August Climate Outlook for the San Juans


Joe with a Prescott College Snow Studies/Avalanche program back in another century.


Joe Ramey is a recently retired NWS weather forecaster/climatologist and leads the charge for Mountain Weather Masters based in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

Hello Mountain Weather Masters,

July 2017 started out hot as a ridge of high pressure amplified over the Great Basin. Regional temperatures soared well above normal, and this matched the climate normals that the first half of July is the hottest time of the year. We hit 102F here in Junction on the 5th-7th & 9th and that will probably be the hottest temperatures of 2017 here. By the 10th, the ridge axis had shifted east of the Continental Divide. Clockwise rotation around the high allowed subtropical moisture from the south to work up into Colorado. So the monsoon moisture arrived in Colorado on 10 July this year.

Climate sites in the region are showing July 2017 temperatures well above normal. Through 24 July, above normal temperatures ranged from +1.5F at Montrose to +8.4F at Salt Lake City. After a dry June, July precipitation totals were still behind normal. Of the 12 sites I look at, only Meeker, Grand Junction, and Moab were above normal. Since we are in the depth of monsoonal flow right now, I would expect the month to end up wetter than normal for the region.

In the latest outlook from the CPC, you can see they expect the monsoon season to be robust with wetter-than-normal odds centered on the Four Corners for August and the Aug-Sep-Oct. In the temperature outlook, you can see that the expected widespread showers and clouds help to keep the Desert SW not as warm as the rest of the country. The climate change signal has the entire country warmer than normal for the Aug-Sep-Oct season.

Conditions in the Pacific are again not showing much change. The Nino 3.4 region along the equator is a bit warmer than normal. The best forecast is for ENSO to hover in the warm side of Neutral or perhaps a weak El Nino. Further north in the Pacific, the northern basin remains unremarkably warmer than normal.

Now going way out there, into the summer of 2018, the CPC continues to show a strong warm signal for the next 12 months especially over the Desert SW. The long-range precipitation outlook shows lots of EC (Equal Chances) or low forecast skill.

Enjoy this manna from heaven, but stay out of the slot canyons for awhile. 🙂

Joe Ramey

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