August rain douses a drier than average Aspen summer
The overdue arrival of the summer monsoon in August brought welcome relief to what was shaping up to be a dry summer for Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley.
The Aspen Water Plant already has recorded 0.87 inches of rain in August as of Friday morning. That’s more than the 0.65 inches that fell in June.
June was significantly drier than normal for Aspen. The average rainfall since 1951 is 1.22 inches.
The water plant recorded 1.44 inches of rain in July, according to an unofficial report released Friday. That compares with an average of 1.77 inches.
May was only slightly below the average of 1.89 inches with 1.71 inches this year, according to the water plant’s records.
Cumulatively, rainfall for May, June and July was 3.8 inches, or 78 percent of the average of 4.88 inches.
This summer is significantly drier than last year. In May 2015, Aspen Water Plant recorded 4.69 inches of rain. In July 2015, Aspen Water Plant recorded 3.29 inches of rain. June 2015 was about average.
While this month is starting wet, conditions are supposed to dry out next week. AccuWeather Inc., a commercial weather-forecasting company, released its 2016 U.S. Fall Forecast on Thursday and said the western U.S. generally can expect a dry fall.
“We still may have another spurt of moisture here and there into early September in eastern parts of Utah, but other than that, those areas will start to dry out as well by middle fall,” the company’s report said.
AccuWeather meteorologist Randy Adkins amplified the outlook for Colorado when contacted by The Aspen Times. Colorado and the rest of the Intermountain West will likely experience warm and dry conditions, as there is a transition out of El Nino and into a La Nina weather pattern.
“I wouldn’t expect stormy, turbulent weather in the fall,” Adkins said.
La Nina is associated with cooler than average Pacific Ocean waters in contrast with El Nino’s warmer than average waters. La Nina will have a greater effect on the weather later in the fall, Adkins said. While the Colorado mountains are accustomed to getting a blast of snow in October, it’s more likely that stormy weather will wait to develop in November, he said.
The drier conditions could mean fall foliage colors that are more muted than usual, Adkins said. It is doubtful that leaves will just wilt, turn brown and fall off, he said, but the dryness might eliminate the vibrant colors.
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