Winds, dust, snow, pseudo-monsoon – lots going on…

Love these beautiful sunsets! – Pic taken 5/8/2023

Love these beautiful sunsets! – Pic taken 5/8/2023

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Wednesday – 10 May 2023 – 11:55am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature yesterday afternoon was 70 and the low this morning was 32. Here in the southern end of O’Neal Park our high yesterday afternoon was 67 and our low this morning was 29.

The peak wind at Stevens Field yesterday afternoon was 24mph. Our peak wind yesterday afternoon in O’Neal Park was 25mph.

*** The average last freeze is 31 May.  Temps can still drop below freezing into the third week of June with average lows remaining in the mid-30s. ***

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
6782 / 19892918 / 1950

Precipitation summary… There was no measurable precip in the last 24 hours.

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – The low is expected to track nearly over our heads this evening.
Water vapor satellite this morning – The low is expected to track nearly over our heads this evening.

Radar this morning – There are scattered showers near the low and not much else.

Highlights…

*** Streams are up again due to warmer temps. ***

*** Today will be the windiest day of the week with peak gusts around 40mph and a potential for BLOWING DUST. ***

*** Might see a couple of snowflakes tonight. ***

*** Pseudo-monsoon pattern starting this weekend. ***

River flow…

There is still a lot of water locked up in the snow in the high country.  As of this morning, the Upper San Juan snotel still has 31.8” of snow water equivalent (SWE). San Juan River, top, flirted with 3,000cfs last night. The Piedra River, bottom, peaked at 2,630cfs early this morning. On 8 May Navajo Reservoir had an inflow of 4,982cfs, an outflow of 517cfs and rose 0.68 feet. On 9 May it had an inflow of 5,791cfs, an outflow of 520cfs, and it rose 0.81 feet. The release out of Navajo Dam is going to ramp up starting Saturday. The plan to hit 5,000cfs by 25 May and keep it there for 21 days.  They’ll start ramping back down around 14 Jun and plan to be back to 500cfs by 25 June. Here’s the link for more info: Navajo Dam Project Notices
There is still a lot of water locked up in the snow in the high country.  As of this morning, the Upper San Juan snotel still has 31.8” of snow water equivalent (SWE).

San Juan River, top, flirted with 3,000cfs last night. The Piedra River, bottom, peaked at 2,630cfs early this morning.

On 8 May Navajo Reservoir had an inflow of 4,982cfs, an outflow of 517cfs and rose 0.68 feet. On 9 May it had an inflow of 5,791cfs, an outflow of 520cfs, and it rose 0.81 feet.

The release out of Navajo Dam is going to ramp up starting Saturday. The plan is to hit 5,000cfs by 25 May and keep it there for 21 days.  They’ll start ramping back down around 14 Jun and plan to be back to 500cfs by 25 June. Here’s the link for more info: Navajo Dam Project Notices

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday… A low pressure system will move through tonight and then the upper level trough will linger in the area.  There will be just enough moisture and instability to kick up spotty showers and an isolated thunderstorm or two. The best chance for precip is tonight and then there’s just a slight chance on Thursday and Friday afternoons.

Gusty winds this afternoon could send a dust plume our way courtesy of northeast AZ and northwest NM.

*** The snow level will drop to around 8,000ft late Wednesday evening so a few snowflakes are possible. At best, the lucky spots in the valley could get a dusting. In the mountains above 9,500ft, 1-2” of snow is possible, but it will be spotty. ***

Temps… Wednesday and Friday highs will be in the mid-60s to mid-70s, and lows will be in the high 20s to high 30s.  Thursday will be a little cooler with highs in the high 50s to high 60s, and lows in the high 20s to high 30s.

Winds… Wednesday will be the windiest day of the week with afternoon gusts in the 30-40mph range.  Thursday afternoon gusts will be in the 20-25mph range. Friday afternoon winds will gusts will be in the 15-20mph range.

NWS expected snowfall shows 1-3” near Wolf Creek Pass. Note that the northwest San Juans and northern Colorado mountains are favored.  Most of the precip from this system will happen behind the low in the northwest flow.  I call this the “scraps” pattern because most of the precip stays on the other side of the mountains.
NWS expected snowfall shows 1-3” near Wolf Creek Pass. Note that the northwest San Juans and northern Colorado mountains are favored.  Most of the precip from this system will happen behind the low in the northwest flow.  I call this the “scraps” pattern because we only get scraps on our side of the mountains.
NBM max wind gusts on Wednesday at 3pm shows 40mph for Pagosa, 42mph for Chama, 51mph for Alamosa, and around 60mph in our mountains.
NBM max wind gusts on Wednesday at 3pm shows 40mph for Pagosa, 42mph for Chama, 51mph for Alamosa, and around 60mph in our mountains.

