Its been a warm, dry month
Lack of precipitation may delay winter weather
If current temperatures are any indication, colder weather and the snow associated with it could be making its way to Southwest Colorado later than normal this year.
Jim Andrus, meteorologist cooperative weather observer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said current temperatures are about 10 degrees warmer than average for Southwest Colorado.
Andrus also said the precipitation for all of 2012 is less than two-thirds of what Cortez normally receives through this time of year.
For the first nine months of 2012, only three months had an above average-amount of precipitation. He said if the patterns hold or do not change significantly, the first snowfall in late 2012 would likely occur sometime in November.
Andrus said he sees a pattern where colder air has moved into the East and Midwest, while the West has received little, if any, of that kind of weather.
“For the western states this could be a mild winter,” he said.
He said the temperatures for the first part of the month were in the 90s and are now still in the mid-80s. He added that temperatures should be in the mid-70s this time of year.
Cortez did see a small amount of rain Monday.
Precipitation amounts also remain a concern with Cortez having received only 42 percent of the rainfall for a normal September.
He said what is occurring this month is a complete opposite of what occurred in July and August. In July, Cortez received 102 percent of the rainfall it typically gets, and the rainfall for August was 118 percent above normal.
But since Sept. 1, there has been virtually no rain in the county, Andrus said.
“Since then someone has turned off the spigot,” he said. “We have been consistently dry,”
Andrus added that September is usually a monsoon month with an average amount of 1.31 inches of rain.
In one example, Cortez in September 2011 received 117 percent of its average rainfall amount.
October usually generates an average of 1.55 inches of precipitation, which includes both rain and snow, and the concern is the drought could continue into October, Andrus said.
“That’s not a good sign,” he said. “It’s very likely (the snow date) will be pushed back to sometime in November.”
The Four Corners region, he said, is very different from the Front Range, which in recent weeks has had some cold days, adding that the mountains trap in the cold air so it doesn’t move south.
“It’s like two separate climates,” Andrus said.
He said the precipitation amounts for rain in September in the last six years have been like a roller coaster.
In 2006, the precipitation amount for the month was 151 percent above average, while in 2007 the percentage was 163 percent before dropping to 47 percent in 2008 and 65 percent in 2009 and then increasing to 100 percent in 2010.
Andrus said just because September has been a bad month for precipitation does not mean October will automatically continue with the same weather pattern.
He said the reports are that there will be a mild El Niño this season, which usually means colder weather and more snow, but added this has yet to materialize.