A High Country Heads Up For Saturday

Published Thursday 5/6 8:15 am

There are now 20 prizes in the contest. A couple more prizes are going to be added when I update the prize list in a week or so. The Second Annual Prize Drawing Version 3 Updated May 1st

On Saturday a system will pass to our north and may trigger some thunderstorms in the mountains Saturday afternoon with snow around 11,000 feet.

Details

The ridge of high pressure will max out today. The ridge will begin breaking down tomorrow as a system moves into the Pacific Northwest. This system will continue moving east throughout the day on Friday. By Saturday, it will stretch from Canada through Wyoming and into Utah. The tail end of the system will move from Utah into Western Colorado and will lead to some afternoon convection. The higher elevations above 9,000 feet will be favored for afternoon thunderstorms. Snow will be possible around 11,000 feet, however in heavier showers the snow level could drop to 9,500 feet.

At this time I don’t see this producing any beneficial moisture in the lower elevations. Gusty winds will develop Saturday and Sunday, stronger than we have been experiencing so far this week. Temperatures will peak today and Friday. Saturday and Sunday temperatures will moderate by 5 to 10 degrees with lower elevations back down to around 70 degrees.

The models diverge beginning Sunday night into Monday. The Euro is currently showing light showers developing Monday mainly in the high country. The GFS and Canadian are showing a system close off across our region with a better chance of showers developing across the forecast area. This is unusual, the GFS is usually faster with systems moving across the region. The Euro’s bias is to try to close systems across the area with increased chances of precipitation. In other words, these models are acting the opposite of their normal biases.

As always, I will be keeping an eye on the situation and will post again when I see models change course in either direction.

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The Monsoon Outlook–First Look

Published 5/5/21 4:15 am

There are now 20 prizes in the contest. A couple more prizes are going to be added when I update the prize list in a week or so. The Second Annual Prize Drawing Version 3 Updated May 1st

Monsoon Outlook

The last couple of years I did not post any type of Monsoon outlook. Ever since I moved to Colorado nearly 30 years ago I have heard about the Southwest monsoon.  Being a meteorological nerd, it never sat well with me. I have always thought that the version of the monsoon we get in Colorado is an indirect by-product of the actual southwest monsoon which affects Arizona, New Mexico, and portions of Texas.

The best formal definition I have read of the monsoon is as follows:

“The North American monsoon happens once a year, usually in the middle of summer. Warm, moist air from the Gulf of California blows northeast, while warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico blows northwest. These two winds meet over the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains in central Mexico. The monsoon brings moisture to the mountain ecosystem before continuing north to the U.S. states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.” This was from National Geographic.

Notice, they don’t mention Colorado in that definition. Over the years, it has been a losing fight to call the “monsoon” in Colorado anything other than the monsoon. It is too ingrained in people’s minds. So if it is not the monsoon, what is “it”?

In my opinion, the southwest monsoon is a result of the increased moisture that flows out of those states into Colorado. The moisture combines with daytime heating and increased convection. This results in moderate to heavy rain and thunderstorms. Some meteorologists that share my opinion call these high heat-based thunderstorms.

I have a similar line of thinking when it comes to named tropical storms. When a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall, then travels inland a couple of hundred or more miles and becomes a tropical depression, they are no longer a hurricane. Yet, if you watch weather TV, they continue to call it by its named status for days after landfall.

A good example of this was Tropical Storm Bud. The remnants of this storm in June of  2018 finally brought some relief to our area during the 416 fire. News stories all talked about how Tropical Storm Bud slowed the progression of the fire. In reality, it was the remnants of the storm which fueled heavy rains over the area. It was not the storm itself as it was originally named.

Here was the last position of Tropical Storm Bud according to the National Weather Service.

Speaking of tropical storms, they also contribute indirectly to the “monsoon”. If you asked a dozen people about last year’s hurricane and tropical cyclone season, I bet every person would answer that it was one of the worst on record. This is only partially true. The Atlantic hurricane season was by far not the worst season on record but it was above average. It got a lot of attention. What you may not know is that the Atlantic tropical season is a small portion of the global tropical cyclone season. The Pacific is king when it comes to tropical cyclones. Last year was one of the lowest ranking Pacific tropical seasons ever. The southwest US relies on remnants of a couple of recurving tropical cyclones per year for precipitation. We got no relief with that last year.

The Euro model is known as the ECMWF. It is not only a model, it is Europe’s equivalent of our National Weather Service, The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.

