Wet and wild July helps,
 but water supply still tight

The rainfall total for July was one for the record books.

According to the National Weather Service, Grand Junction received 1.37 inches of rain in July, making it the 12th-wettest July on record dating back to 1893.

The 30-year average for July is just 0.61 inches.

The National Weather Service is located near Grand Junction Regional Airport, and meteorologist Joe Ramey said rainfall totals were “very variable across the valley and western Colorado.”

Despite the above-average rainfall in July, Darren Starr, manager of streets, storm water and solid waste for Grand Junction, said his department is on schedule with its summer projects, particularly its chip seal program.

“In years past, we always allot for rain-out days, but we haven’t used one this year,” he said. The city dealt with flooding in July but certain areas often flood after heavy storms, he said.

As wet as July was, however, Grand Junction is behind its average for yearly rainfall through the first seven months.

The 30-year rainfall average through July is 4.87 inches. After a below-average February and March and a “very dry” June, the city has received 4.79 inches of rain this year, Ramey said.

“Even though we have had a wet July, we had a very dry spring and early summer,” he added. “We are officially still in a drought. Yes, our vegetation is doing well in the short-term, but . . . go look at the reservoirs. We do not have stored water.”

Joe Burtard, spokesman for the Ute Water Conservancy District, echoed Ramey. Ute Water relies heavily on snowmelt to build its water supply, so July rainfall, although helpful to keep moisture in the air and lower temperatures, didn’t significantly alter that supply.

Burtard said Ute Water customers used 368 million gallons of water in July when 1.37 inches of rain fell compared to 360 million gallons in June when 0.01 inches fell.

Those numbers were from Ute Water’s treatment plant and excluded Wednesday, Burtard said.

A bump in moisture is typical in July thanks to what’s commonly called the monsoon season.

The monsoon is essentially a seasonal shift in wind direction, Ramey said. From September through early summer, the winds typically blow west to east. However, during the monsoon, winds often blow south to north, bringing in moisture from the sub-tropical regions.

When the winds shift back in September, Grand Junction benefits from storm systems generated in the Pacific, as well as those in sub-tropical regions, resulting in the wettest months of our calendar year.

“July is a fairly wet month on average, but August, September and October are wetter yet on average,” Ramey said.

As August begins today, rain’s in the forecast. August’s average rainfall in Grand Junction is 0.94 inches. September is traditionally the wettest month with an average rainfall of 1.71 inches.

As an aside, the wettest July on record in Grand Junction was in 1929 with 2.72 inches of rain.

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