Monsoon rains are welcomed

National Weather Service predicts arrival of pattern

A dry Durango celebrated the Fourth of July without fireworks, but those looking up to the sky saw a glimpse of the monsoon season as rain, mostly sprinkles, graced the town.

Durango and Southwest Colorado are falling into the usual July pattern of afternoon showers and lightning, said Tom Renwick, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Based on forecast models, Renwick expects late-afternoon showers between 3 and 6 p.m. through at least Monday, but the pattern should hold for the rest of the month.

The daily rainfall should be light, perhaps a quarter of an inch to a half of an inch, and very spotty.

“You know how it is,” said Renwick, noting how rainfall can vary greatly by location.

Any moisture will be appreciated as rainfall for the year is less than half of normal.

As of June 28, Durango had 2.7 inches of rain. Normally, Durango averages 6 inches of rain by mid-year, Renwick said.

The temperature, however, has been pretty typical, perhaps just 1 or 2 degrees hotter than the average daily high of 86 degrees for the season.

Rain should help crews get forest fires under control. On Wednesday, the Weber Canyon Fire was 90 percent contained, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Alexis West, public information officer with the Little Sand Fire, said buildings around the Poma Ranch are under structure protection: They’re being watched by firefighters, and they’re wrapped in special fire-resistant cloth developed by NASA.

“We haven’t had a soaking rain in any one area, but we are enjoying an increase in the relative humidity, and we always welcome that,” West said.

As the fire danger has decreased with the Little Sand Fire, West said crew members have being reassigned.

The number of people assigned to the fire, about 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, is down to 156, West said. The fire is listed at 40 percent containment at 24,800 acres on Wednesday afternoon.

Thunderstorms were expected in Southwest Colorado on Wednesday afternoon, and West was hopeful that would further reduce the potency of the Little Sand Fire.

Because lightning for the next few days will be accompanied with rainfall, the chances of new forest fires should be minimized, Renwick said.

jhaug@durangoherald.com Herald Staff Writer Patrick Armijo contributed to this report.

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