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Monsoonal storms hit mountains but miss Cortez

Frequent rain in the San Juan Mountains has given life to fields of wildflowers in the San Juan Mountains, such as here along the Cross Mountain Trail. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
July moisture just 6% of average; flash flood watch issued for southeast Utah

The setup for monsoonal rain in present, but it favors the San Juan Mountains more than the Montezuma Valley.

“We’re getting teased with rain that never comes,” said Jim Andrus, Cortez observer for the National Weather Service.

The valleys need it most.

Total precipitation for July is 0.08 inches, just 6% of the normal for the month of 1.25 inches.

Year-to-date precipitation through the end of June is 2.84 inches, just 58% of normal. June was a blessing, with 0.62 inches of rain, or 168% of the normal 0.37 inches. Temperatures have been hot, with Monday hitting 99 degrees, dipping to 97 degrees Tuesday, then 95 degrees Wednesday and Thursday, but no heat records were broken for the month, Andrus said.

In the coming days, Cortez has 30% chance of showers, but the high country has a higher chance for rain, said Megan Stackhouse, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

A high-pressure ridge has shifted to the east of the Four Corners, a “prime position” that allows monsoon moisture to be drawn up along its western edge into Colorado and Utah.

Heavy rains and flash flooding is expected in parts of Utah Friday through Sunday.

This weekend, it is expected to drift back west and block the path of monsoonal storms from Southwest Colorado.

However, high available moisture from the monsoonal flows will remain in the atmosphere and will produce scattered showers, Stackhouse said.

“The chance for afternoon storms has started to increase for your area. It will be more anchored in the San Juans but could drift into the valleys,” she said.

The National Weather Service is predicting increased potential for heavy rainfall and flooding at least through Friday in central and southeast Utah. A flash flood threat will continue through the weekend.

The flooding risk is moderate, a Level 3 out of five. Some slot canyons, dry washes, small streams and areas near recent burn scars are expected to experience flash flooding.