Scattered showers and thunderstorms through Tuesday…

Plenty of lush green grass for those cows! – Pic taken 5/20/2023

Plenty of lush green grass for those cows! – Pic taken 5/20/2023

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Sunday – 21 May 2023 – 9:00am

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature yesterday afternoon was 61, the low this morning was 41, and humidity bottomed out at 46% yesterday afternoon.

The peak wind at Stevens Field yesterday afternoon was 29mph. 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
6981 / 19843215 / 1974

Precipitation summary… Most of the county got some rain yesterday.

CoCoRaHS 24-hour precip reports range from 0.06” to 0.45”. Our friends near Chromo got a good soaking!
CoCoRaHS 24-hour precip reports range from 0.06” to 0.45”. Our friends near Chromo got a good soaking!

Forecast discussion…

Water vapor satellite this morning – Moisture continues to funnel into our area from the south. That high pressure is finally going to weaken and move east later in the week and then drier southwest flow will take over.
Water vapor satellite this morning – Moisture continues to funnel into our area from the south. That high pressure is finally going to weaken and move east later in the week and then drier southwest flow will take over.

Radar this morning – There is some light scattered precip over parts of northern NM but nothing in our area.

Highlights…

*** 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. ***

*** The cold spots will be near freezing starting Tuesday night. ***

River flow…

San Juan River peaked just over 3,000cfs last night. As of early this morning, the Upper San Juan snotel still has 18.7” of snow water equivalent (SWE). Navajo Reservoir levels haven’t been updated since 18 May. The release out of Navajo Dam is 2,800-2,900cfs. The lake has risen 40 feet from its low in late February.  Releases and inflows are starting to even out, so I think we’re nearing the high point.  Releases will continue to ramp up to 5,000cfs by 25 May where it will stay 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
San Juan River peaked just over 3,000cfs last night. As of early this morning, the Upper San Juan snotel still has 18.7” of snow water equivalent (SWE).

Navajo Reservoir levels haven’t been updated since 18 May. The release out of Navajo Dam is 2,800-2,900cfs. The lake has risen 40 feet from its low in late February.  Releases and inflows are starting to even out, so I think we’re nearing the high point.  Releases will continue to ramp up to 5,000cfs by 25 May where it will stay 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

Rest of today through Tuesday… Subtropical moisture continues to linger over the region. We’ll continue to see quite a few clouds, scattered showers, and occasional thunderstorms.

Mountain snow?  Moist, warm subtropical air is still in with us.  The snow level will be mostly above 11,500ft. Our mountains 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. Tuesday night will be a little cooler with the cold spots around freezing.

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

NWS 72-hour precip indicates 0.18” near Pagosa and up to an inch in our mountains. Reminder:  This is convective precip which is always spotty. A single shower is capable of dropping a significant amount of precip in a short period over a small area.
NWS 72-hour precip indicates 0.18” near Pagosa and up to an inch in our mountains.
Reminder:  This is convective precip which is always spotty. A single shower is capable of dropping a significant amount of precip in a short period over a small area.

Wednesday through Friday… We’re going to dry out. A more typical springtime dry, southwest flow pattern will set up. There will be a slight chance for a spotty afternoon shower or thunderstorm, mostly over the mountains, but I expect most of us to be dry.

Temps… Highs will be in the low to high 70s and lows will be in the low 30s to low 40s. *** The cold spots will be near freezing each morning. ***

Winds… Wednesday and Thursday afternoon gusts will be in the 10-20mph range and then Friday winds will be a little stronger with gusts in the 15-25mph range.

Top is Euro ensemble 15-day precipitable water.  Precipitable water is the amount of water available for precipitation. I added the red line.  It indicates our average for this time of year. It stays well above average to Tuesday evening and then starts decreasing.  Bottom is Euro ensemble 15-day Capes.  Cape is a measure of instability. This time of year, 125 or higher indicates enough instability for showers and thunderstorms. Summary: In this case, we have plenty of moisture and instability today and tomorrow.  Instability improves Tuesday but there is still a lot of moisture.  Then it stays marginally unstable through Saturday, but moisture is lacking. These are just two of many products we look at every day to try to figure out the potential for showers and thunderstorms.
Top is Euro ensemble 15-day precipitable water.  Precipitable water is the amount of water available for precipitation. I added the red line.  It indicates our average for this time of year. It stays well above average to Tuesday evening and then starts decreasing. 

Bottom is Euro ensemble 15-day Capes.  Cape is a measure of instability. This time of year, 125 or higher indicates enough instability for showers and thunderstorms.

Summary: In this case, we have plenty of moisture and instability today and tomorrow.  Instability improves Tuesday but there is still a lot of moisture.  Then it stays marginally unstable through Saturday, but moisture is lacking. These are just two of many products we look at every day to try to figure out the potential for showers and thunderstorms.

My next post will be tomorrow afternoon.

– Shawn

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Shawn Pro

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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5 Responses

  1. Those are our cows! They are very happy to be back on the ranch eating green grass. Thanks for the weather forecast we love the rain that grows the grass.

    1. Eric, That’s so wonderful to know who the cows belong to. We live in the area and always “Moo” at them! Countless times we have seen folks in that spot on Piedra getting a picture of the cows with Pagosa as a brilliant backdrop. – Arleen

      1. Yes, we are in a bit of a fish bowl, but it is a great view of the mountain.

        Michele,
        You are welcome to paint our cows if you like.

  2. Shawn, I hate to be uninformed, but what are the “cold spots” I live in Chris Mountain Ranch area just before the big Horse gate across from the Meadows. Should I bring in my flowers? On another note, if I see one of the photos you post and LOVE it, do you mind if I paint it??? I need permission to do so.

    Michele

    1. Hello Michele! Cold spots are low areas or areas subject to some sort of drainage. It can change over a very short distance. We normally forecast a 10 degree spread for low temperatures. If you are always on the low end of that spread then you are in a “cold spot”. They change from season to season. You might be in a cold spot in the summer but not in the winter. I hope that helps you.

      Thank you so much for asking permission to use the picture. It is Shawn’s picture. He’d be honored if you use the picture as long as you are not using it to profit. You can use any pictures of his. Understand half of the pictures on Pagosa Weather are Mark Langford’s and he is a professional photographer and you need to seek his permission directly for any of his pictures. Thank you for following us!

      Arleen Prochazka

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