Thursday Afternoon Update–Wet Gets Wetter!

6/16/22 Thursday 2 pm
This morning, I mentioned that I hoped the trend toward heavy precipitation would continue. Two of the models, the Canadian and the GFS, are very consistent with their earlier runs. The Euro and the German model increased their totals. The German went off the rails with tropical depression equivalent totals. I am certain it will calm down in the next 24 hours I do not see the possibility of some locations receiving their entire monsoon season totals in 4 days–fun to see though.
There may be some scattered showers beginning early Friday afternoon. I am concerned about convection tomorrow. I will wait to look at CAPE values until tomorrow morning. My concern is that there may be some dry lightning prior to the atmosphere getting saturated enough for the rain to make it to the surface. The good news is the showers will build in throughout the afternoon and according to the models, should be widespread by Friday evening/night.
Some models are showing a brief lull Saturday morning others are not. Hopefully, I will see better guidance on that tomorrow and I will cover it in my afternoon update. I have not seen any discussion yet on flash flooding potential. That is usually a warning that is issued at the last minute, but I would not be surprised to see some watches issued on Saturday morning.
Here are the latest model runs showing the updated forecast totals.
Canadian
GFS
Euro
German
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Thursday Morning Update WET weekend ahead

6/16/22 Thursday 5:15 am
I am hearing and reading a lot of commentary regarding Pre-Monsoonal Flow for the weekend. It’s a good thing they are not calling it a Pre-Monsoonal System. I am still not completely convinced yet that this is the beginning of THE monsoon. That being said it would not surprise me if we look back on this the first week in July and say “I guess it was the start.” It is very difficult to time the start and easy to correct in retrospect. If that is the case, I will happily admit I was wrong.
Just like winter storms, the closer we get to the event starting the more models come into play. There are always varying solutions. The models that I usually use before a quickly approaching weather event show 1 to 3 plus inches of rain for this event by Tuesday. The biggest difference is not just the totals. It is also the depth (flow strength) of the moisture. Some of the models take the moisture into the Northern San Juans. Other models show the heaviest rain falling from the valleys through the Southern San Juans.
Here are those models’ forecasted totals from the first drop to the last.
Canadian
NOAA/SPC WPC model
GFS
Euro
German–going crazy!
Let’s hope this trend continues.
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Cool Wet Pattern Begins This Weekend

6/15/22 Wednesday 5:45 am
Models continue to show a major pattern change for this time of year, beginning late Friday. In my last post, I said that I was not ready to commit to this being the early start of the monsoon. Non-purists would say, if it looks like the monsoon, and acts like the monsoon, it is the monsoon. For the most part, that is true. There is definitely a monsoonal signature to this sub-tropical moisture. Officially, the monsoon season begins today. Dewpoints will reflect monsoonal conditions. Precipitable water values (PWAT) will reflect monsoonal conditions.
So why split hairs? The answer is because of the way it all happens. High-pressure will set up to our east. Low-pressure will set up to our west. Clockwise flow from the high pressure and counter-clockwise flow from the west will combine to draw in sub-tropical moisture over the area. I guess the best example I can give for why this event is not the start of the monsoon season is to compare it to a low elevation early to mid-November snow storm. Would that mean winter arrived for the season? Maybe, but highly unlikely. So I am going to hold off on my theory that this is not the start of our (SW Colorado) monsoon season for now. A week from now, that may change.
The purist in me which tortures my soul trying to overanalyze everything has been trying to come up with a name for this type of setup due to its unusual nature. So my first thought was to call this type of flow Pattern Induced Sub-Tropical (flow). I thought that was clever until I realized that these days you need to be able to apply an acronym to everything. This particular acronym in front of the word “flow” will probably not gain traction…
The biggest challenge at the moment is timing the beginning and the end of the event. Light showers will probably begin late Friday. It will take a while to saturate the atmosphere before the rain makes it to the ground in the lower elevations. The good news is the heaviest rain in all of the models is not supposed to fall until late Saturday into Monday. The GFS is extending the event through Tuesday but is outputting the same amount of precipitation as the Euro through Monday. Obviously, there are still some things to work out.
Here are the latest forecasted precipitation totals from the GFS and Euro from first drop to last.
Euro
GFS
There is a considerable difference between the two models. The GFS is showing a much deeper flow, forcing the precipitation into the northern San Juans. The Euro shows the precipitation trapped from the lower valleys to the southern San Juans.
The forecast amounts are still extraordinary. Half of these amounts would be extraordinary as well. To put this in perspective, especially if you just moved here from a wet climate, in the last 30 years the highest rainfall “officially” recorded in Durango in June is 1.55 inches. Looking at the longer term, There were only 8 times between 1894 and 1991 that total rainfall in June exceeded 2 inches. Some of you may remember Tropical Storm/Depression Bud that showed up during the 416 fire in June 2018. It seemed like a miracle at the time. tropical Storm Bud “dumped” 0.80 inches over the fire.
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Heads Ups–Smoke

