July monsoons bring much-welcome drought relief to area
After months of dry weather and deepening drought, July brought much-welcomed relief to San Juan County.
Day after day of rainy weather, fueled by the annual southwest monsoon, led to a dramatic increase in precipitation.
The wet weather was particularly welcome coming on the heels of a brutally hot and dry June. June conditions helped fan the flames of the Pack Creek Fire in the La Sal Mountains, which consumed nearly 9,000 acres and a number of homes and other buildings.
Unfortunately, the July rains also triggered several flash floods on the burn scar of the fire. The mud and debris rushed down Pack Creek all the way to the Colorado River in Moab.
While there have been other instances of flash flooding in areas in July, the damage has generally been kept to a minimum.
Monticello received nearly three inches of rain in the month, greatly exceeding the average July totals of 1.71 inches.
The extended period of rain has brought green to the landscape. Last weekend, the Hideout Golf Club in Monticello hosted the biggest tournaments of the year on a lush and green course that had been dry and brown just weeks earlier.
In addition, the significant threat of wildfires has dropped dramatically, with most areas too wet to be at risk for wildfire. This is the case even though the storms are often accompanied by lightning.
The rains halted – at least temporarily – what had been a steady drop in the water level of area reservoirs.
After dropping by seven feet since the start of the year, the water levels in both Recapture Reservoir and Loyds Lake have stabilized in recent weeks.
Nathan Langston, the Public Works Director for the City of Monticello, reports the city had pumped more than 131 acre-feet of water from Loyds Lake to the city storage ponds through the month of June. However, the pumping stopped in July and the storage ponds have remained full.
The rains have continued into August, with Monticello receiving .94 in the first three days of the month.
The forecast for coming days is back to dryer conditions and warmer temperatures.