Mini-monsoon moving in…

Quartz Ridge

Shawn took this eerie image of Tobacco Lake yesterday afternoon, to the southeast of the Quartz Ridge fire.

Tuesday 8-8-2023. 8:30am update.

The past…

At Stevens Field the high yesterday was 86 degrees. The low this morning was 45 degrees. Winds gusted to 30mph yesterday and our humidity bottomed out at a desert-like 7% yesterday afternoon.

Precipitation summary: There was no measurable precipitation to summarize yesterday!

Pagosa Springs historical data August 8th.

Average HighRecord High / YearAverage LowRecord Low / Year
8290/ 19694529/ 1956

361072152 661989805431532 3098945592349457404 n

*** Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in effect for the lower elevations of San Juan National Forest. The minimum fine for violating campfire restrictions is $530. ***

8 8 1
To the NW of Pagosa Springs is the Bear Creek Fire, Dry Creek to the west, Quartz Ridge to the NE and to the SW, the American Mesa Fire.

Here’s the latest on our four nearby fires:

The Quartz Ridge Fire:

The Quartz Ridge Fire, burning approximately three miles into the South San Juan Wilderness, has grown to 558 acres since its discovery August 5th. Its smoke column is very visible from Pagosa Springs and the surrounding area. Firefighters are unable to directly engage the fire due to very steep terrain, its remote location, and firefighter risk associated with working in standing dead and down trees. The Quartz Ridge Fire is expected to remain in a very remote location of the South San Juan Wilderness. Fire managers continue to develop a strategic plan to suppress the fire should it move into terrain more favorable to engagement. In response to fire activity, the Quartz Meadows Road (NFSR#685), the Quartz Ridge Trail (NFST#570) and the Quartz Creek Trail (NFST#571) are closed to the public. The fire will continue to be highly visible to travelers on US Highway 160, Colorado Highway 84, and from the communities of Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, and Durango.

The American Mesa Fire:

Despite critical fire weather conditions, crews on the ground and in the air kept growth of the American Mesa Fire at a minimum. The fire is currently 756 acres with 25% containment. 

“This fire really wanted to move,” said Jicarilla Ranger District Duty Officer Brent Woffindin. “But our crews worked hard to keep it at bay and it paid off.” 

Forecasts call for improved weather on Tuesday, when there is a 30% chance of showers. Temperatures may be cooler with higher humidities and breezy conditions. 

The Bear Creek Fire:

The Bear Creek Fire, burning approximately 2.5 miles West of the Weminuche Valley, has grown to approximately 150 acres since its discovery August 1st. Direct fire suppression efforts occurred the first two operational shifts but due to increased fire behavior and the presence of dead standing trees, firefighters disengaged in accordance with a comprehensive risk analysis. Fire suppression resources remain in the immediate fire area and are actively monitoring fire progression to the northeast. Numerous additional fire resources have been ordered and will join suppression operations in the coming days. The following Forest Service Trails have been closed in response to fire activity: Little Sand Trail (#591) from Mosca Road, Shaw Creek Trail (#584), and Falls Creek Trail (#673). The fire will continue to be visible from the communities of Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, and the surrounding travel corridors of US Highway 160 and Colorado Highway 84.

The Dry Lake Fire:

The 1,372-acre Dry Lake Fire, burning in the First Notch area of the Columbine Ranger District, did not grow today and is now 47 percent contained. Firefighters are continuing to mop up and secure the fireline. Pockets of vegetation inside the fireline will continue to smolder and burn, though fire activity and smoke production will decrease through the week.

The indirect fire suppression tactics used by fire managers has resulted in the successful thinning of overgrown oak brush and grass growing in the understory of the Ponderosa Pine forest cover. Benefits of this strategy include reducing hazardous fuels, encouraging native plant growth, increasing species diversity, and enriching wildlife forage.

Screenshot 2023 08 08 081715
A trough in Idaho will move east today, moving the high pressure to our south, further east. This will allow some moisture to stream in from the SW, giving us a chance for afternoon and evening storms.

Forecast discussion…

A trough in Idaho will move east today, moving the blocking high pressure to our south, further east. This will allow some moisture to stream in from the SW, giving us a chance for afternoon and evening storms. On Wednesday, drier air will filter back into our area behind the trough, shutting down rain chances. From Thursday through early next week, the “Blocking High” to our south will flatten and move east, allowing for a SW flow to return, giving us a chance for afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. It will be a “mini-monsoon”, but better than nothing!

Screenshot 2023 08 08 081339
The latest 3-day rainfall forecast from the NWS is predicting 0.05 inches of rain for Pagosa Springs and 0.13 inches for Chama, NM.
Screenshot 2023 08 08 080919
The latest NBM model is predicting 0.40 inches of rain for Pagosa Springs and 0.55 inches for Chama, NM. from today through next Tuesday.
Screenshot 2023 08 08 081014
The latest GFS model is predicting 0.13 inches of rain for Pagosa Springs and 0.64 inches for Chama, NM. from today through next Tuesday.

5-Day Forecast…

The rest of the day: Partly cloudy with a chance for afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the low to mid 80’s. Winds SW 15-25mph, with gusts to 30mph.

Wednesday: Partly cloudy with lows in the 40’s and highs in the low to mid 80’s. Winds SW 10-15, with gusts to 25mph.

Thursday: Partly cloudy with a good chance for afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the 40’s and highs in the low to mid 80’s. Winds SW 10-15, with gusts to 25mph. Rainfall totals: 0-0.10.

Friday-Monday: Partly cloudy with a chance for afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the 40’s and highs in the low to mid 80’s. Winds SW 10-15, with gusts to 25mph. Daily rainfall totals: 0-0.05.

Check out my Pagosa Peak Cam (myearthcam.com) for watching hikers, bikers and of course, the weather.

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