Pagosa, I’m Sensing a Disturbance in the Force

Sunrise view of Rio Grande Pyramid with a few clouds to come…

Sunrise view of Rio Grande Pyramid with a hint of clouds to come…

Thursday – 8 Apr 2021 – 10:00am

Overall situation…

We’ll see some gusty winds this afternoon (not blustery like on Tuesday).  With the winds there is a Red Flag Warning out again.  Avalanche danger has lowered to Moderate in the back country.

Yesterday’s high at the airport was only 62 – a few degrees above average.  Lows were in the mid 20s.  The diurnal temperature swing averaged nearly 40 degrees.  There was only an occasional gust near 20mph throughout the area.  Wednesday was a much quieter day compared to Tuesday.

An upper level disturbance is moving into Colorado from the west that will give us breezy winds gusting to 30mph later today.  Favored areas may see as high as 35mph. 

Red Flag Warning

National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning:

…RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 9 PM MDT THIS

EVENING FOR GUSTY WINDS, LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND DRY FUELS FOR

FIRE WEATHER ZONE 295 BELOW 8000 FEET…

* AFFECTED AREA…In Colorado, Fire Weather Zone 295 Southwest

  Colorado Upper East Forecast Area below 8000 feet.

* WINDS…West 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.

* RELATIVE HUMIDITY…10 to 15 percent.

* IMPACTS…Conditions could become favorable for rapid ignition

  and spread of fires.

A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.

8 Apr 2021 Red Flag Warning map

There are several red flag warnings out for today. Please use extreme caution in the back country!

Avalanche Conditions: Moderate

“Avalanche danger starts out Low (1of5) but increases during the day to Moderate (2of5) with daytime heating. Monitor how wet the snow surface gets to stay ahead of potential wet snow avalanches. Surfaces may thaw quicker today than yesterday after a marginal freeze overnight. Slopes facing east through south to west that are steep, rocky or shallow are more prone to fail as a cohesive wet slab from the weight of a rider. Steady winds above treeline should help surfaces slowly soften but not turn sloppy. 

Be aware of overhead hazards like sagging cornices and avoid traveling below cliffs with running water or slopes shedding snow. Rollerballs and slushy surface conditions more than about 6 inches deep are signs that wet avalanche activity is imminent. Start and finish early and adjust your travels if you sink deep into wet snow or feel the snowpack collapse.”

My forecast…

Today, 8 April… The disturbance in the force is an upper level shortwave that is moving in from the west.  The shortwave generates cyclonic spinning.  That spinning causes mixing all the way down to the surface.  At the same time fingers of the polar front jet and the subtropical jet are moving from the west towards Colorado.  Those features will compress the atmosphere.   

Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy with an array of fair weather cu, mid and high clouds as the disturbance moves over us.  Temps will be a little warmer than normal with high temps in the low 60s and lows in the mid 20s.  Winds today will be gusting up to 30mph throughout Pagosa Country and up to 35mph in wind prone areas.

Sat 08 Apr 0710L

A shortwave in western Utah will move east today over Colorado. With that and the interaction of few jet fingers, our winds will be gusty today. VT: 8 Apr 0710L

Friday through Monday…  The longwave ridge remains firmly in place to our west.  We’ll continue to see lots of sun.  Look for little cotton-ball cumulus clouds to develop each afternoon and some upper level clouds that transition through.   Afternoon winds will peak each afternoon in the 20-25mph range. Temperatures will continue to be a little warmer than normal with low to mid 60s for highs.  Lows overnight will be in the low to mid 20s.

I’ll have my next forecast out tomorrow afternoon and we’ll discuss some of the changes we will see next week. 

Pagosa Springs historical data

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
5675 / 1989227 / 1973

– Arleen

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I grew up in Montana where my love of the mountains is rooted. I was in the Air Force, forecasting aviation weather, for 24 years. I had eight assignments and my favorites were Colorado, Alaska, Korea, and Germany. I deployed a number of times including to Iraq and Afghanistan. After RV traveling for nine years, we found paradise in Pagosa. Here we enjoy playing outside in the spectacular San Juan mountains!
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