“The sun is good weather, but we are being killed with kindness”
A quick but weak storm will sweep through southwest Colorado tonight, according to the National Weather Service, but that won’t be enough to break the drought.
The La Niña weather phenomenon – characterized by colder than average temperatures in the equatorial Pacific – has created persistent high pressure over the region, pushing storms north of the Four Corners.
“We haven’t had strong individual storms to break the pattern,” said Jim Andrus, Cortez weather observer for the National Weather Service. “They say the sun is good, but we are kindly killed.”
There is a 60 to 80 percent chance of showers after 5 p.m., which could turn to snow later in the evening as temperatures drop to 25 degrees, Andrus said.
“It’s not a big storm and will be gone from here in a day, then it will be fine again on Wednesday and for Thanksgiving,” he said. Snowfall should not accumulate.
Two to 4 inches of snow is forecast for the higher elevations of the San Juan Mountains.
The weather service, in a special weather report issued due to vacation travel, warned that US Highway 550 on the San Juans and I-70 eastbound from Vail to Vail Pass have the best chance for highways slippery, snowy and muddy storm.
November was extremely dry in southwest Colorado. The only precipitation for the month came in light rain on November 9, which brought in 0.04 inch for the month, or 5% of normal 0.85 inch.
October was more generous, with 1.45 inches of precipitation, or 134% of the normal 1.08 inches for the month.
For cumulative precipitation through October, the Cortez region was showing 9.8 inches of precipitation, or 98% of the normal 10.05 inches.
“However, a dry November will turn that around,” Andrus said.
Last year through October, Cortez was at 52% normal precipitation.
“Overall we are way ahead of last year,” he said. “Our level of drought has improved. It went from the highest level of “exceptional” to lower categories across the county.
Long-term averages show a drying trend for the region.
Based on the new historical 30-year average – 1991 to 2020 – Cortez’s annual precipitation is 11.79 inches per year, compared to 12.57 inches per year when the 30-year average was from 1981 to 2010.
The 30-year average in Cortez for the years 1971 to 2000 was 13.21 inches.
The winter forecast is expected to be warmer and drier than normal, Andrus said.
According to the weather service, there is a 60 to 80 percent chance of rain and snow Tuesday night in southwest Colorado.
Temperatures in Montezuma County are expected to climb to 48 on Tuesday and drop to 25 overnight.
In La Plata County, a daytime high of 52 and a nighttime low of 18 degrees are predicted.
The skies will clear up on Wednesday and turn sunny on Thanksgiving Day, the Weather Service said, with highs in southwest Colorado settling into the lower 40s and lows overnight at around 20 degrees.
Sunny and warmer weather is expected for the remainder of the week, with highs reaching the first 50 years by Sunday. The lowest will be in the upper 20s.
- The Purgatory Resort reported an 8-inch snow base on Tuesday, with a chance of snow and a high of 33 degrees expected for Wednesday.
The ski lifts now operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Skiers and snowboarders can take lift 1 to the top, descend Westfork and El Diablo to lift 2, and download to the base of lift 1. No intermediate beginners or downhill terrain level will only be available, the station said in a newsletter.
The resort also offers a Thanksgiving dinner, with seating at 5 pm and 7:30 pm The cost is $ 65 per person.
- The Wolf Creek Ski Area has an 11-inch snow base, according to onthesnow.com. Four of its 10 ski lifts are open. The ski area will be open from Wednesday to Sunday.
- Telluride Ski Resort plans to open on December 3.