Downpours are welcome but won’t end the drought

Monday, Sept. 2, 2013 11:44 PM

With nearly three inches of rainfall recorded in Cortez last week, the city has exceeded average precipitation for the year.

“We were way above normal for the month of August,” said local meteorologist Jim Andrus.

Standard rainfall for the area in August is 1.37 inches, but Cortez received 3.69 inches of rain last month, nearly three times the average.

“We had a great month of rain,” Andrus said.

Last week, the city received 1.76 inches of rain on Aug. 26, and another 1.05 inches of rain fell very rapidly on the area on Aug. 30. Some areas recorded locally higher amounts.

Due to the August precipitation, Cortez has surpassed average year-to-date levels of precipitation. Andrus said normal precipitation for the year at this time is 8.27 inches. So far, Andrus has recorded 8.64 inches of rain in 2013.

Earlier in the month, Tropical Storm Ivo stalled off the coast of the Baja Peninsula dropping nearly two inches of rain on the area within a 48-hour period.

Despite above average rains, Andrus warned drought conditions would persist until water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell return to normal. Both reservoirs remain well below normal levels, he added.

A National Weather Service cooperative weather observer for Cortez for the past 16 years, Andrus said Montezuma County has experienced repeating drought conditions since 1997. He’s recorded below normal levels of precipitation over a majority of the last 15 years.