Early monsoon keeps Vail Valley soggy
VAIL, Colorado ” The cool, wet weather in Vail, Colorado, this May has been remarkable, according to climate researcher Klaus Wolter, who studies weather and climate trends in the Rocky Mountains for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The rain comes from moisture moving north from the subtropics in a pattern more typical of summer monsoon rains. The current cycle of showers doesn’t fit a monsoon’s technical definition, involving a formula of temperatures and humidity.
But in all other aspects, it’s monsoon-like, Wolter said.
And there’s no big break in sight. Things may dry out a bit in the short-term, but the next few weeks look to continue unsettled.
For the Front Range, Wolter said some areas around Denver have seen 3 inches of rain in the past five days ” wet but not out of the ordinary. May is the wettest month of the year for many Front Range areas.
The rains in the mountains around Eagle and Summit counties didn’t trigger any unusual high-water events. Stream flows are above average for the date, but far from record levels, said water commissioner Scott Hummer.
Hummer said most streams have already reached peak flows for the year. The showers of the past few days were steady, but didn’t reach intensities that would have caused flooding.
Peak snowmelt came earlier than usual this year. Wolter said some recent studies show that thick concentrations of dust in the snow speeded the process, especially in the San Juan Mountains.
Wolter said recent data from the Pacific suggests the larger weather pattern could tilt suddenly toward El Nino conditions, with warmer-than-normal water in the eastern Pacific affecting the storm track.
It’s not a sure thing, but if it happens, it could favor the southern Rockies with more summer moisture, Wolter said.