In addition to the model I always reference in my updates, which is updated 4 times per day. It also has a weekly model which updates twice a week and a seasonal model which updates monthly. While I have my frustrations with the short-term Euro model when it comes to light precipitation events, the long-range weekly and seasonal models are much more accurate when it comes to precipitation trends than any other model I have seen. Since February, the seasonal model has been indicating above-average precipitation anomalies for our area for June-August and July-September. Not only for us but for much of the southwest US.

The green areas indicate above-normal precipitation. The white areas show average precipitation. The brown areas indicate below normal precipitation.

Here are the anomalies for June-August.

Here are the anomalies for July-September.

If you break this out by month it shows average precipitation in June, above average for July and August, and slightly below average for September.

Whether you want to call it the monsoon, the nonsoon, or high heat-based thunderstorms, this model says we are going to get more of it this year.

When we have one, our rainy season usually starts around the first or second week in July. Because the model is showing positive precipitation anomalies for July and August I would say that we are going to have an above-average “monsoon” season!

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A Repeat Of Last Week

Published Tuesday 5/4 at 7:35 am

There are now 20 prizes in the contest. If you have not seen it yet, here are the contest details with the updated prize list. The Second Annual Prize Drawing Version 3 Updated May 1st

Yesterday was a mixed bag. The sun broke through and aided in convection. Thunderstorms produced graupel in several areas. Snow fell in the higher elevations. As expected, areas further north did better with rain actually making it to the ground. At my house, there was rain and graupel, for about 26 seconds…

This week is going to end up looking a lot like last week. The ridge is going to build back in. Temperatures will be on the increase. A couple of systems will brush by to our north that will increase the pressure gradient causing windy conditions. The thermal pressure gradient will increase in the afternoons also leading to windy conditions.

Things could change next week as the ridge collapses and much of the northern half of the US will see below-average temperatures with the large pattern change.

The weather should be boring until the weekend. The GFS is trying to bring in spotty afternoon showers for the weekend. The Euro is holding off until Monday. I will be watching to see if anything comes together before then. If the long-term models are correct for the 10 day period beginning on Monday, May 10th, the weather could be interesting for people traveling back and forth between our region and the Front Range.

Tomorrow, I am going to do something I have not done in a while. I am going to write about the upcoming monsoon season. I will have that out by Wednesday afternoon.

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Monday Update

Published 5/3/21 at 8:40 am

On Saturday the prize list was updated for the contest. There are now 20 prizes! If you are a business owner and want to participate, you have until Thursday, May 20th to contact me. Here are the contest details with the updated prize list. The Second Annual Prize Drawing Version 3 Updated May 1st

Yesterday, I mentioned the importance of the position of the low-pressure area. While scattered showers will be possible throughout the day, the best precipitation will fall to our north. Grand Junction down to Montrose should do very well.

The models this morning are showing the best chances of precipitation for today above 7,000 feet especially north of 160.

Euro

NAM 3km

GFS

German

National Weather Service blended model

Very noticeable on those last three models is the dreaded “Durango donut”. For those of you new to the area, this means that almost all of the good stuff occurs outside of the “donut hole”.

What could change that is a couple of pop-up thunderstorms. Even without decent surface heating, the sun angle is equivalent to early August right now. There is plenty of instability overhead and CAPE values are going to be elevated today. Elevated CAPE values can lead to thunderstorm development.

CAPE values

I usually look for values above 450. Most of the lower and mid-elevations areas will be in that range from noon to 4 pm.

If you are in an area where thunderstorms develop today let me know.

Next update Tuesday, thanks for following and participating in the contest!

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Cooler and Wetter For Monday

Published at 6:30 am Sunday

Yesterday the prize list was updated for the contest. There are now 20 prizes! If you are a business owner and want to participate, you have until Thursday, May 20th to contact me. Here are the contest details with the updated prize list. The Second Annual Prize Drawing Version 3 Updated May 1st

A trough of low pressure and associated cold front are draped over Utah this morning.

If it looks familiar, there is a reason. We had a similar placement of a trough last Monday. Here was the surface map 4/26.

The system is going to move southeast throughout the day and should get hung up along the I-70 corridor. Later tonight the system will start to slowly move south before it starts to affect the NW San Juans by very early tomorrow morning. Spotty precipitation should develop in the low and mid-elevations throughout the morning on Monday.

