Forecasters say June will bring only slight relief from Aspen’s wet weather
GETTING SOAKED IN ASPEN
Rain so far in May: 2.44 inches
Average for month: 2.08 inches
Record for month: 5.41 inches in 1995
Source: National Weather Service
Will it ever stop raining? That’s the question on the minds of a lot of Roaring Fork Valley residents this month.
The National Weather Service is reporting 2.44 inches of precipitation in Aspen so far in May as of Wednesday. The average for the month between 1981 and 2014 is 2.08 inches, according to Dennis Phillips, a forecaster and meteorologist in the weather service’s Grand Junction office.
The Aspen Water Plant, which has tracked precipitation data since 1951, shows the record for May precipitation is 5.41 inches, set in 1995.
The National Weather Service uses data collected from both the water plan and the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, so it’s sometimes comparing apples and oranges. Location and elevation matter when it comes to Aspen’s precipitation.
The water plant is at 8,148 feet in elevation in lower Castle Creek Valley. The airport is at 7,897 feet in the Roaring Fork Valley floor.
What’s indisputable is May has been wet.
Cory Gates, a meteorologist and forecaster for AspenWeather.net, warned subscribers to the service months ago that April and May were going to be rainy. He was spot on.
“Everybody’s pissed off in town,” said Ryan Boudreau, a partner in AspenWeather.net. “We had more snow in May than January.”
AspenWeather.Net provides forecasts for the Aspen microclimate to subscribers to its website.
People are getting sick of the recent forecasts, but Gates and Boudreau have to call them like they see them, Boudreau said.
Gates foresees a little relief in June, but just a little. He is forecasting that June will be wetter than average in the Aspen area but not as wet as this month, Boudreau said.
An El Nino system is warming Pacific Ocean temperatures and affecting Colorado’s weather pattern, according to AspenWeather.net. “It strengthened late. It’s really starting to come on strong,” Boudreau said.
That could make western Colorado’s typically monsoonal flow of moisture more pronounced this summer, Gates is forecasting, according to Boudreau. The monsoon typically strikes about mid-July, consistently bringing afternoon showers. Those showers will be frequent this summer, Gates is forecasting.
But just remember, Boudreau said, the current weather pattern is good for parched western U.S. lands.
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center concurs on the rainy forecast. The three-month outlook issued by the center in April forecasted above average chances for precipitation for all of Colorado for May, June and July.
Dennis Phillips, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said it is possible June might be a little drier than May for western Colorado, but the area will remain dominated by a wet weather pattern.
Western Colorado residents who feel they are paying the price for warm and dry conditions in most of January and February and part of March might be onto something. Phillips said his education and work as a meteorologist has repeatedly shown the weather eventually balances out.
“Everything kind of equals,” he said.
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