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Monsoon activity expected to stay strong through September

Durango has received 7 to 9 inches of rain in past 2½ months
The monsoon rains on Thursday produced a rainbow on the east side of Durango. Weather forecasters say the monsoonal moisture is expected to stick around through September, bringing drought relief to the area. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The monsoonal moisture that has graced the drought-stricken Durango area is expected to stick around through September, forecasters said Friday. Likewise, the cooler La Niña cycle is expected to last through the winter.

Durango received 7 to 9 inches of rain from June 15 through Friday, said Erin Walter, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

An average of 6 to 8 inches fell in the same time period across the greater Durango area, with as much as 10 inches of precipitation near Pagosa Springs and as few as 2 to 4 inches closer to Cortez, she said.

Last year, Durango received about 4 to 6 inches of rain during the same period.

The wetter weather is forecast to let up and become a little warmer and drier over the next six to 10 days, but according to the NWS’ Climate Prediction Center, September will be wetter and cooler than monthly normals in Durango, following the trend set at the start of the monsoon with slightly early and abundant June rains.

The prediction isn’t totally brow-raising. Walter said September tends to be Durango’s wettest month.

The latest report from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center projects that drought conditions in the Durango area and the San Juans will improve between Aug. 18 and Nov. 30. (Courtesy of National Weather Service)
Drought conditions as of Thursday in the Durango area are “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor (Courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor)

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report, which was released Thursday, places the Four Corners in the “extreme drought” category, or D3. La Plata County is in better shape, with the southwest corner listed in “severe drought,” or D2, the Durango area listed in “moderate drought,” or D1, and the northern part of the county, including the San Juan Mountains, in “abnormally dry,” or D0.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens after this year,” Walter said. “This has been a very active monsoon. We definitely needed rainfall.”

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center’s latest seasonal assessment released on Aug. 18 says over the past month a “persistently enhanced monsoonal convection brought widespread drought relief to the Four Corners region and the Great Basin.”

The center forecast that drought conditions will improve through November in the Durango area.


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