January dry; worst of winter might be over, forecaster says


Dry spell

It has been a lean month for precipitation in Grand Junction, which can vary for January:

• January 2011: 2 inches of snow, 0.1 inch precipitation through Jan. 23.

• January 2010: 2 inches of snow, 0.55 inch precipitation.

• January 2009: 5.3 inches of snow, 0.31 inch precipitation.

• January 2008: 1.5 inches of snow, 0.63 inch precipitation.

• January 2007: 1.72 inches of snow, 0.49 inch precipitation.

• January 2006: 7.1 inches of snow, 0.41 inch precipitation.

• January 2005, 5.1 inches of snow, 1.66 inches precipitation.

• Averages for January: 5.9 inches of snow, 0.6 inch precipitation.

Source: National Weather Service in Grand Junction

This January is shaping up to be one of the driest in recent years in Grand Junction.

Only a tenth of an inch of precipitation has fallen on the city so far this month as of Sunday, as measured at the National Weather Service at Grand Junction Regional Airport. That compares with 0.17 inch of precipitation accumulated locally in the first 23 days of January 2010, but it’s well below the historical average precipitation collected by Jan. 23, 0.44 inch, and the average for the whole month, 0.6 inch.

The forecast is dry for the rest of the week and possibly for the rest of the month. Any showers that would occur in the western half of the state before this weekend would likely take place east of Mesa County near Steamboat Springs and Vail Pass, according to Joe Ramey with the Weather Service.

Temperatures have been below normal much of the month too, but that is expected to change this week as the Grand Valley shifts to above-normal daily highs.

“That cold snap we had in late December/early January doesn’t look likely again for the season,” Ramey said.

“I can kind of feel spring in the air, but maybe it’s wishful thinking.”

Ramey said he wouldn’t rule out another winter storm in the next few months, but he would expect the resulting snow to melt quickly.

Just 2 inches of snow have fallen this January in Grand Junction, tying the total for all of January 2010, but there is an abundance of snow in the mountains. After a delayed start to the season, Powderhorn Ski Resort on Grand Mesa has a 44-inch base of powder, and snow cover at Mesa Lakes is 134 percent of normal for this time of year. Snow cover on Park Reservoir on the other side of the Grand Mesa Visitor’s Center is 167 percent of normal.

Heavy snowpack in the mountains can increase the risk of flooding in Colorado’s rivers in the spring, but Ramey said it’s too soon to worry about that.

“It all depends how quickly it melts,” he said.


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