Hints of the monsoon towards the end of the month…

Sun shining off the Piedra River yesterday morning – pic taken 7/8/2023

Sun shining off the Piedra River yesterday morning – pic taken 7/8/2023

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Sunday – 9 Jul 2023 – 3:30pm

The past…

At Stevens Field the high temperature yesterday afternoon was 84 and the low this morning was 45. Humidity bottomed out at 12% yesterday afternoon.

The peak wind at Stevens Field yesterday afternoon was 33mph. Here in O’Neal Park we had a peak wind of 47mph! We weren’t home when it happened, but the most likely cause was a dust devil.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
8496 / 19894428 / 1912

Precipitation summary… No precip was reported in the last 24 hours.

Fire updates…

Chris Mountain Fire on Inci Web: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident-information/cosjf-chris-mountain-fire

Chris Mountain Fire on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100094353994683

Fire Weather and Avalanche Center: https://www.fireweatheravalanche.org/fire/

Fire and Smoke map: https://fire.airnow.gov/

Archuleta County, CO Sheriff’s Office: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068416028570

Forecast discussion…

GeoColor satellite this afternoon – It’s dry over most of the southwest US.  A few little cumulus clouds developed over the higher terrain of AZ and NM, indicative of a little more instability and a lack of moisture. The low over CA has very little moisture.  It will move northeast and weaken as it moves through northwest CO on Monday.
GeoColor satellite this afternoon – It’s dry over most of the southwest US.  A few little cumulus clouds developed over the higher terrain of AZ and NM, indicative of a little more instability and a lack of moisture. The low over CA has very little moisture.  It will move northeast and weaken as it moves through northwest CO on Monday.

There is nothing on radar in our area this afternoon.

Forecast Highlights…

*** There are currently no Red Flag Warnings, but FIRE DANGER IS HIGH and will gradually get worse as the fuels continue to dry out. ***

Fire danger high

*** Winds will gust 25-30mph Monday and Tuesday afternoons. ***

Rest of Today through Saturday… The subtropical ridge will wobble between southern NM and southern CA through the week and keep us dry. Monday is the exception as a weak trough slides to our north.  Instability will increase but moisture will be minimal.  A spotty shower or thunderstorm is possible late Monday morning into the afternoon, mostly over the mountains. Isolated erratic gusty winds and lightning are also possible. By Wednesday the good news is that the upper level gradient will weaken a little resulting in slightly weaker afternoon winds.

Temps… Lows tonight will be in the low 40s to low 50s. Monday through Saturday highs will be in the mid-80s to mid-90s. The warm spots will flirt with 100. Lows will be in the low 40s to low 50s.

Winds… Monday and Tuesday afternoons afternoon peak winds will be in the 25-30mph range. Wednesday through Saturday afternoon winds will peak in the 20-25mph range.

NBM precip to late Saturday evening shows less than 0.05” over some parts of Archuleta County.  This is spotty convective precip that falls on Monday.
NBM precip to late Saturday evening shows less than 0.05” over some parts of Archuleta County.  This is spotty convective precip that falls on Monday.

The next 15 days?  Monsoon?… Weak monsoon moisture could start moving into the area on or slightly after 18 Jul. Things will start slowly with storms more likely to cause erratic gusty winds and lightning, than rain. The good news is that the long range models continue to hint that the monsoon will finally kick into gear during the last week of July!

On the top is Euro ensemble precipitable water.  On the bottom is Cape.  These are 15-day forecast products that go out to the morning of 24 July. These graphs are read left to right, and times are in Zulu. They are some of my favorite products to help forecast monsoon conditions.  Let’s start with the top: precipitable water.  Precipitable water is the amount of moisture available for precip in a vertical column. The top graph shows precipitable water amounts for 50 different runs of the forecast model. I put a blue box over the higher, more encouraging values towards the end of the period. The chart just under that one graphs the mean of the 50 model runs. 0.60”, the yellow line, is about the minimum for showers in our area this time of year.  0.80”, the red line, is better, but is still low. The bottom chart is Cape.  Cape is a measure of instability. The tops shows Cape values for 50 different model runs. I put a blue box around the end of the forecast period to line up with the precipitable chart above.  The bottom chart graphs the mean of the 50 model runs. 100, the yellow line, is about the minimum for showers or thunderstorms in our area this time of year. 150, the red line, is better, but still on the low side.  So what do these tell me?  Monday moisture sneaks above 0.60”, but Cape is only 50.  Based on satellite today, I think moisture is lower than 0.60” so my expectation for showers or thunderstorms is very low. The next interesting period is next weekend. Capes are around 100, but precipitable water is only around 0.40”. Right now I don’t expect any precip, but I have to keep an eye on this period for any changes. The final period is the one I highlighted with the blue boxes. Precipitable water finally creeps up to 0.80” that last few days. This is still marginal, but it is an encouraging trend. The bottom chart has 4 days with Capes over 150 – also an encouraging trend. These plus other products like 500mb flow and moisture point to our first surge of monsoon action.  It will be a slow start, but it is encouraging.
On the top is Euro ensemble precipitable water.  On the bottom is Cape.  These are 15-day forecast products that go out to the morning of 24 July. These graphs are read left to right, and times are in Zulu. They are some of my favorite products to help forecast monsoon conditions. 

Let’s start with the top: precipitable water.  Precipitable water is the amount of moisture available for precip in a vertical column. The top graph shows precipitable water amounts for 50 different runs of the forecast model. I put a blue box over the higher, more encouraging values towards the end of the period. The chart just under that one graphs the mean of the 50 model runs. 0.60”, the yellow line, is about the minimum for showers in our area this time of year.  0.80”, the red line, is better, but is still low.

The bottom chart is Cape.  Cape is a measure of instability. The tops shows Cape values for 50 different model runs. I put a blue box around the end of the forecast period to line up with the precipitable chart above.  The bottom chart graphs the mean of the 50 model runs. 100, the yellow line, is about the minimum for showers or thunderstorms in our area this time of year. 150, the red line, is better, but still on the low side. 

So what do these tell me?  Monday moisture sneaks above 0.60”, but Cape is only 50.  Based on satellite today, I think moisture is lower than 0.60” so my expectation for showers or thunderstorms is very low. The next interesting period is next weekend. Capes are around 100, but precipitable water is only around 0.40”. Right now I don’t expect any precip, but I have to keep an eye on this period for any changes. The final period is the one I highlighted with the blue boxes. Precipitable water finally creeps up to 0.80” that last few days. This is still marginal, but it is an encouraging trend. The bottom chart has 4 days with Capes over 150 – also an encouraging trend. These plus other products like 500mb flow and moisture point to our first surge of monsoon action.  It will be a slow start, but it is encouraging.

My next post will be Tuesday afternoon.

– 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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