Look forward to more rain than usual during the next 3 months
By MIKE WIGGINS
It may be quickly becoming a distant memory in the minds of residents given the hot, dry start to July, but last month proved to be an unseasonably cool, wet one in the Grand Valley.
And that made people craving fresh, local produce wait a little longer to get their initial fix than in years past.
Grand Junction’s average high in June was more than 3 degrees cooler than normal. The high reached 90 degrees only six days last month, compared with 18 days in June of 2008. Historically, June sees an average of 15.4 days of 90 degrees or hotter, according to data from the National Weather Service.
Precipitation, meanwhile, was far above normal, with a total of 1.12 inches falling at Grand Junction Regional Airport. That was nearly three times the average for the month — 0.41 — and made the month the 14th-wettest June in Grand Junction since records began in 1893, said Joe Ramey, meteorologist with the Weather Service.
“It was a pretty spectacular June for us,” Ramey said. “We just kept getting the storms.”
Grand Junction received so much precipitation in May and June that Ramey said Weather Service employees called it the “Maysoon,” a reference to the annual monsoon that descends upon the Grand Valley each July.
Ramey said the rainy weather had the makings of the annual monsoon, defined by a high pressure system that settles over the Four Corners and a seasonal shift of winds that helps pull moisture out of Mexico and into western Colorado.
The milder-than-average June delayed the development of some of the first vegetables of the season. That marked a departure from the past several years, when early summer warm-ups hastened ripening and growing.
“It made us a little late,” Okagawa Farms owner Frank Nieslanik said of June’s weather.
“We all think we should have sweet corn by the third or fourth of July.”
This year, though, Wednesday marked the first day that employees at the Orchard Mesa farm picked corn and made it available for customers. And like every year, the first corn of the year brings out the crowds.
“It will almost double the traffic we have in the store,” he said.
A string of mid-90s to begin July has Grand Junction closer to normal, climatologically speaking. The average high in July is 93, according to the Weather Service. But be prepared for a return to stormy weather as the summer wears on.
Ramey said the outlook shows an increased probability of above-normal precipitation for the desert Southwest, which includes Grand Junction. He said a weaker El Niño pattern is developing, meaning the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru is warmer than normal.
Warmer temperatures allow the atmosphere to hold more moisture.
“We’re probably looking at some pretty good rainfall through July, August and September,” Ramey said.