More moisture makes mark

Weather

Rain drops fall into a puddle in Colorado Springs Tuesday morning, May 18, 2021.

As expected areas of heavy rain moved across southern Colorado Monday into Tuesday with some areas getting hail and high mountain areas receiving snow. Severe weather wasn’t too widespread with reports ranging from urban street flooding in Cañon City and Pueblo to 1″ hail reports in Manitou Springs and near Westcliffe. Just northeast of Trinidad, the town of Hoehne had a few 1.5″ hail stones fall just after 3 p.m. on Monday.

Many areas from Pueblo south had rain fall into early Tuesday. Radar estimations of precipitation show a widespread area in yellow, orange and red colors along and south of highway 50, indicating radar estimations of 2″-5″ of rain.

Ground truth backs up radar with a number of areas from Pueblo south reporting rain measurements of 2″-4″. Don’t see your area? Check out the reports from the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow network. In fact, some of the mountain areas did get a heavy, wet late season snow. La Veta Pass was even closed for a time Tuesday morning.

Conditions on La Veta Pass on U.S. Highway 160 required CDOT to close the road for a time due to snow and rapidly changing conditions.

This is the fourth week in a row of significant moisture across Colorado and it’s helping drought conditions east of the Continental Divide in a big way. Here’s the latest drought monitor for Colorado, released Thursday, May 13, 2021 – which showed big improvement from the previous week.

Slide to the right to see the May 6 Drought monitor and to the left to view the improvement over eastern Colorado on the most recent drought monitor (May 13, 2021).

The drought monitor released this week will NOT contain impacts from our moisture this morning. But it will include LAST WEEK’S rain and snow. This recent round of water won’t be reflected in the drought monitor until May 27 but a number of spots in southeast Colorado are likely to be out of drought conditions at that point – they might be listed as “abnormally dry,” but technically out of drought conditions. We’ll keep you updated.

While moisture has been above average along the Front Range in Colorado so far in 2021, the western slope is still in extreme drought.

As we move head first into the warmest months of the year, long term outlooks from NOAA indicate that Colorado is more likely than not to be warmer and drier than average through the summer months. This isn’t good for a couple reasons:

1) The continuing drought on the western slope
2) July and August being the wettest months of the year on average because of the monsoon

Keep in mind that wildfire season never ends in Colorado, but even with a wet first half of the year locally, it is likely to be an active summer of wildfires, especially in the mountains and on the western slope.

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