Colorado weather: Soggy September

Near-record rainfall at Dillon and Breckenridge


It was that kind of month …

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — If September felt a little soggy, it wasn’t just your imagination. The official  stats from the two National Weather Service observation sites in Summit County show that it was a month for the record books.

At Dillon, there was measurable precipitation on two out of every three days, totaling to 3.86 inches of water in what is usually one of the driest months of the year. And in Breckenridge, longtime weather observer Rick Bly measured 3.35 inches of precipitation, tied with 1908 as the second-wettest September of all time based on records going back to the late 1800s. Only September 1961 was wetter, with 3.74 inches of water. Continue reading

Colorado: Winter storm watches and warnings issued for the northern mountains Thursday night and Friday

Widespread snow expected across northern mountains


An active weather pattern in the northeastern Pacific Ocean has spawned a storm that could give Colorado a taste of wintry weather in the next few days.


Here we go!

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Parts of Colorado’s north-central and northwestern mountains could see up to a foot of snow Thursday night into Friday, courtesy of a strong winter-like storm that buffeted the Pacific Northwest earlier this week and is now heading for the northern Rockies.

National Weather Service forecasters say they’re still not sure exactly how far south the storm will drop, but have issues winter storm watches and warnings for the mountains around Meeker and Steamboat Springs, east to the Winter Park area.

Before moving into the Rockies, the storm dropped several feet of snow across the higher elevations of the Cascades, along with gale-force winds. The storm’s central low pressure was lower than any of the tropical systems that have formed in the Atlantic Ocean so far this year. Continue reading

Morning photo: End of summer …



Dusk light on Dillon Reservoir.

FRISCO — Slowly, almost imperceptibly, summer is giving way — but not without a fight. Some years, a sudden cold snap at the end of August, often accompanied by a dusting of snow on the peaks, brings a sharp reminder of the fact that we live at 3,000 meters elevation. But not this year. Instead, the flow of moist, subtropical air out of the southwest has persisted, bringing moist relief to the forests of the Colorado high country. You can almost see the young trees drinking up the water. When the monsoon eventually ends, it’s going to be a rude awakening, at least for photographers who have been enjoying the rich play of clouds in the sky nearly every day. Continue reading

Climate: With no Niño — what’s a forecaster to do?

Fall and winter outlook still murky


Seasonal weather forecasters look out to sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific to get an idea of what weather patterns may bring.


Without a stron El Niño or La Niña in the outlook, forecasters are not confident of projecting pronounced temperature or precipitation anomalies.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With no strong El Niño or La Niña on the horizon, forecasters are struggling even more than usual to develop seasonal outlooks for the western U.S. The periodic El Niño-La Niña cycle is a large-scale shift in the Pacific involving a complex interplay of winds, ocean currents and sea surface temperatures.

In the U.S. the warm El Niño phase is associated with wetter than average conditions in the Desert Southwest and California, and can result in below average precipitation in the Pacific Northwest.

La Niña, on the other hand, has been linked with Southwestern drought conditions and heavy precipitation in the Pacific Northwest. That persistent moist flow off the northwestern Pacific can also favor parts of Colorado with good winter snows, but the ENSO climate signal is more marginal in Colorado than in other areas. Continue reading

Hurricane experts still see active season ahead


Hurricane Sandy as seen from NOAA’s GOES-13 satellite on October 28, 2012. Photo courtesy NOAA/NASA.

Warm ocean temps, strong West Africa rainy season boost chances for tropical formation

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal weather experts this week reaffirmed their earlier projections of an active hurricane season in the Atlantic, with hemispheric patterns similar to those that have produced many active Atlantic hurricane seasons since 1995.

Ingredients for tropical storm formation include above-average Atlantic sea surface temperatures and a stronger rainy season in West Africa, which produces wind patterns that help turn storm systems there into tropical storms and hurricanes.

The peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is just ahead, from mid-August through mid-October. Continue reading

Climate: Drought expanding again in Colorado

Odds favor above-average temps the next few months


June brought dry and warm conditions to Colorado.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After a short-lived burst of late spring moisture, much of Colorado is veering back toward drought conditions, with soil moisture declining in many parts of the state.

Even the north-central mountains, which saw above-average precipitation in late April and May, are drying out again, and parts of Summit and Grand counties are once again designated as experience “moderate” drought conditions, according to the June 18 drought monitor. The far southwestern corner of the state slipped back into “extreme” drought conditions.

And while Denver Water recently eased its watering restrictions, the drought monitor shows that moderate drought conditions have returned to the Colorado Front Range, including Denver, Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley. Continue reading

Weather: Southwest heatwave expands to Colorado

No monsoon relief for now


A broad swath of very dry air extends from the Pacific across the Desert Southwest in this June 26 NOAA satellite image.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Temperatures Wednesday soared to near-record levels in Frisco, topping out at about 80 degrees as an early summer high pressure system built into the Southwestern U.S. Average temperatures for most Summit County weather stations this time of year are in the mid-70s.

Excessive heat warnings from the National Weather Service covered a large area in Southern California and Southern Nevada, where Las Vegas reached a high of 117 degrees, busting the old record for the day by 2 degrees. There’s little relief in sight the next few days with the heatwave expected to continue. Continue reading

Drought conditions persist across much of Colorado

Colorado reservoir storage lower than last year


Drought conditions remain widespread from the central U.S. to the West Coast.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — June is living up to its history as one of the driest months in the Colorado high country, with very little precipitation in the state’s key river basins.

According to the June drought update from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the Yampa and White River basins in the northwestern part of the state, as well as the South Platte and Gunnison River basins have received zero percent of their average June precipitation. Continue reading

NOAA tallies 2012 weather disaster costs at $110 billion

Hurricane Sandy and the drought had biggest impacts by far


A NOAA satellite captured this image ofHurricane Sandy off the shore of the East Coast of the U.S. on Oct. 28, 2012. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for more information.

FRISCO — Hurricane Sandy and the year-long drought of 2012 combined caused $95 billion in damage costs, driving 2012 to be the second-costliest year on record since 1980, with total damages of more that $110 billion during the year.

According to NCDC’s 2012 weather and climate disasters information, 2012 saw 11 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion in damages. The 2012 total damages rank only behind 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages due in part to four devastating land-falling hurricanes. Continue reading

Red flag fire warning in SW Colorado


Hot and dry conditions in the Four Corners have prompted a red flag warning.

Record-high temps possible Sunday and Monday

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While a cool and wet spring prevailed in the north-central mountains, it’s a different story in the southwestern part of the state, where a prolonged period of above normal temperatures and minimal precipitation have left fuels ready to burn at lower elevations.

Parts of the Four Corners area  will be facing significant fire danger this weekend and early next week as temperatures rise to record or near-record highs. A Red Flag warning is in effect from 1 p.m. through 8 p.m. for the San Juan mountains below 9,000 feet and extending into the Jemez Mountains and the upper Rio Grande Valley of northern New Mexico.

Winds will gust up to 30 mph with relative humidity values in the lower teens combining to create critical fire conditions. Any fires that start are likely to spread rapidly, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong high pressure over the desert Southwest has already led to record highs in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and the heat wave is expected to intensify. For western Colorado, temps are expected to run about 10 degrees above average Sunday and nudge up to near record levels Monday.




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