least Tuesday. From Wednesday on the models diverge in their solutions.


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Overcoming The Flood Watch Jinx

Friday 7/23 9:20 am

The good thing about this time of year is that you never know what the weather will bring from one day to the next.  The bad news for forecasters and weather models is, at least in our area, you never know what the weather will bring from one day to the next.

Yesterday, despite extremely high CAPE values and a lot of moisture over the area, only isolated storms fired over the eastern portions of the forecast area. There were just a couple of reports of heavy rain in Archuleta County.

Today is the 3rd day in a row that we have had a flood watch issued for our area. Despite having a lot of moisture in place, we have not really tapped into the direct monsoonal flow that has been set up over Arizona, and into Southern Utah and  Nevada as well as Southeast California.

Here were the PWAT values (precipitable water) yesterday afternoon across the region. Notice the higher values indicated by the warmer tones of red, yellow, and chartreuse mostly to our west.

Here are the projected PWAT values from 6 am this morning to 6 am Saturday. Notice the slight push east from yesterday throughout the day and evening, followed by the slightly drier air working its way in by tomorrow morning.

The radar is much more active in the monsoon source area this morning than it was yesterday.

Hopefully, with these factors in place, we will see some more widespread showers develop this afternoon. If not, I think the FWJ (flood watch jinx) will be proven correct.

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Thursday Supplemental Update

7/22 Thursday 7 pm

I am going to be 57 years old.  The older I get, the more I get distracted by everything. The last couple of years have not been great. With all of the Covid anomalies.  I had some issues I  had to address this afternoon. I am sorry I did not post as promised. The National Weather Service is writing as if we are traveling down main street in kayaks. I am not seeing any monsoonal flow today.  I hope we get some of that tomorrow, That is our best chance.  It still looks like convective showers from Saturday to Friday. We are doing well on moisture. Above average for 30, 60, and 90, days. But very below for 120 days.  Depending on how things go, I will post tomorrow.

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Flood Watch Jinx?

7/21 Wednesday 12:50 pm

Storms fired early yesterday. They were more frequent in the higher terrain, most were north of highway 160. Just a couple formed in the southern portion of the forecast area.

The last time the NWS issued a flood watch for our area, rain totals were not particularly impressive. Today’s flash flood watch is for areas above 8,800 feet. I am going to leave it at that. Last time I talked about it too much and ended up disappointed. So I am going to ignore it for now. I hope we don’t encounter the dreaded FWJ (flood watch jinx).

Today, we once again have a great setup. All of the ingredients are in place. The CAPE is, for us, off the charts. These values are higher than I have seen in a long time. They persist this evening and through the night.

Here they are from noon today through 6 am Thursday.

This update is a little later than usual because all of the overnight models were indicating a later start to the action today, so I decided to take some extra time and post after all of the new data came out.

I am glad I waited because the models are delaying the deeper push of monsoonal moisture until Thursday and Friday. They are relying upon convective showers today to get the ball rolling. Yesterday, I mentioned that Tuesday and early Wednesday would be transition days into the deeper push of moisture. From what I am seeing the transition time will extend into this evening. This does not mean it won’t rain, it just means the showers will be triggered by convection rather than the monsoonal tap.

Yesterday, I posted the projected precipitation totals for this event ending Monday morning.

Both the GFS and Euro trended up slightly overnight for the same time period. I still think the Euro may be too low.


I like the consistency I have seen from the German model below.

Here is the GFS. This summer the GFS and the Euro have both underdone precipitation amounts in the lower elevation areas. Interestingly enough, the GFS is pretty excited about the totals in the lower and middle elevation areas. In the highest elevations, the GFS is showing 3 to 4 inches of rain through Monday morning.


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Tuesday Update

Tuesday 7/20 10 am

Yesterday, the short-term models struggled with the positioning of the high pressure. Rather than southeast flow, we saw northeast to easterly flow. This led to very isolated storms rather than scattered storms. Which reminds me, I have gotten a couple of emails asking me the difference between the two.  Isolated refers to the least amount of storm coverage, then scattered, followed by widespread which refers to the greatest amount of storm coverage throughout the forecast area.

