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Don’t mind getting wet

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Many pedestrians were unprepared when the skies finally opened Friday afternoon on Durango. Heidi Ragsdale tries to cover the head of her daughter Chloe Ragsdale as the two wait for a traffic light to cross Main Avenue.

By Ann Butler Herald staff writer

After almost two months without precipitation and weeks of fires and extreme fire danger, Southwest Coloradans’ prayers were answered when it started raining this week.

“It is the beginning of the monsoons,” meteorologist Matthew Aleksa with the Grand Junction office of the National Weather Service said Friday. “A high-pressure system over the Central Plains is bringing moisture up from the Gulf of Mexico, which is the monsoon pattern. We got our first really good surge of moisture, and it started pretty much right on schedule, right after the Fourth of July.”

Weather observer Bill Butler measured 0.17 inches of rain Friday afternoon in Durango West II. Butler is a member of Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS, a grass-roots volunteer network of backyard observers.

Rain also hit hard in many other areas of Southwest Colorado on Friday, but no other official readings were available.

The CoCoRahs map showed precipitation of 0.84 near Honeyville, just north of Hermosa, for the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Friday.

While Durango received only 0.07 of an inch from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday, Mesa Verde received 0.28 of an inch in the same time period, with another 0.10 by Friday morning.

Aleksa said there were several places where the rain fell at a rate of an inch an hour Thursday, but in most places where it was that intense, it rained for only half an hour or so.

The National Weather Service predicts a 40 percent chance of rain today in Durango and 30 percent Sunday.

“The moisture should continue through the weekend,” Aleksa said, “then it will dry out next week. The models are hinting that the moisture might return at the end of next week, but it’s still uncertain out that far.”

Because it has been so dry, there is a danger with the rain, particularly in the high country.

“We could possibly see landslides or mudslides,” Aleksa said, “especially where there have been fires.”

In northern and central New Mexico, the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service declared a flood advisory for arroyos and low water crossings Friday evening because of heavy rainfall in the mountains there.

Aleksa couldn’t make predictions beyond the next seven days, but the monsoons typically last through July.

“But it will take a lot to come out of the drought,” he said. “We’ll still be in somewhat of a prolonged drought until winter, when we hope we’ll get some good snow.”

abutler@durangoherald.com

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