Water year precipitation rebounds with wet monsoon season

It was a strange water year in San Juan County, with months of deepening drought and three glorious months of rain. The overall result for the water year, which wrapped up on September 30, was remarkably close in some areas to the precipitation amounts for a normal water year.

For the water year, Monticello received 14.91 inches of precipitation. This is 99 percent of the multiyear average of 15.1 inches.

The year-end total represents a remarkable turnaround from the year-to-date totals in June, before the arrival of the annual monsoon season.  On June 30, Monticello had just 66 percent of normal precipitation.

Since that time, Monticello has received 8.67 inches of rain, which is 172 percent of the normal three-month average of 5.03 inches.

In contrast, the monsoon season brought wet weather to other locations of San Juan County, but not in as dramatic a fashion.  Bluff finished the water year with 4.53 inches of precipitation, which is just 58 percent of the historic average of 7.76 inches. Bluff received 2.04 inches of rain during the monsoon season.

Blanding received ten inches of rain for the water year, which is 75 percent of the historic average of 13.3 inches. Blanding received 5.46 inches of rain during the monsoon season.

For the water year, the Camp Jackson weather station in the Abajo Mountains received 25.4 inches of precipitation.

The months of wet weather have given a wonderful start to the dryland farmers who plant crops in the fall.  The winter wheat crop appears to be green and healthy and gives hope to farmers who have struggled during the drought. Similarly, the landscape is greener than normal, offering hope to the ranchers who rely on grazing for their livestock.

While the monsoon season has alleviated the stress of the continued drought on dryland agriculture and ranching, the water storage situation remains a major concern.

The water level in Lake Powell, the massive reservoir on the Colorado River, has fallen to record levels, resulting in closure of the majority of docks and ramps on the reservoir.

Lake Powell currently holds less than 30 percent of its capacity, with a water level 155 feet below capacity. The water is 50 feet below the level one year ago.

Similarly, the level of local reservoirs – including Loyds Lake and Recapture Reservoir – is significantly below full capacity and below the levels of one year ago.

In the past summer, Loyds Lake has dropped ten feet and Recapture Reservoir has dropped seven feet.

Reservoirs will need to rely on a wet winter and heavy snowpack to recharge their water levels.

San Juan Record

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