Today’s forecast is once again going to be complicated. We have the ingredients for scattered thunderstorms developing with high CAPE and  PWAT values. Of course, we had that yesterday but the flow turned out to be less favorable for most of the forecast area.

This morning’s surface map shows us sandwiched between high pressure to our northeast and a shortwave trough of low pressure in western Utah. In theory, that should be a great delivery system to channel additional moisture into our already moist atmosphere. If that happens and storms develop, the weak steering flow overhead could lead to some heavy rains and training thunderstorms. Training storms are simply storms that continually form over the same area, often leading to flash flooding.

With that being said, after yesterday’s model miss, I don’t have nearly the confidence in today’s forecast as I have for Wednesday and especially Thursday. Today and early Wednesday are a transition period to getting the more direct tap to the monsoonal type of flow.

Here are today’s daily CAPE values.

Here are the “for what it’s worth” forecasted precipitation totals from the major global models ending Monday morning at 6 am.



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A Stormy Week Ahead!

7/19 Monday 9:20 am

Yesterday scattered showers and thunderstorms were more widespread across the lower and mid-elevation locations of the forecast area.

If you liked yesterday, you will like today. CAPE values are going to be higher than yesterday, and PWAT values will be similar to yesterday.

Here are the CAPE values from 9 am through 11 pm this evening. These CAPE values are going to be tied for the highest values of the year.

High pressure has wobbled a bit and the result will be storm motion from southeast to northwest. This is a bit unusual for us. It will be interesting to see which areas do the best with this southeast flow.

Tuesday we should see a slight uptick in storm coverage across the forecast area. Monsoonal flow should kick in late Tuesday night through at least late Thursday night. Afternoon storms will continue to dominate the forecast through the weekend.

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Sunday Update

7/18 Sunday 8:55 am

Yesterday, storms fired mainly north of Highway 160. Today, models are hinting that we will see more widespread coverage across the forecast area. All of the same ingredients are in place. The CAPE values are similar this morning and this afternoon. However, the models are teasing a noticeable uptick in both precipitable water (PWAT) values and CAPE late this afternoon and throughout the evening.

Here are the CAPE values from 11 am this morning through 9 pm this evening.

Here are forecasted PWAT values from 3 pm this afternoon through 6 am on Monday.

In summary, a little better chance of more widespread showers this afternoon and evening. If you miss out on these, don’t worry. Monday looks better than today. Tuesday looks better than Monday. By Wednesday and Thursday, we could see some heavy rain in many areas under monsoonal flow. Residual moisture will linger and keep convective storms firing next weekend.

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Another Week Of Rain, Monsoonal Flow Possible By Mid-Week

7/17 Saturday 8:55 am

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, moderately high levels of CAPE will mix with recycled moisture from several days of scattered showers to fuel the scattered thunderstorms again this afternoon. Brief, heavy downpours will be possible, favoring, but not limited to, the higher terrain. If the models are correct, we may see an increase in precipitable water (PWAT) after 6 pm that could lead to some evening and nighttime storms, we’ll see.

Here are the forecasted CAPE values from 9 am to midnight.

We are locked in this pattern and I see no signs of it changing to a drier pattern. In fact, by Tuesday or Wednesday, it looks like we could tap into subtropical moisture in a monsoonal type of flow. Enough so that it will lead to cooler afternoon highs and increase chances of heavy rains. Some of the models are showing the monsoonal flow cut off on Saturday. This doesn’t mean an end to afternoon showers, it just means we return to convective afternoon showers we have been experiencing for quite some time.

Here are the forecasted precipitation totals for the next 7 days. The models tend to handle these longer periods better than very short-term periods of 24 to 48 hours.  I would also add that for the most part, the models have been under forecasting the precipitation totals all month.




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Friday Update

7/16 Friday 9 am

Yesterday recycled moisture from the last couple of days mixed with moderate CAPE values to fuel a few isolated storms throughout the forecast area. A couple of hundredths up to a quarter of an inch fell. The higher amounts fell from Durango, west to the Montezuma county line.