6/13/22 Monday 2:20 pm
Three new fires started near Flagstaff yesterday. One is now over 5000 acres. One is over 1600 acres and one is approximately 500 acres. The fires have not been mapped and the sizes are approximate. North of our forecast area light to moderate smoke is present according to automated sensors. This is occurring south of the stationary front and is originating from these fires. Here is the latest surface map.
There is a pretty good chance that smoke will move south in front of the frontal boundary later today and tomorrow morning. Smoke forecast models are largely experimental during these types of conditions. As winds switch back to the southwest on Thursday we may see more smoke enter the area.
If you notice smoke overnight or tomorrow morning, this likely will be the cause (hopefully).
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Windy Today Cooler Tuesday And Wednesday With A Monsoonal Preview This Weekend

6/13/22 Monday 6:45 am
This morning there is a stationary front to our northwest. Upstream from that, there is a cold front moving through western Montana. Three things happen as that front moves east. One, the front will compress the pressure gradient, increasing the winds over our forecast area by midday today. Two, the coldest air will first move through Montana, heavy snow will develop near Glacier National Park tonight with potentially record-breaking late-season snowfall. In the park, up to two feet of snow is possible at or above 7,000 feet. Three, slightly cooler will filter into Colorado, with pleasant temperatures across the forecast area on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Here is the latest surface map.
Confidence continues to grow regarding a pattern change by the weekend. I have made a couple of hints about “an early start”. I am not sure that I am ready to go that far, I was not expecting a 3-week early start, but I would welcome it. For now, I can say that confidence is increasing we may see heavy rain of a subtropical origin with a monsoonal signature starting as early as Friday, and lasting as long as Monday. All of the models show the heaviest rain falling from early Sunday through early Monday.
All of the operational models show this pattern change. Here is the Euro’s take beginning Friday, ending at 12 am Tuesday.
The projected totals are very impressive. I internally debated whether or not to post them. If you divide the lowest projected total by 2, and no other rain falls this month (very unlikely) we will finish June with above-average precipitation. If I treat this event like a winter storm, I would likely be posting the projected totals based on the consistency of the models. So what the heck… Here are the totals from least to most.
GFS
Canadian
Euro
Fingers crossed…
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Slight Cool Down This Week–Longer Term Forecast Keeps Getting Better And Better!

6/11/22 Saturday 6 am
Thanks to those who checked in on me through email. I am fine, just trying to get through the boring weather period. Actually, it is not unusual for me to not post that often in June. Me posting in June a lot is not a good sign. In June 2018 during the 416 fire, I posted about 120 times, nobody wants that to happen again.
I got a couple of emails wanting some feedback on the upcoming monsoon season. People want to know when things are going to get going. Most people who have been here a while know it is usually around or just after July 4th. My confidence is growing that we may see a little earlier start this year, more on that later.
Short Term Update
Today, the ridge will max out, bringing the warmest temperatures of the year. Winds will be seasonally strong in the afternoon. On Sunday a trough of low pressure crashes into the Pacific Northwest. The ridge will start moving east on Sunday through Monday. In response, the pressure gradient will tighten causing gusty winds on Sunday. The winds will get worse on Monday causing very dangerous fire conditions. If this sounds familiar it is because this is the same pattern we have been in for 3 months. If we get through that unscathed, we will be rewarded with slightly cooler temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday before the heat moves back in on Thursday. Here is what that looks like on the maps.
The ridge is indicated by the warm yellow and orange colors. The trough, by the blues and greens.
I am going to end the short-term discussion right there. The models are mixed at this point but I may have more to talk about regarding a pattern change for next weekend…
Long Term Update

