Pagosa Weather JULY SUMMARY & August Outlook

Current drought map

Southwest Colorado is going backwards on the drought map

Tuesday – 1 Aug 2023 – 3:00pm

July Summary…

The average high for July is 83 – our warmest month – and the average low is 44. The record high of 99 occurred on 7 July 1989. The record low of 24 occurred on 5 July 1912. Precip averages 2.01″ in July. Wolf Creek Pass averages 3.61″ of rain and zero snow.

How did we do?

Temps in Archuleta County were 1-5 degrees above average.  Our nearby mountains were 5-7 degrees above normal.
Temps in Archuleta County were 1-5 degrees above average. Our nearby mountains were 5-7 degrees above normal.
Precip in Archuleta County was 1-10% of average. Eastern Colorado did pretty good.
Precip in Archuleta County was 1-10% of average. Eastern Colorado did pretty good.

July precip totals range from zero to 0.76" with an overall average of 0.13" - well under the climatological average of 2.01".
July precip totals range from zero to 0.76″ with an overall average of 0.13″ – well under the climatological average of 2.01″.

Drought, River Flow, and Lake Levels…

Southwest Colorado is considered "abnormally dry".  The rest of the state is drought free.
Southwest Colorado is considered “abnormally dry”. The rest of the state is drought free.
San Juan River flow started at over 600cfs in July and has dipped to near 100cfs in last few days. After spending most of the month above the median flow, it dropped below late in the month.  Note the big spike last year caused by good monsoon rains. Piedra River flow had a similar pattern in July but it dropped below the median towards the middle of the month. After starting the month at over 400cfs, it recently dropped to 64cfs.
San Juan River flow – top – started at over 600cfs in July and has dipped to near 100cfs in the last few days. After spending most of the month above the median flow, it dropped below late in the month. Note the big spike last year caused by good monsoon rains.

Piedra River flow – bottom – had a similar pattern in July but it dropped below the median towards the middle of the month. After starting the month at over 400cfs, it recently dropped to 64cfs.

On the left are upper Colorado Basin lake levels as of today, 31 July.  On the right is 1 July. Overall there has been less than a 1% drop.  Our nearby San River drainage lakes have a dropped a bit more.  Navajo has dropped almost 2%.
On the left are upper Colorado Basin lake levels as of 31 July. On the right is 1 July. Overall there has been less than a 1% drop. Our nearby San River drainage lakes have a dropped a bit more. Navajo has dropped almost 2% in the last month.

August Outlook…

The average high for August is 80 and the average low is 45. 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 zero snow.

The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for August on the left indicates “equal chances” for average temps. The precip outlook on the right indicates “equal chances” for average precip.
The Climate Prediction Center temperature outlook for August on the left indicates “equal chances” for average temps.
The precip outlook on the right indicates “equal chances” for average precip.
The Euro ensemble, on the left, expects 1.65″ of precip near Pagosa Springs for August while the GFS ensemble, on the right, expects 3.15″. The Euro expects less than the average of 2.69″ while the GFS expects more than average. Last month both forecast models were too high but the Euro was nearly an inch closer.
The Euro ensemble, on the left, expects 1.65″ of precip near Pagosa Springs for August while the GFS ensemble, on the right, expects 3.15″. The Euro expects less than the average of 2.69″ while the GFS expects more than average. Last month both forecast models were too high but the Euro was nearly an inch closer.

And what do we expect?

Arleen is the expert, and this is what she expects…

The first two weeks of August the dry trend will continue. The subtropical ridge is going to be sumo wrestling with the polar front jet and an upper level trough that makes it way across the CONUS during the first 10 days of the month. Unfortunately for us, the subtropical ridge will lose.

By the 10th the trough will be centered from Minnesota to the southern plains, exactly where we want the subtropical ridge to be for ideal monsoon moisture. However, it’s inverted from what we want. As we saw in July, this is most likely due to the El Nino influence resulting in a dry zonal flow from west to east.

Around the 10th, the ridge starts to rebuild, centered over Colorado. It will take a few days to rebuild and a few days for the moisture to advect into the area but we’ll end the month with an increase of moisture.

In spite of ending the month with a cooling trend and a bit more moisture, I expect less than average precip for August and temperatures to be warmer than average.

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

Another HUGE thanks to our donors and sponsors! You help cover the cost of this web page and our weather subscriptions, necessary to provide you accurate weather reports!

And if you’re curious about us, check out this excellent video by Matt Martin. We are humbled and honored that he used his talent and time to spotlight Pagosa Weather!

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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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