The models are a mixed bag today, recycled moisture and moderate CAPE will once again be the fuel for isolated to scattered thunderstorms today. The higher terrain will have a better chance at storms firing today than they did yesterday.

I have gotten questions, as I usually do this time of year, as to whether or not the monsoon has started. The answer is yes and no. We have had just one or two episodes that I would describe as monsoonal flow. We have had an interaction or two with a short wave trough. We have had a couple of interactions with cold fronts passing to our north and destabilizing the atmosphere. I read the Grand Junction NWS office’s twice-daily Area Forecast Discussion. Right now, they are not categorizing rains we have been experiencing as being related to the monsoon.

Looking ahead at the models, I could make an argument for a monsoonal moisture tap beginning Tuesday. What you have to remember is that we are far enough north that the tap turns on and off.

Lately, the monsoonal moisture has been quite a bit south of the I-40 corridor in Arizona and New Mexico. During the winter, I have a saying, “sometimes it just snows”. In this case, sometimes it just rains. Not all snow is a storm, and not all rain is the monsoon.

Some folks over the years have argued with me about the monsoon. If you don’t want to believe me that is fine, but I am just telling you what the National Weather Service has been saying lately about the matter.

Here is a quote from Thursday morning. Megan Stackhouse, who is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction who authored the morning Area Forecast Discussion.


For the weekend, it looks like a better overall chance for more widespread storm development, especially on Saturday afternoon.

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So Far So Good

7/14 Wednesday 9:40 am

A number of areas had their highest rain totals of the season yesterday afternoon and evening. Most areas saw a heavy mist in the overnight and early morning hours today.

I can’t share all of the totals but I will cover quite a few. I am going to share the automated sensor totals first, followed by the email reports I got last night and this morning.

Automated data as of 5 am Wednesday:

Bayfield area 0.20″ to 0.25″, Forest Lake 0.20″.

Falls Creek 0.50″, Durango West 1 & 2 0.42″, Rafter J 0.40″ to 0.50″, Shenandoah 0.40″, Vallecito north 0.40″, Marvel/Red Mesa 0.35″.

Ouray 0.58″, Silverton 0.50″, Tamarron south 0.55″.

Skyridge 0.67″ to 0.75″.

Dolores 0.80″

Durango downtown (main and 12th) 1.13″, Lakewood Meadows 1.2″.

Deep Creek Mesa (1 mile west of the town of Telluride) 2.48″

Email reports as of 8 am Wednesday:

Bayfield 0.21″, CR 503 0.25″.

Trappers Crossing 0.33″.

Elk Stream Ranch (south of the top of Mancos Hill) 0.63″.

Dolores 0.80″, Glacier Club 0.80″.

3 miles NW of Mancos 1.0″, Animas Valley Elementary 1.0″, Enchanted Forest at 8,000 1.1″, 1.5 miles south of Purgatory 1.55″.

Today could be a complicated forecast. According to short-term high-resolution model guidance, PWAT values are starting off at around 200% of normal. They will peak around noon. Then, this afternoon they back off just slightly. After 5 pm they jump back up through midnight to over 200% of normal.

CAPE values follow a similar path. The values will be very low from noon to about 3 pm this afternoon. This means the models are expecting cloud cover which would limit surface heating. After 3 pm they begin to rise. Then this evening,  just like the PWAT values, the CAPE values rise dramatically peaking at over 1600 between 8 pm and 10 pm.  This tells me the model is picking up on a wave of energy moving through the area causing instability in the atmosphere which would lead to evening thunderstorm development.

Here are the forecasted CAPE values from noon to midnight.

For what it is worth here are the forecasted precipitation totals from now through 6 am Thursday.

I say “for what it is worth” because one thing we have learned is that during the summer the model will favor the western portions of the forecast area, only to have those totals show up in the eastern portion of the forecast area. So don’t get too excited if the map shows your area getting hit. Conversely, don’t get too disappointed if the map shows your area getting low amounts. The model handles the north and the south better than it handles the east and the west.

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