Heavy rains forecast to continue through Thursday

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By Josh Pike | Staff Writer

Heavy rains are forecast to continue through Thursday, Sept. 22, with a National Weather Service (NWS) flood watch in effect for the region until midnight on Friday, Sept. 23.

The flood watch states that these rains could cause flooding of rivers, streams and low-lying areas with risks of flash floods. 

It also states that residents and visitors should monitor forecasts and prepare to take action if flash flood warnings are issued in their area.

According to the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network website, as of Wednesday morning, sites in Archuleta County received between 0.17 and 0.6 inches of rain over Tuesday and Wednesday morning. 

Higher precipitation totals were concentrated in the northern portion of the county, with the highest reported precipitation amount located in Aspen Springs, west of Pagosa Springs.

According to the NWS, showers and possible thunderstorms are expected in Archuleta County Thursday, Sept. 22, with the potential for heavy rains, a high of 56 and 10 mph winds.

Showers and possible thunderstorms are forecast to continue Thursday night, along with the potential for heavy rains, mostly cloudy skies, 5-10 mph winds and a low of 45.

For Friday, Sept. 23, the forecasted high is 64 degrees with sunny skies and 5-10 mph winds. The forecasted low is 42 degrees with mostly clear skies.

For Saturday, Sept. 24, sunny skies are expected with a high of 66 degrees. The forecasted low is 44 degrees with clear skies.

For Sunday, Sept. 25, the forecasted high is 66 degrees with clear skies. The forecasted low is 45 degrees with clear skies.

Drought

August 2022 was the 60th driest August in the past 128 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) with 0.41 fewer inches of precipitation than average.

2022, to date, is the 63th wettest year in the past 128 years, according to the NIDIS, with 0.32 fewer inches of precipitation than average.

The NIDIS also indicates that 36.2 percent of the county is affected by drought, a figure unchanged from last month.

The NIDIS also reports that 4,389 persons in the county are currently affected by drought, up 0.2 percent from last month.

The NIDIS indicates the entire county is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, which the website notes may cause decreases in hay production, dry rangelands and irrigation to begin sooner.

The NIDIS also places 36.2 percent of the 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 provides an evaporative demand 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, most of Archuleta County will be experiencing a mix of moderate wet and severe wet conditions, while the four-week forecast shows the majority of the county will be experiencing severe wet conditions.

Rivers and water report

Stream flow for the San Juan River on Sept. 21 at approximately 11 a.m. was 75.1 cubic feet per second (cfs), according to the U.S. Geological Service National Water Dashboard.

These numbers are down from last week’s reading of 88.7 cfs at 11 a.m. on Sept. 14 and from a recent peak flow of 137 cfs at midnight on Sept. 15.

According to a Sept. 19 press release from Justin Ramsey, district manager of the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District, Pagosa Lake is 5 inches from full.

Village Lake is 3 inches from full.

Lake Forest is 1 inch from full.

Stevens Lake is 27 inches from full.

Lake Hatcher is currently 9 inches from full.

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

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

In a Sept. 21 interview, Ramsey explained that Four Mile had been taken back out of administration on Sept. 20 after being put into administration on Sept. 12.

Water production from Sept. 8 through Sept. 14 was listed at a total of 15.32 million gallons. The Snowball water plant contributed 3.91 million gallons, the Hatcher plant contributed 11.41 million gallons and the San Juan plant contributed no water during this period.

Ramsey explained on Sept. 21 that the San Juan plant is likely closed for the season.

Last year, total water production was listed at 17.61 million gallons for those dates.

josh@pagosasun.com