Windy again – Red Flag Warning again…

What month is it?!… NWS expected snowfall for Colorado

What month is it?!… NWS expected snowfall for Colorado

Friday – 20 May 2022 – 9:50am

Plumtaw Fire update…

As of yesterday evening, Thursday, 19 May 2022, the Plumtaw Fire report was surprisingly encouraging!

Multiple agencies are involved and aggressively fighting the fire.  For updates follow “USDA Forest Service – San Juan National Forest” and “Archuleta County, CO Sheriff’s Office” on Facebook and this link on InciWeb.

A HUGE thanks to the San Juan National Forest crew and everybody else that is aggressively tackling the fire!

Smoke and air quality this morning… The air quality sensor data is not available this morning. This morning we’re seeing mostly dust.

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday afternoon was 76 and the low this morning was 49. Humidity yesterday afternoon bottomed out at 11%. Winds yesterday afternoon peaked at 41mph at 1:15pm. In O’Neal Park we hit 36mph.

Precip summary… None in the last 24 hours.

Forecast discussion…

*** The Grand Junction National Weather Service has issued a RED FLAG WARNING valid 8am to 9pm today. Conditions will be favorable for easy ignition and rapid spread of fires. ***

*** There is an AIR QUALITY HEALTH ADVISORY valid until 9am tomorrow. 

IMPACTS…Although air quality has improved somewhat, areas of moderate to heavy smoke continue Friday morning for those areas in close vicinity to the Plumtaw wildfire, including parts of the Pagosa Springs area. Air quality will continue to improve by late Friday morning as atmospheric mixing increases and smoke lifts into the atmosphere. However, fire activity could increase again Friday afternoon potentially resulting in the redevelopment of heavy smoke late Friday evening through Saturday morning for areas near the fire and southeastward into Pagosa Springs. *** This will be the trend for a while.

*** Archuleta County and the San Juan National Forest have implemented STAGE 1 FIRE RESTRICTIONS. ***

As I type Friday morning, the system is already impacting northern Colorado and the northern Front Range.

Key notes…

Winds – Things are still on track to give us another round of strong winds. I’m happy to see that the NWS has bumped up forecast winds to 40mph and has issued a Red Flag Warning.

Precip – I’m still expecting scraps for us. The first few spotty showers will develop in our area this evening over the mountains and after midnight in the valley. The best chance for precip is after midnight tonight to tomorrow afternoon. Thankfully we’ll get a little precip, more clouds, and higher humidity which will help slow fire growth. I expect our mountains to get 1-3” of snow above 9,500ft.

Dust – Most of what we see this morning is dust. It’s fairly uniform and has no smoke odor. This dust will clear as winds pick up and then another round of dust will move in later today.

Travel – Northern Colorado and the Front Range are going to get impressive snow for this time of year. Travel will be impacted today and Saturday.  Additionally heavy wet snow will likely break tree branches and some folks are likely to lose power.

Through Tuesday the jet stream will stay near northern Colorado and keep the pattern unsettled. The northern Colorado mountains and Front Range will continue to be favored for moisture and precip. We’ll get a few scraps, but it’s better than nothing! Though winds won’t be as strong, they’ll still be gusty because the jet stream will be nearby.

20 May 2022 am water vapor
Satellite this morning: It’s dry across the Four Corners area (orange and red). The system is already impacting the northern Colorado mountains and the northern Front Range. It’s moving very slowly towards the south.
Radar this morning: A band of precip is draped across northern Colorado. It’s moving very slowly towards the south.
Radar this morning: A band of precip is draped across northern Colorado. It’s moving very slowly towards the south.

My forecast…

* The forecast periods are from 8am to 8am. *
* The forecast periods are from 8am to 8am. *
NWS snowfall through 6am Sunday – Quite a few locations are expecting 1-2 feet of snow.  Our mountains are only expected to get 1-3” above 9,500ft.
NWS snowfall through 6am Sunday – Quite a few locations are expecting 1-2 feet of snow.  Our mountains are only expected to get 1-3” above 9,500ft.
This is Euro ensemble wind gusts to 3 June at 6pm – The top shows wind gusts for 50 different runs of the Euro model.  I focus on the bottom which shows the mean of those runs.  The chart is read left to right with the most current time on the left.  Times are in Zulu.  I added the max wind speeds every day at 00Z/6PM for clarity.  Our peak winds usually occur between 18Z and 00Z. I look at numerous products for different forecast parameters. A good forecaster will then verify those products and their forecast against what actually happened.  Right now this product is handling daily peak wind gusts very well. Example: yesterday this product expected 43mph at Stevens Field and the actual observed peak wind was 41mph – that’s pretty good.  Today this ensemble forecast model expects winds to peak at 41mph and then peak in the 30-35mph range Saturday through Tuesday. Then we get a brief break the middle of the week with winds peaking around 20mph.
This is Euro ensemble wind gusts to 3 June at 6pm – The top shows wind gusts for 50 different runs of the Euro model.  I focus on the bottom which shows the mean of those runs.  The chart is read left to right with the most current time on the left.  Times are in Zulu.  I added the max wind speeds every day at 00Z/6PM for clarity.  Our peak winds usually occur between 18Z and 00Z.

I look at numerous products for different forecast parameters. A good forecaster will then verify those products and their forecast against what actually happened.  Right now this product is handling daily peak wind gusts very well. Example: yesterday this product expected 43mph at Stevens Field and the actual observed peak wind was 41mph – that’s pretty good. 

Today this ensemble forecast model expects winds to peak at 41mph and then peak in the 30-35mph range Saturday through Tuesday. Then we get a brief break the middle of the week with winds peaking around 20mph.

Pagosa Springs historical data

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
6980 / 19613217 / 1913

Mark your calendars…

Pagosa Weather is doing a presentation at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library on Thursday, 26 May at 6pm.  We’d love to meet you and answer questions!

Pagosa Weather is also setting up a “meet and greet” booth at the Ski & Bow Rack on Friday, 27 May from noon to 4pm.  Come say hi!

Call 877-841-0247 for our “dial up and text” forecast.

My next forecast post will be tomorrow.

– Shawn

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I’ve been a “weather geek” since I was young child. I joined the military out of high school and was lucky to get my dream job in weather. I have 20 years of military weather experience which includes forecasting the weather all over the world. Highlights were six years in Alaska and making life and death weather decisions during deployments. I love mountains, I love snow, and I love summertime thunderstorms. I spend a bunch of time playing outdoors and found my paradise in Pagosa Springs. I do Pagosa Weather as a community service. Hopefully you find us helpful!
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