The precipitation Durango has received over the past several days may mark the beginning of the monsoons.
Moisture from the south has slowly been moving north. Parts of Arizona and New Mexico have already begun to experience the monsoons, which are expected to last until late August.
“We are starting to see the influence of it in our area,” said Megan Stackhouse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction. “A lot of it gets constricted because we have a high pressure system overhead, so it does kind of prevent that moisture from reaching further north. But otherwise, it is moisture coming from the south.”
The NWS predicts that Durango will receive a tenth of an inch of rain on Saturday, but that amount is subject to change. Forecasters are predicting scattered storm coverage, which means storms set up and move all across the area, making it hard to predict where precipitation is going to land, she said.
Over the past two days, the area has seen between a quarter and three quarters of an inch of rain.
“These storms have been able to produce some good rain in a short amount of time,” said Stackhouse.
Forecasters are anticipating more rain to hit the area Sunday. The NWS is expecting a system to move through the area, which forecasters predict will bring a quarter inch of rain. Precipitation is expected to continue until Wednesday of next week, Stackhouse said.
A flash flood watch is in effect until midnight, and Stackhouse believes another watch will be issued on Sunday. The NWS has issued a flash flood watch every day since July 5.
“It’s definitely something that we’re watching and keeping an eye on,” Stackhouse said. “It’s just so sensitive. There’s not a lot of vegetation. There’s pretty much nothing there to stop anything. There’s only so much burn scars can take.”
Though the storms bring moisture, which has helped stifle the growth of the 416 Fire, they could also start more wildfires. On Friday, lighting caused four small fires northeast of Elmore’s Corner.
“A majority of fires in our area are started by lightning strikes,” Stackhouse said. “It’s definitely something that’s common in our area and during the summer months. Even though we have gotten a good bit of rain, there’s still a bunch of dry vegetation out there and they often strike those tall trees. It’s definitely a continued threat throughout the summer months.”