Some monsoon moisture may arrive in San Juans this weekend
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — About 25 percent of Colorado is now classified as experiencing ‘extreme’ drought conditions, with the driest conditions across the northwest corner of the state and down along the West Slope of the Rockies, according to the June 21 drought monitor.
There’s no relief in sight the next few days, as much of western Colorado will see record and near record temperatures through the weekend, with highs expected to reach the 80s in the high country and triple digits in the lower elevations of the West Slope.
An early surge of monsoon moisture from the south could reach the area this weekend, but the forecast is for mostly dry lighting, with rain chances limited to the highest terrain of western Colorado. A slightly better chance of more scattered showers is in the forecast for early next week before a dry westerly flow returns.
Before the subtropical moisture arrives, look for several more days of dry and hot southwest flow that will generate red flag fire conditions across most of western Colorado and eastern Utah.
Critically low fuel moisture, high temperatures, winds and the chance of dry lighting create a perfect-storm scenario for fire starts that could quickly grow into dangerous and deadly blazes.
During the first three weeks of June, most of the Upper Colorado River Basin has seen less than 0.10 inches of precipitation, and large parts of the West Slope have been completely dry.
Eastern Colorado has seen a bit more precipitation in the past few weeks, with up to 2 inches in a few spots from passing thunderstorms.
Most streamflow gages on he Yampa, Colorado, Gunnison, Dolores and San Juan are flowing at or near record lows, in the bottom 10th percentile of the record. Flows at three key Colorado River gages — at the Colorado state line, at Green River, Utah and on the San Juan River near Bluff — all dropped last week to some of the lowest readings ever recorded.
Water levels in key reservoirs, including Blue Mesa, Flaming Goge, Lake Powell, McPhee, Navajo and Dillon — all dropped since the beginning of the month and inflows to the major reservoir are well below average.
Based on the forecast, severe drought conditions are expected to expand in the Four Corners region outside the San Juans. Extreme drought conditions could expand in much of the Gunnison River Basin, while northwest Colorado will be closely monitored for possible exceptional drought conditions.