Saturday, Sunday and beyond… The forecast models are consistently indicating a Rex block pattern setting up over the western US and subtropical moisture being pushed into the region from the south.

It will be similar to our summer pattern.  Mornings will start nice, and then clouds will build late each morning. The first couple of showers and thunderstorms are possible over the mountains after 11am and then in the valley after 1pm. Convective activity is always spotty – not everyone will get hit every day.

Rain could fall heavily for brief periods and be accompanied by small hail, gusty winds, and lightning. “Slow movers” are capable of dropping a bunch of rain over small areas and localized flooding is possible.

Mountain snow?  It will be moist, warm subtropical air.  The snow level will bounce around a bit, but I expect it to stay above 10,500ft. Our mountains mostly above timberline will get bursts of heavy snow, but it will be spotty.

Temps… Highs will be in the low to high 60s and lows will be in the mid-30s to mid-40s.

Winds… Afternoon gusts will mostly be in the 10-20mph range, however isolated gusts 25-35mph are possible near showers and thunderstorms.

Euro ensemble precipitable water percent of average each day at 6pm starting Saturday and ending 24 May – Precipitable water is the amount of water available for precip. By Saturday evening it’s around 170% of average in our area with higher values to the south.  By Sunday evening it’s around 200% and stays around 200% into the following weekend. It decreases the last few days but remains in the 150-170% range. This is how our summer monsoon looks.
Euro ensemble precipitable water percent of average each day at 6pm starting Saturday and ending 24 May – Precipitable water is the amount of water available for precip.

By Saturday evening it’s around 170% of average in our area with higher values to the south.  By Sunday evening it’s around 200% and stays around 200% into the following weekend. It decreases the last few days but remains in the 150-170% range. This is how our summer monsoon looks.
Euro ensemble products valid to the evening of 24 May. These are 4 of my favorite products I use all summer long to figure out convective activity.  Bear with me. This takes considerable time to put together and to explain.  The products are read left to right, and times are in Zulu. Starting with the top chart – These are 24-hour precip amounts for 50 versions of the Euro forecast model. System 1 between the blue lines is tonight’s system. After that there’s a brief lull and then the rest of the period is active with a chance for precip every day. The second chart graphs the 24-hour precip amounts.  I pay most attention to the mean. There’s a chance for precip every day starting Saturday afternoon, but it ebbs and flows.  The third chart is total precip.  Again, I pay most attention to the mean. Starting Saturday afternoon, precip is possible every day, but amounts ebb and flow.  By the evening of 24 May, over an inch and a half of rain is possible.  Chart number 4 is Cape, a measure of instability. This time of year anything over about 90 indicates enough instability for showers and thunderstorms. These numbers bounce around indicating that some days are more favorable than others.  Chart number 5 is precipitable water. May is our second driest month. Values around 0.30” are average for this time of year. Values over 0.50” are impressive for this time of year. This forecast model ensemble expects at least 7-10 days with well above average precipitable water. To summarize… This is very similar to our summer monsoon pattern.  There’s a chance for scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms every day starting Saturday.  Some days will be more active than others and not everyone will get hit every day.
Euro ensemble products valid to the evening of 24 May. These are 4 of my favorite products I use all summer long to figure out convective activity.  Bear with me. This takes considerable time to put together and to explain.  The products are read left to right, and times are in Zulu.

Starting with the top chart – These are 24-hour precip amounts for 50 versions of the Euro forecast model. System 1 between the blue lines is tonight’s system. After that there’s a brief lull and then the rest of the period is active with a chance for precip every day.

The second chart graphs the 24-hour precip amounts.  I pay most attention to the mean. There’s a chance for precip every day starting Saturday afternoon, but it ebbs and flows. 

The third chart is total precip.  Again, I pay most attention to the mean. Starting Saturday afternoon, precip is possible every day, but amounts ebb and flow.  By the evening of 24 May, over an inch and a half of rain is possible. 

Chart number 4 is Cape, a measure of instability. This time of year anything over about 90 indicates enough instability for showers and thunderstorms. These numbers bounce around indicating that some days are more favorable than others. 

Chart number 5 is precipitable water. May is our second driest month. Values around 0.30” are average for this time of year. Values over 0.50” are impressive for this time of year. This forecast model ensemble expects at least 7-10 days with well above average precipitable water.

To summarize… This is very similar to our summer monsoon pattern.  There’s a chance for scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms every day starting Saturday.  Some days will be more active than others and not everyone will get hit every day.

If a dust cloud develops later today, I’ll do a quick Facebook post. I’ll try to get another post out tomorrow evening.  After that, the next one will be on Saturday.

– 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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