Wetter, warmer turn to winter

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Scott Tirrill collects grocery carts at the City Market on First Street in Grand Junction during a snow shower Monday. The snow turned to rain in the Grand Valley, but it remained snowy in the high country. Moisture and snowpack levels are above normal early in 2014.

It rained on snow drifts Monday, confusing some who thought spring arrived.

Rain also fell in Rifle and Montrose, where it was warmer.

Grand Junction saw temperatures in the low 40s and Cortez recorded a high of 52 degrees on Monday, causing some to question Punxsutawney Phil and his Feb. 2 prediction of six more weeks of winter.

Jeff Colton, a National Weather Service meteorologist, predicted Grand Junction will get warmer still, reaching 50 degrees by the weekend.

But temperature really isn’t the story. 

Water is the story.

It rained and snowed so much in recent days that storms pushed precipitation counts to well above normal for the area, Colton said.

“We’re already over an inch for the year,” he said. “It looks like we’re almost a half inch above normal.”

That hasn’t happened since 2011, Colton said.

Roughly three-tenths of an inch of precipitation fell in and around Grand Junction during the 24-hour period that ended at 4 p.m. Monday, Colton said.

For moisture, snow is much preferred in February, Colton said. The mountains store the snowpack, which melts over time as it is needed. Rainwater runs off too quickly before it can be fully utilized.

Up to 10 inches of heavy snow fell north of Powderhorn Mountain Resort, while 7 inches was reported four miles south of Collbran, the National Weather Service said. More than 5 feet of snow has fallen at Powderhorn since Jan. 31.

Snowpack is 120 percent of normal in some central mountain areas, meaning the state is holding its own this year when it comes to water supply, Colton said.

Another round of mountain snow and valley rain coudl be in store Wednesday and Thursday as the last disturbance in this persistent, moist, westerly flow moves through, according to the Weather Service extended forecast.

The lower central and southern valleys will see some areas of fog in the morning with partly sunny skies. Clouds will move in Wednesday.


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