Each week, my confidence continues to grow that we will see an abundant start to the monsoon season. I have been on the monsoon bandwagon for at least the last 3 months. Each week, I see this trending up. Last week, people were surprised to see the projected totals. If you liked that check this out. Here are the latest totals released yesterday afternoon from the Euro Weeklies extended model.

Forecast totals through June 30th–early monsoon start?

Forecast totals through July 24th

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Saturday Update

6/4/22 Saturday 6:55 am

I don’t have a lot of info on the Bear Dance fire, but it was mapped late yesterday afternoon at 89 acres. Here is the latest map.

As always, as new information comes my way I will share it.

I don’t always share all of the non-winter information I get from CDOT, but this is a doozy. As if it is not enough of an experience to go to Walmart already…

― HIGHWAY MAINTENANCE ALERT ―
Fri., June 3, 2022

CDOT to pave eastbound lanes of US 160 in front of Durango Walmart

 Motorists will encounter lane shifts and delays   

LA PLATA COUNTY ― The Colorado Department of Transportation will pave the eastbound lanes along a section of US Highway 160 in Durango next week. The paving crew will work between the High Bridge and Dominguez Drive, in front of Walmart. Work will take place Monday and Tuesday, June 6 and 7 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. No work will occur in the Dominguez Drive intersection, at the east access to Walmart and to Durango Motor Company.

Traffic Impacts 

Traffic will be kept flowing through the work zone with lane shifts. Motorists will be guided by cones, signs and flagging personnel. Drivers may encounter periodic traffic stops and delays. A speed reduction of 40 mph will be enforced. Motorists should expect delays when accessing US 160 from Highway 3. Motorists may consider the alternate business access of River Drive located at Home Depot. Motorists are urged to watch for workers and their equipment, slow down and drive with extreme caution. This work is weather permitting.

Know Before You Go

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts, anticipated travel impacts, and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

Follow social media: Twitter @coloradodot and Facebook facebook.com/coloradodot

There is not going to be a lot to talk about with the weather for a while. I hope I prepped everyone for this over the past couple (or so) of months. This pattern is clearly locked in on the models as it has been in the extended models for quite some time.  Here is the latest from the extended Euro model showing the total precipitation through the end of June.

As I have said, June is our driest month of the year. Watch what happens when I extend the totals out through July 17th.

The end of June through July looks very promising!

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Freeze Warning For Tuesday Morning

5/30/22 Monday 2:15 pm
This is going to be very close. The models are showing 34 at DRO overnight. However, they are showing many mid-elevation areas as well as areas around Ignacio, Mancos, and Trimble into the upper 20s.
URGENT – WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND JUNCTION CO
158 PM MDT MON MAY 30 2022

COZ002-005-008-021>023-311500-
/O.NEW.KGJT.FZ.W.0011.220531T0600Z-220531T1500Z/
CENTRAL YAMPA RIVER BASIN-UPPER YAMPA RIVER BASIN-
CENTRAL COLORADO RIVER BASIN-FOUR CORNERS/UPPER DOLORES RIVER-ANIMAS RIVER BASIN-SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF CRAIG, HAYDEN, MEEKER, STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, EAGLE, EDWARDS, GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CARBONDALE, CORTEZ, DOVE CREEK, MANCOS, DURANGO, BAYFIELD, IGNACIO, AND PAGOSA SPRINGS
158 PM MDT MON MAY 30 2022

…FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 9 AM MDT TUESDAY…

* WHAT…SUB-FREEZING TEMPERATURES AS LOW AS 29 EXPECTED.