In response to the system approaching the area, the pressure gradient will tighten and gusty winds will develop across the area. Yesterday the winds had more of a thermal gradient influence, which is common this time of year. Today the winds will have not only the seasonal thermal gradient but also the pressure gradient affecting the region. This will lead to higher wind gusts today than we have seen the last couple of days.

As has been the case the models are still trying to get a handle on precipitation amounts. For now, I just want to focus on the Euro and NAM high-res model. The precipitation pattern they are showing is hinting at a convective element (thunderstorm potential) developing on the west side of the forecast area (Hesperus to Cortez) which then extends into the La Platas and San Juans this afternoon.

On Monday the convection extends into all of the lower and mid-elevation areas in the forecast area south of the San Juans.

Here are the snow and liquid precipitation forecasts through late Monday.

Euro liquid

Euro snow (before melting)

Nam 3km liquid

Nam 3km snow (before melting)

I am not sure that I favor either of these model runs this morning, but they are the most similar in how they produce the precipitation. The NWS is hinting that the low pressure may close off across the region. Depending on its placement, it could enhance the overall precipitation totals.

Next update Monday morning, thanks for following and participating in the contest!

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The Second Annual Prize Drawing Version 3 Updated May 1st

Released at 4 am Saturday May 1st

The prize list is towards the bottom of this post. As it stands right now, your chances to win are much higher than last year because participation is down from last year!

The Story Behind The Contest

If you are a new follower and just joined us in the last 9 months or sooner, you may not be aware of the contest we had last year. We were in the early stages of Covid 19. Businesses had abruptly shut down and we were shopping empty supermarkets looking for toilet paper. At the time, we were under the impression that the shutdowns were temporary and that we would resume our normal lives soon. My thought was that I would have a contest and do a drawing for cash prizes that people could spend at local businesses as they opened up.  Fast forward over a year and although some restaurants and small businesses are getting closer to getting by, they are not thriving. With 49% of La Plata County at least partially vaccinated, hopefully, things will be getting back to normal, or at least we will have fewer restrictions soon.

Much of what I do on this site is based upon feedback I get from followers. I thought about the contest a couple of months ago, but no one had asked about it. Then 6 weeks ago, almost one year from the day we started the contest last year, I started getting emails from people asking me when (not if) I was going to start this year’s contest. After a lot of emails, I determined there was enough interest to do it again.

The Prize List

Cash 7 Prizes

A $250 prize. A $150 prize. A $100 prize. (2) $75 prizes and (2) $50 prizes.

Food 10 Prizes

(2)  $50 gift cards from Eolus (two winners). https://www.eolusdurango.com/ (2) $50 gift cards (two winners) from PJ’s Market https://pjsgourmetmarket.com/ (2) $50 gift cards (two winners) from Peak Beverage which can be used at any of their three locations:  Steamworks, El Moro, or Bird’s. https://www.birdsdurango.com/ https://steamworksbrewing.com/  https://elmorotavern.com/    (1 )$25 gift card from Zia Taqueria  https://ziataqueria.com/  (1) $25 gift card from Sage Farm Fresh Eats https://sagefarmfresheats.com/  (2) $20 gift cards (two winners) form Silver Bean coffee shop https://www.facebook.com/thesilverbean/

Other Good Stuff 3 Prizes

(1) $100 gift card/certificate from Four Seasons Greenhouse and Nursery, Inc. https://fourseasonsgreenhouse.com/  (1) $60 massage therapy gift certificate from Pine River Chiropractic  https://www.prchiro.com/  (1) 1-night stay at a “mountain glamping tipi” https://www.durangolikealocal.com/ Which would be a perfect gift to share with family when they come to visit you this summer!

The drawing for the contest will be Tuesday, May 26th. That is less than a month from now.

If you have a local business and want to participate just shoot me an email.

All you have to do to enter is donate. Within 24 hours I will send you an email confirming your entry.

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A Pleasant Weekend Ahead

Published Friday 4/30 at 8:00 am

I am going to publish the updated prize list on Saturday, May 1st. More restaurant gift cards and more cash. Overall, there are going to be a lot more chances to win than last year!

No surprises yesterday. The ridge of high pressure really builds in today and Saturday. Warmer temperatures today, even warmer on Saturday. Sunday’s highs will cool down slightly. Elevations below 7,000 feet should see low to mid-70s today and upper 70s on Saturday. Then slightly cooler on Sunday with temps reaching the low 70s. Sunday will be the windiest day this weekend.

