June was dry but not an Aspen record
Not even the spotty cloudburst in Aspen last Sunday could prevent one of the driest marks for June over the last 62 years.
An automated precipitation measurement station at Aspen Airport logged just .09 inches of rain for the month, according to Ellen Heffernan, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Grand Junction. There was measurable precipitation on just two days of the month and a “trace” of rain recorded on eight more, she said.
The rainfall amounts could be slightly different depending on the location within Aspen. There were brief cloudbursts both Saturday and Sunday downtown, but the airport picked up just a trace of rain each day.
The average rainfall for the month is 1.13 inches, according to Heffernan. Aspen was more than an inch behind for the month.
The Aspen Water Plant’s report for June wasn’t available Monday. A staff member visually checks and logs the precipitation amounts at the water plant every day, so the automated readings at the airport are reconciled with the water plant’s observations when the monthly report is finished, according to the weather service.
The water plant’s weather records go back to 1951. Over that period, a lower rainfall amount for June was only recorded three times compared to this year. A trace of rain fell for the entire month in 1980 and again during the drought of 2002, according to the records. Only .08 inches of rain fell in June 1961.
The most rain for the month occurred in 1984 when Aspen was deluged with 4.35 inches, according to the water plant’s records.
This year, irrigators, gardeners and wildflower admirers were fortunate that a wet spring preceded June. Grasses, hay and other vegetation took off on a rain- and snow-soaked growth spurt but are now wilting in the hot, dry conditions.
Despite the dry month, Pitkin County remained rated in a “moderate drought” as of June 25 by the U.S. Drought Monitor, determined by federal agencies. That’s the second least severe rating out of five in the drought monitor.
Heffernan said there won’t be relief until high pressure built to the west of Colorado moves over to Texas, allowing monsoonal moisture to flow up from the southwest.
Mark Heuer, a meteorologist with DayWeather Inc., a weather forecasting company based in Cheyenne, Wyo., said relief could come soon for Colorado’s central mountains. The first monsoonal moisture could appear Thursday into Friday and possibly continue into the weekend, he said. There is a chance for above average moisture starting in mid-July, Heuer said.
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