* WHERE…CENTRAL YAMPA RIVER BASIN, UPPER YAMPA RIVER BASIN, CENTRAL COLORADO RIVER BASIN, FOUR CORNERS/UPPER DOLORES RIVER, ANIMAS RIVER BASIN AND SAN JUAN RIVER BASIN.

* WHEN…FROM MIDNIGHT TONIGHT TO 9 AM MDT TUESDAY.

* IMPACTS…FROST AND FREEZE CONDITIONS WILL KILL CROPS, OTHER SENSITIVE VEGETATION AND POSSIBLY DAMAGE UNPROTECTED OUTDOOR PLUMBING.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TAKE STEPS NOW TO PROTECT TENDER PLANTS FROM THE COLD. TO PREVENT FREEZING AND POSSIBLE BURSTING OF OUTDOOR WATER PIPES THEY SHOULD BE WRAPPED, DRAINED, OR ALLOWED TO DRIP SLOWLY. THOSE THAT HAVE
IN-GROUND SPRINKLER SYSTEMS SHOULD DRAIN THEM AND COVER ABOVE- GROUND PIPES TO PROTECT THEM FROM FREEZING.

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Happy Memorial Day

5/30/22 Monday 8 am
Yesterday a few showers developed throughout the forecast area. Most areas received 0.01 inches to 0.04 inches. Ouray County showed off with totals up to 0.20 inches. It was nice to see a little rain as we enter the driest month of the year.
Tropically, the Pacific has been very quiet the last couple of years. Although the Atlantic has been more active, it is a much smaller ocean. The Pacific is the bellwether for measuring  Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). It is nice to see the first hurricane develop in the Pacific this year. High cyclonic activity in the Pacific often results in wetter than normal conditions across the southwest–fingers crossed.
Windy conditions will develop (again) this afternoon. We will see slightly cooler temperatures. We will get a bit of a break from the stronger wind gusts Tuesday through at least Thursday. Temperatures will begin warming back up tomorrow and this will continue for the next couple of days. The jury is out on the weekend forecast right now, So I will hold off on talking about that for now.
Enjoy the last day of the holiday weekend, my next update will be out in a couple of days. Thanks for following and supporting the site!

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Sunday Update

5/29/22 Sunday 9:30 am
I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. According to the models we are in for a bit of a change, beginning this afternoon. The first system is currently stalled south of Montrose. This has been the case many times this year. The trailing cold front stretches from Salt Lake to Jackson, Wyoming.
The cold front should push the first system through the San Juans this afternoon. Reaching the southern portions of the forecast area late today/tonight. There is some instability associated with this system. The morning run of the NAM 3km high-resolution model shows snow and rain showers breaking out, first in the northern San Juans and then moving south during the afternoon. Snow levels will start out above 11,000 feet but will drop below 9,000 feet overnight.
Here is that model put into motion from noon today to 6 am tomorrow.
Here are the forecasted liquid precipitation totals
As far as the lower and mid-elevation totals go, I am taking a “believe it when I see it approach”.
Here are the snow totals
The model is favoring the Red Mountain and Camp Bird areas, as well as the eastern side of Wolf Creek Pass. Temperatures tomorrow morning will be borderline for freezing temperatures, especially in the mid and high elevation areas. Models are showing 35 at DRO tomorrow morning. If you have concerns, take precautions.
I mentioned the potential for instability earlier. This is my first CAPE forecast of the season. For those of you who are new, CAPE stands for Convective Available Potential Energy. It is just an indicator of the amount of fuel is available for thunderstorm development. Anytime we see readings above 400 there is a good chance for thunderstorms.
Here are the forecasted CAPE values between 10 am today and 6 am tomorrow.
As you can see, readings peak between 500 to 1000+ well into tonight. If thunderstorms develop there is not a lot of moisture to work with. Dry thunderstorms are not fun with such dry conditions. A Wind Advisory is in place beginning at noon today. Hopefully, all of our visitors will respect the dry conditions and high fire danger.
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