Colorado Weather Forecast #208: Stormy Pattern Continues; Big Surge of Moisture Friday to Sunday, With a Cold Front

Significant thunderstorm activity in the mountains is expected through mid August. Another wet weekend with possible washouts ahead, with a heat wave on Friday in the Front Range ahead of a cold front. Next weekend looks like another moisture surge.

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Updated Tue Aug 2, 2022 6:00pm MST | Published Tue Aug 2, 2022

By Thomas Horner

Summary

  • Overall, active pattern continues for the next couple week. Focus is less on southern Colorado and spread more equally across the high country.
  • Afternoon thunderstorms in the high country this week, only spotty coverage on the high plains.
  • Big push of monsoonal moisture from Friday to Sunday – washouts possible in the mountains. Front Range could get in on the action thanks to an upslope behind a cold front.
  • Before then, record highs possible in the Front Range and on the high plains on Friday.
  • Next moisture surge looks to be the following weekend.

Lighting Risk Grids

Retrospective: July

July is typically when the desert southwest (including southern Colorado) feels the impacts of the North American Monsoon, and unlike the past couple years, we definitely did not miss out.

Precipitation anomalies for the month of July show wetter than average conditions across the high country, particularly the San Juans and Sangres. In northern Colorado, where the monsoon has less of an influence, a little spottier but generally average amounts of precipitation. The biggest misses were the Denver metro area and lower Roaring Fork Valley.

This has eased the short term drought across the desert southwest!

But looking at soil moisture anomalies, we’ve only barely put a dent in the long term drought.

Temperature anomalies followed a similar pattern. In the rainier parts of southern Colorado, temperatures for the month were about average or even a bit below average. Along the I-25 urban corridor, a number of record-setting heat waves ensured the region came in warmer than average.

We are currently experiencing a La Niña, and this is forecasted to continue into the start of winter, which would make this a rare “triple-dip” event – three years of La Niña. This only happens every couple decades.

This has helped drive an unusually quiet severe storm season across the United States.

Colorado has recorded no lightning fatalities this year, which is good as July and August tend to feature the most incidents. As we progress into August, the hottest days of the year are now behind us, climatologically speaking – but as far as 2022 goes, the next stretch of weather for eastern Colorado looks to feature some of the hottest temperatures of the year.

Forecast Discussion

High pressure is generally to the east or directly over Colorado for the next two weeks. The ten day average looks like this:

This means we’ll see repeated surges of monsoonal moisture. If we take the above map at face value, then we would expect northern Colorado to be a bit wetter than the past few weeks – moisture distribution seems more even across thr high country as opposed to July’s focus on southern Colorado.

That certainly seems to be the case if we look at the same ensemble’s precipitation product:

This ensemble expects the San Juans, Sangres, and Front Range to pick up copious amounts of precipitation over the next ten days.

Again, temperature anomalies correlate strongly with precipitation anomalies.

This looks to be the case into mid August.

Right now, the biggest moisture pulses look to be this coming weekend (Friday to Sunday) and the following weekend. Before Friday, looking at slow moving afternoon thunderstorms, nothing too out of the ordinary. Some isolated storms could reach the I-25 corridor, but in general, not much action for the high plains.

This weekend looks particularly wet as shortwave kicks a cold front down into northern Colorado and the Front Range.

The Blend shows a wet Saturday and Sunday, even east of the Divide thanks to an upslope behind the cold front.

Ahead of the cold front, parts of the Front Range could see record high temperatures on Friday, as the mountains see an uptick in thunderstorm activity.

We’ll dig into more specifics for the weekend once models have better agreement over the pattern, but could be some interesting conditions such as rain in the morning or late at night.

Things quiet down a bit for the start of next week, but still looking pretty active in the high country.

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