Recent Rains

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flowerbug

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It looks like there have been some rains going through Colorado and Utah and the other western states that surround the Colorado River and Lake Powell.

Nobody has mentioned them much recently but as I've been watching the water flow rates gradually declining after a wet spell then it looks now like it is ticking back up again - which is a great thing to see for Lake Powell and the Colorado River. To me that looks a bit like seeing actual ground moisture still working and not being exhausted like in previous years. The monsoons are working! At least that is my impression from afar.

What say ye those that are there? :)

Have you been in any rains recently? :)
 
I just checked latest Drought Monitor for Colorado, Sep 5 (new one tomorrow), comparing it to the previous couple of weeks. Not much change, actually a little drier than the past couple of weeks’ reports. My casual but frequent observations tells me that monsoon has been pretty spotty, some heavy but relatively small area downpours. One article reported up to 8 inches of snow on the highest CO peaks.
 
It pounded down today at Jeremy Ranch east of Salt Lake - but that all goes to the great salt lake

Anything extra that makes it to the Great Salt Lake is also important as it also needs all the rain water it can get.

For some odd reason I've gotten into checking on GSL, Mono Lake, Owens Lake and the Salton Sea once in a while to see how they are doing. I blame it on me getting interested in water projects in general and then learning the history behind LA and how it got it's water and then things just kinda snowballed on me. :)

Thanks for reports from the ground! :)
 
I just checked latest Drought Monitor for Colorado, Sep 5 (new one tomorrow), comparing it to the previous couple of weeks. Not much change, actually a little drier than the past couple of weeks’ reports. My casual but frequent observations tells me that monsoon has been pretty spotty, some heavy but relatively small area downpours. One article reported up to 8 inches of snow on the highest CO peaks.

I think the most of what I've seen has been happening in the past three days so it may not appear until the next report. Today I see more river flows by a nice bump. :)
 
August was much wetter than average in WY, UT and CO, and the pattern seems to be sticking around for September. Streams don’t seem particularly high, but have been a bit above average generally. Everyone I talk with feels this whole summer has been very wet, and for Much of Wyoming it has been the wettest in 25 years! Can’t hurt Powell!
 
Just finally saw some decent rains in Colorado. Some alright storms have hit but contrary to perception of a good monsoon season here all the huge Colorado rains have been on the front slope rather than western slope. Nowhere close to the moisture we had last summer/fall...nowhere close...
It is weird how western Colorado has missed out this summer. It has rained all summer, except for early-mid July in Western Wyoming. The wettest since 1998.

 
This was last night on the western slope of CO. There was a lot of snow further up but I failed to get a picture of it. Rained a fair amount today up on the Unc. Plateau and in the San Juan Mtns. Also received a few inches of snow on Grand Mesa two days ago.
 

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It is weird how western Colorado has missed out this summer. It has rained all summer, except for early-mid July in Western Wyoming. The wettest since 1998.

It has indeed been a very different situation this summer in Colorado in comparison to Wyoming.

Although not a complete fizzer, the summer monsoon season in Colorado was drier than normal, with the southwest quarter of the state in particular receiving less than half the rainfall that normally occurs in this period (the map is for August, but June and July showed similar patterns). By contrast, note how wet the Front Range counties from Denver northward continued to be to the east of the Continental Divide, an anomalously wet pattern on the plains that started in May and lasted all summer.
Colorado Aug 2023 Precip.png
As a result of the poor monsoon, soil moisture at depth is now depleted. Even at the surface things are dry up high - I was above timberline at the summit of Guanella Pass a week ago, and the normally green tundra was dry and crunchy underfoot.
Colorado Soil Moisture.png
The sub-par moisture in southwest Colorado has also been accompanied by a hotter than normal summer, with air temperatures running from well above normal to record warm from June through August.
Colorado Temps - June-Aug 2023.png
This has in turn created high vapor pressure deficits and evaporative demand, as shown in this three-month plot of the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI). Note the striking contrast between Colorado (and states to the south), where drought prevails, and Wyoming, which has high moisture and low evaporative demand, and is running a moisture surplus. Basically, this summer the further south you went, the drier it got, while the areas to the north in Wyoming, northwestern Utah, and northern Nevada got abundant rainfall (much to the distress of those at Burning Man).
Colorado EDDI - June-Aug 2023.png
All of this translates to stress on vegetation, which will gladly start to suck up whatever precipitation does begin to fall as we head toward winter. Once again, this stress is most acute in the San Juan, Gunnison and Eagle river basins, but that is also where the majority of the annual runoff that feeds Lake Powell comes from.
Colorado Vegetation Drought Response 2.png
The bottom line here is that although we headed into the spring and summer of 2023 in good shape hydrologically due to a good winter snowfall, it did not take long for drought to reassert itself, particularly across southwestern Colorado and the adjacent Four Corners area. Therefore, these summer deficits will play into spring runoff patterns from whatever amount of snowfall the current El Nino winter brings. We are already a month late in terms of significant snowfall above timberline, so winter is not starting early. We are still in more of a fading weak summer monsoon pattern, with no big snow makers on the horizon yet. Given that this will likely go down as the warmest year on record averaged globally, it will be interesting to see how the transition to winter finally plays out, and when.
 
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