STP 05-30-2016: A few storms amidst lots of sunshine

Issue Date: Monday, May 30th, 2016
Issue Time: 9:05AM MDT

Happy Memorial Day!

Several scattered complexes of weak thunderstorms developed across mainly eastern Colorado on Sunday. Once again, despite impressive storm structure (making for very photogenic pictures), the cells had a hard time getting much rainfall to the ground. The problem? Dewpoint depressions, defined as the difference between the surface air and dewpoint temperatures, were on the order of 30-40 degrees F. As such, rainfall that began to fall out of the cloud base quickly evaporated and cooled the air around it. This “swamp cooler” effect led to widespread gusty winds, even up to 60 mph, prompting several severe thunderstorm warnings. Meanwhile, rainfall totals topped out at about 0.4 inches for a few lucky locales, but with most other observations in the 0.1 to 0.25 inch range. A few 0.75 inch hail reports were received near Manitou Springs, where the 7,000 foot elevation made it easier for hail to reach the ground with minimal melting.

Taking a step back, we have discussed previously how it has been a rather cold May statewide. The updated numbers, see the map below, show that nearly all of Colorado has been below average with a few areas east of the Divide up to 5F below normal! This has certainly been a boon to the high-elevation snowpack with many locations continuing to sport over 1 foot of snow water equivalent (SWE). Some of the more impressive numbers from SNOTEL sites: Tower in the Park Range with 42.6 inches(!), Black Mesa in the San Juans with 27.5 inches, and Never Summer in the Medicine Bow range with 19.2 inches of SWE remaining.


No flooding reports were received yesterday. For specific rainfall estimates in your area, please check our STP map below.