Models are trending towards slightly higher precipitation totals with the next system. The models are not in good agreement with timing the arrival of the impacts from the system. They vary from Sunday evening to Monday morning. I expect these details to be ironed out by my next weather update this weekend.

Thanks for following and participating in the contest!

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Click here and donate for your chances to win!

Click here to contact

Click here and donate for your chances to win!

Click here to contact

Here Comes The Warm Up

Published Thursday 4/29 at 7:45 am

I am going to publish the updated prize list on Saturday, May 1st. More restaurant gift cards and more cash. Overall, there are going to be a lot more chances to win than last year.  Check out the current details here:  The Second Annual Contest Drawing–New Prizes Added

Yesterday, the clouds moved in and suppressed the surface heating. Most of the thunderstorms occurred in Northern New Mexico.

Things are going to quiet down for a couple of days and warm up. The wind will become a factor again especially by Sunday. By late Sunday afternoon or evening, showers are going to return, carrying into Monday.

The showers will start in the higher elevations and then spread over the mid and lower elevations. It is too early to talk about accumulations. The models vary in track and timing, but they all see the system moving through.

If you are planning to travel into the Central Mountains en route to Denver and the Front Range, there may be some travel issues during the day on Monday.

Next Update Friday morning. Thanks for following and participating in the contest!

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Wednesday Update

Published Wednesday 4/28 at 8:30 am

The contest prizes were updated Saturday. Two cash prizes were added for a total of five.  Four gift cards/certificates were also added. I am going to update the prize list on Saturday. More restaurant gift cards, and more cash.  Check out the details here:  The Second Annual Contest Drawing–New Prizes Added

Elevated CAPE values with enhanced instability led to several pop-up storms yesterday afternoon.  Atmospheric conditions aren’t as favorable as yesterday. However, the CAPE values are higher today. There is less cloud cover which will lead to better heating. Heat is energy, so some more spotty showers may develop again this afternoon. High CAPE values don’t guarantee thunderstorms will occur, but they certainly are a factor. Here are the maximum CAPE values today.

The high values will occur between 1-4 pm today. The snow level this afternoon should fluctuate between 9,500 and 11,000 feet. Under a heavy shower, those snow levels can fall dramatically.

The warm-up will start tomorrow. By Saturday most locations will hit the mid to upper 70’s. Low 80’s are not out of the question for some of the lower elevations closer to the New Mexico border. Sunday things will cool slightly, just a few degrees.

Looking out to next week, another system is going to drop into the area. It is too early to determine the exact track or think about precipitation amounts.

Next Update Thursday. Thanks for following and participating in the contest!

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Spotty Showers Today

Published Tuesday 4/27 at 8:40 am

The contest prizes were updated Saturday. Two cash prizes were added for a total of five.  Four gift cards/certificates were also added. I am going to be updating the prizes on Saturday. More restaurant gift cards, and more cash.  Check out the details here:  The Second Annual Contest Drawing–New Prizes Added

When I woke up to snow this morning I felt like I missed a flight. I mentioned the problems with the models yesterday. The only thing they vaguely agreed on was timing. It turns out that despite their agreement, they were all wrong. Not one of them showed snow down to 7,400 feet early in the morning. Overnight, while no one was paying attention, the models corrected and showed the lower elevation snow and rain early.

The morning high-resolution models, which are usually fairly accurate out to 12 to 18 hours, show snow continuing in the higher elevations. They show spotty snow showers in the mid-elevations transitioning to spotty rain showers. There is going to be plenty of CAPE available to create thunderstorms by late morning through the afternoon. The best chances will be in the mid and higher elevations throughout the region as well as areas from Hesperus to Pagosa Springs.

Precipitation totals look light today. If someone is lucky enough to end up under a thunderstorm, they may very well be able to pick up some decent totals. Trying to determine exactly where that will occur is nearly impossible. That is why the National Weather Service only issues severe thunderstorm warnings after they form.

Speaking of decent totals, the one place in the state that looks to get pounded (again) is the Front Range. Heavy rain and mid-elevation (foothills) will pick up throughout the day and this evening.

For tomorrow the models are showing another day of unsettled weather developing.

For what it’s worth here are the high-resolution precipitation and snow totals.

Liquid

Snow

Looking at these maps, it is impossible for my eyes not to drift to the Front Range and see those big totals.

My next Update will be Wednesday morning. Hopefully, I won’t miss my flight.

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