High precipitation totals reported in county

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By Josh Pike | Staff Writer

This week, according to the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) website, Station CO-AU-33, located on Cactus Drive in Aspen Springs west of Pagosa Springs, experienced the third highest rain total in Colorado of 3.46 inches for the period between July 27 and Aug. 3.

CoCoRaHS also indicates that, for the period between July 20 and Aug. 3, sites in Archuleta County received between 2.85 and 4.20 inches of rain.

Higher precipitation totals were concentrated in and to the north and west of Pagosa Springs, with the highest total being reported near Hidden Valley Lake up Fourmile Road north of Pagosa Springs.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), partly sunny skies and showers and thunderstorms mainly after noon are expected in Pagosa Country Thursday, Aug. 4, with a high of 75 and winds at 5-10 mph in the afternoon.

Mostly cloudy skies and chances of showers and thunderstorms are expected Thursday night with 5 mph winds before midnight and a low of 56.

For Friday, Aug. 5, the forecasted high is 72 degrees, with showers and thunderstorms likely after 9 a.m. and 5-10 mph winds. The forecasted low is 56 degrees with mixed showers and thunderstorms likely overnight.

For Saturday, Aug. 6, showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after noon, along with a high of 72 degrees. The forecasted low is 55 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and chances of showers and thunderstorms overnight.

For Sunday, Aug. 7, the forecasted high is 71 degrees, with mostly cloudy skies and showers and thunderstorms after noon. The forecasted low is 54 degrees with mostly cloudy skies and chances of mixed showers and thunderstorms overnight.

Rivers and drought

Stream flow for the San Juan River on Aug. 3 at approximately 12 p.m. was 611 cubic feet per second (cfs), according to the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) National Water Dashboard.

This is down from a nighttime peak of 1,020 cfs at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 2.

These numbers are down from a recent peak flow of 1,470 cfs at 4:15 a.m. on July 29.

However, flows are up from last week’s reading of 134 cfs at noon on July 27.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) reports that 100 percent of the county is experiencing drought. 

The NIDIS places the entire county in a moderate drought, which the website notes may cause rangeland growth to be stunted, little hay to be available, dryland crops to suffer and wildfires to increase.

The NIDIS also places 46 percent of the county, primarily the southern and western portions, in a severe drought, which the website notes may cause farmers to reduce planting, producers to sell cattle and the wildfire season to be extended, among other impacts. 

The NIDIS also notes that a severe drought is associated with low surface-water levels and reduced river flows.

The NIDIS provides an evaporative demand (EDDI) forecast, an experimental tool for predicting drought conditions through measuring atmospheric evaporative demand or the “thirst of the atmosphere.”

The forecast for the area indicates that in the next two weeks, the majority of Archuleta County will be experiencing a mix of moderate wet and severe wet conditions, while the four-week forecast shows the county will be experiencing a mix of severe wet and extreme wet conditions.

Water report

According to a Aug. 1 press release from Justin Ramsey, district manager of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, Village Lake is full.

Lake Pagosa and Lake Forest are both full, both having risen from 2 inches from full last week.

Stevens Lake is 21 inches from full, staying even with last week.

Hatcher Lake is currently 14 inches from full, up 2 inches from last week.

Total diversion flows for the district are listed at 6.0 cfs.

The West Fork diversion flow is listed at 3.0 cfs and the San Juan diversion flow is listed at 3.0 cfs.

The report notes that administration on the Four Mile diversion was lifted on July 28.

Water production from July 21 through July 27 was listed at a total of 17.3 million gallons. The Snowball water plant contributed 4.43 million gallons, the Hatcher plant contributed 7.60 million gallons and the San Juan plant contributed 5.36 million gallons.

Last year, total water production was listed at 15.76 million gallons for those dates.

josh@pagosasun.com