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Monsoonal rain brings a shot of relief, but it might not last long

June had record-breaking heat; then rain put month above average for precipitation
Recent rains in Cortez have put the month precipitation average above normal. (Journal file)

Cortez heated up to record high temperatures in June, then a week’s worth of refreshing rains provided much needed moisture.

The rains of late June were first of the year linked to the seasonal monsoonal pattern, said Jim Andrus.

“Not a drought-buster to be sure, but it provided some small relief from the drought,” he said last week.

Cortez saw .52 inches of rain in June, which is 130% of normal. Year-to-date, Cortez is at 4.12 inches of rain, which is 82% of normal.

Curb your enthusiasm for a sustained monsoonal weather pattern, weather officials said.

While the 30-day precipitation outlooks looks more promising, the 90-day outlook still looks pessimistic for precipitation, Andrus said.

This week is expected to be dry with highs in the mid to upper 90s, and temperatures will continue to run 5-10 degrees above normal across the area, according to the National Weather Service foercast anaylsis for the Four Corners.

Lower valleys may break the 100 degree mark.

“The center of the area of high pressure is forecast to remain over the Four Corners region,” according to the analysis. “As a result, expect a warming trend through the end of the week as temperatures climb back into the triple digits for portions of southeast Utah and west-central Colorado.”

Scott Stearns, National Weather Service meteorologist, said the forecast for a consistent monsoonal rainfall pattern in the Four Corners is less than ideal.

“It is not setting up super-favorable at this point, but that could change,” he said.

Recent rains are tied to tropical storms Dolores and Enrique in Mexico, Stearns said, which have injected moisture into the atmosphere in the Four Corners that has circulated and lingered.

Long term, he said a high-pressure system is expected to move back over the area, pushing the traditional monsoon pattern to the west into eastern Nevada and western Utah.

Monsoonal rain patterns occur July through September when moisture is drawn up from the Gulf of Mexico into the Southwest.

It missed Montezuma and La Plata counties in 2020 and 2019, worsening drought conditions, leaving behind abnormally dry soils, and increasing wildfire risk.

Cortez suffered through a heat wave earlier in June, with 100-degree temperatures on four consecutive days, Andrus said.

Eight new daily high temperature records were set. One was tied.

The high of 94 degrees on June 5 beat the previous daily record of 92 degrees set in 2020.

Then new records were set or tied on seven consecutive days, June 13 to June 19. They are:

  • 95 degrees on June 13 tied the old record of 95 degrees set in 2018.
  • 97 degrees on June 14 beat the old record of 96 degrees set in 2018.
  • 97 degrees on June 15 beat the old record of 93 degrees set in 1974.
  • 102 degrees on June 16 beat the old record of 96 degrees set in 2007.
  • 102 degrees on June 17 beat the old record of 95 degrees set in 2007.
  • 100 degrees on June 18 beat the old record of 95 degrees set in 2017.
  • 100 degrees on June 19 beat the old record of 98 degrees set in 1936.

The all-time record of 102 degrees was set on July 15, 2003, then tied six times: on July 21, 2005; June 27, 2013; June 28, 2013; July 7, 2017; June 16, 2021; and June 17, 2021.