Pagosa Weather AUGUST SUMMARY and September outlook

The current drought map shows improvement but we aren't quite out the woods

The current drought map shows improvement but we aren’t quite out of the woods

Thursday – 1 September – 3:00pm

August 2022 Summary…

The average low for August is 45 and the average high is 80. The record high of 97 occurred on 5 August 1940. The record low of 28 occurred on 30 August 1978. Precip averages 2.69″ in August – our wettest month. Wolf Creek Pass averages 4.32″ of rain and 0″ of snow.

This is what Arleen said for August a month ago…

“August is looking good for continued strong monsoonal activity. A warm bubble of high temperatures will stay in place over the southern plains. As a result, a strong ridge stays in our area. It will wobble to our west from time to time giving us an occasional dry day or two. But for the most part we will continue to see afternoon rainshowers and thunderstorms throughout the month resulting in the 3rd month in a row of above average precipitation.”

And how did things turn out? Check out these charts…

Temps in August were up to 2 degrees above average
Temps in August were up to 2 degrees above average
On the left is total precip for August and on the right is percent of average for August. I don't agree with some of the data for Archuleta County, specifically the red circle on the left chart.  Compare this to the CoCoRaHS totals below.  Val in Lost Valley at the top of that red circle got 6.35", triple the 1.5 to 2" shown for his location. Lisa in San Juan River Village on the right side of the red circle got 4.07", well above the 2 to 2.5" shown for her location. There are three CoCoRaHS reports in the left side of the red circle that range from 3.26" to 3.67", more than double the 1 to 1.5" indicated on this chart. Unfortunately I don't know why there is such a big discrepancy.
On the left is total precip for August and on the right is percent of average for August. I don’t agree with some of the data for Archuleta County, specifically the red circle on the left chart. Compare this to the CoCoRaHS totals below.

Val in Lost Valley at the top of that red circle got 6.35″, triple the 1.5 to 2″ shown for his location. Lisa in San Juan River Village on the right side of the red circle got 4.07″, well above the 2 to 2.5″ shown for her location. There are three CoCoRaHS reports in the left side of the red circle that range from 3.26″ to 3.67″, more than double the 1 to 1.5″ indicated on this chart. Unfortunately I don’t know why there is such a big discrepancy.
CoCoRaHS rainfall totals for August vary considerably from 2.01" in town to 6.35" in Lost Valley. The red half circle highlights a considerable discrepancy with the Western Regional Climate Center chart above.
CoCoRaHS rainfall totals for August vary considerably from 2.01″ in town to 6.35″ in Lost Valley. The red half circle highlights a considerable discrepancy with the Western Regional Climate Center chart above.
Total precip for the last 90 days is on the left and percent of average precip for the last 90 days is on the left. These products indicate that 6.5" to over 12.5" of rain has fallen and that the whole county is at least 150% of average.  Again there is a discrepancy compared to CoCoRaHS totals below, but it's not as pronounced. I think the purple 9.5 to 11" should be extended west and north and a green 6.5 to 8" donut hole should exist over Pagosa Springs.  Also based on the 9.75" total near Chromo, that greater than 12.5" max should be knocked down a notch or two. Note: The June, July, August total average for Pagosa Springs is 5.63"
Total precip for the last 90 days is on the left and percent of average precip for the last 90 days is on the right. These products indicate that 6.5″ to over 12.5″ of rain has fallen and that the whole county is at least 150% of average.

Again there is a discrepancy compared to CoCoRaHS 90 day precip totals below, but it’s not as pronounced. The purple 9.5 to 11″ should be extended west and north. Val in the southwest corner of Mineral County got 16.61″(!) and this map has 8 to 9.5″ for his location! A green 6.5 to 8″ donut hole should exist over Pagosa Springs. Also based on the 9.75″ total near Chromo, that greater than 12.5″ max should be knocked down a notch or two. Note: The average total precip for June, July, and August for Pagosa Springs is 5.63″
CoCoRaHS precip totals for the last 90 days range from 7.73" to 16.61", well above the average of 5.63".
CoCoRaHS precip totals for the last 90 days range from 7.73″ to 16.61″, well above the average of 5.63″.
By the way, Arleen nailed her outlook for August!

Drought and river flow…

Drought maps for Colorado. Top is the most current, bottom left is a month ago, and bottom right is from mid-June. Current drought conditions range from "abnormally dry" for the northeast part of Archuleta County to "moderate drought" in the southeast part of the county. Conditions during the last month improved one category. Since mid-June drought conditions have improved considerably!
Drought maps for Colorado. Top is the most current, bottom left is a month ago, and bottom right is from mid-June.

Current drought conditions range from “abnormally dry” for the northeast part of Archuleta County to “moderate drought” in the southwest part of the county. Conditions during the last month improved one category. Since mid-June drought conditions have improved considerably!
San Juan River flow ranged from a low of 115cfs on 19 Aug to a high of 1,020cfs on 2 Aug.  Flow was above the mean the entire month.
San Juan River flow ranged from a low of 115cfs on 19 Aug to a high of 1,020cfs on 2 Aug. Flow was above the mean the entire month.
Upper Colorado Basin lake levels. Current is on the left and a month ago is on the right. Overall the levels dropped 2.5%.  Navajo Reservoir dropped slightly over 2%.
Upper Colorado Basin lake levels. Current is on the left and a month ago is on the right. Overall the levels dropped 2.5%. Navajo Reservoir dropped slightly over 2%.

September 2022 Outlook…

The average low for September is 37 and the average high is 74. The record high of 98 occurred on 6 September 1955. The record low of 15 occurred on 27 September 1908. Precip averages 2.0″ in September with 0.2″ of snow. Wolf Creek Pass averages 4.26″ of rain and 4.1″ of snow.

The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for September indicates above average temps for us.
The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for September indicates above average temps for us.
The Climate Prediction Center precipitation outlook for September indicates "equal chances" for average precip for us.
The Climate Prediction Center precipitation outlook for September indicates “equal chances” for average precip for us.
30-day precip forecast for the Euro ensemble on the left and the GFS ensemble on the right – The Euro expects 1.74″ and the GFS expects 1.94″. The GFS is very close to the average of 2.0" and Euro is slightly below.
30-day precip forecast for the Euro ensemble on the left and the GFS ensemble on the right – The Euro expects 1.74″ and the GFS expects 1.94″. The GFS is very close to the average of 2.0″ and Euro is slightly below.

And what do we expect?

Well Arleen is the expert and this is what she says…

September marks the beginning of transition season. Also, of note, during the transition season the models really struggle. That means, Mark, Shawn, and I must carefully verify each model run.

We are now in the sputter and start phase of the monsoon. As the sun heads south for the winter, temperatures across the region cool and in turn, the ridge weakens and the easterly flow that advects in moisture for thunderstorm development gets cut off.

The first 1/3 of the month, the subtropical ridge is in place but it is to our west so flow will be out of the northwest, and we’ll see fewer and wider spread thunderstorms.

Also, as part of transition season, the polar front jet reforms to the north and we start to see baroclinic lows and frontal systems moving at us from the northwest. Around the 9th of the month, we’ll see the first low and frontal system of the season. After that we’ll be dry and cool for the rest of the month.

The Madden Julian Oscillation is finally showing signs of waking up and it is possible we could see increased activity towards the end of the month. If it’s associated with tropical moisture, we might see average amounts of precipitation for the month. However, most likely we will see less than average across the county. The lack of weather fronts with wind will make for a beautiful colorful fall season!

A HUGE thanks for your precip reports and pictures! Reports help verify our forecasts and make us better forecasters.

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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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