Western US Daily Snow

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By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 1 month ago June 19, 2024

Heavy Rain Coming to New Mexico & Parts of the Southwest

Summary

The West will be undergoing some pattern shifts over the next several days as the Northwest warms back up following a late-season cold snap. Moisture from a tropical disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico will reach New Mexico and the Southwest late this week, bringing much-needed rain to fire-stricken areas. This pattern will also introduce a flash flooding threat to canyon country.

Short Term Forecast

Big Picture Weather Pattern:

The focus of our weather pattern over the next few days begins in the tropics, where the first tropical disturbance of what is expected to be an active hurricane season will be making landfall in Eastern Mexico.

Moisture from this disturbance will work its way northward into the Southwest U.S., aided by southwest winds and "energy" associated with a trough of low pressure centered over California which will interact with this moisture to produce widespread showers and thunderstorms.

New Mexico looks to take the brunt of this system, including areas where large wildfires have been burning this week.

5-Day Precipitation Forecast:

New Mexico and Southwest Colorado will see the heaviest rainfall over the next 5 days, though eastern portions of Arizona and Utah will also see impressive rainfall amounts for June.

Further north, the Northern Cascades and Northern Rockies will see occasional light showers or thunderstorms, but with an overall warming and drying trend compared to earlier in the week.

Southwest Rainfall (Next 3 Days):

Moisture will increase across New Mexico and Colorado starting on Wednesday, but initially, thunderstorm coverage will be isolated in nature with hot temperatures and breezy conditions potentially resulting in another active wildfire day.

The most notable fire right now is the South Fork Fire near Apache Ski Area, which has forced an evacuation of the town of Ruidoso. Fingers crossed they can hang on for another day or two before more favorable conditions arrive.

On Thursday, more numerous thunderstorms are expected with locally heavy rain possible, followed by more widespread showers and thunderstorms from Thursday night through Friday night with more significant rainfall – including Ruidoso.

Check out our hourly forecasts for Ruidoso on Friday. Relative humidity (left image) will be above 80% all day, and we are forecasting a total of 0.53 inches of rainfall. The uptick in moisture along with cooler temperatures will aid in firefighting efforts.

While the rainfall is good news overall, it won't be without its hazards as flash flooding will be possible over fire burn scars and in slot canyons and dry washes.

To the north, Colorado will also see more widespread showers and thunderstorms, especially on Thursday and Friday with Friday in particular looking like the wettest day. The Southern San Juans will see the heaviest rainfall with this system but thunderstorms with heavy downpours will be possible statewide.

Also, Eastern Utah including the Moab area is expected to receive heavy rainfall in this pattern as well, and flash flooding will be possible in slot canyons and dry washes. 

If you have outdoor plans in the Colorado Rockies late this week, be sure to check out our hourly weather forecasts, and if you have cell service while outdoors, you can use our Lightning Risk Map which lets you know the probability of lightning within the next hour.

West-Wide Forecast for Wed (Jun 19) to Thu (Jun 20):

Scattered thunderstorms will develop across the eastern ranges of Colorado and New Mexico on Wednesday as the leading edge of moisture arrives. Lingering moisture and instability from the early week system across the Northwest will also contribute to isolated showers and thunderstorms across the North Cascades and Northern Rockies. 

On Thursday, more numerous thunderstorms will develop across New Mexico and Colorado with showers and storms remaining possible overnight. Eastern portions of Arizona and Utah will also get in on the action.

Forecast for Fri (Jun 21) to Sat (Jun 22):

Friday will be the wettest day of this pattern with showers and thunderstorms possible across the Southwest throughout the day and also through much of Friday night. Heavy rain and isolated flash flooding is possible in vulnerable terrain.

A weaker system to the north will also bring some isolated light showers to the Washington Cascades along with scattered thunderstorms for the Northern Rockies, favoring areas east of the Continental Divide. 

Extreme heat is expected to build over Southern California on Saturday along with gusty winds, which could spell an active period for the Post Fire and other fires burning in the area. 

Forecast for Sun (Jun 23) to Mon (Jun 24):

The pattern will begin to relax somewhat across the Southwest, but we will continue to see lingering moisture with scattered thunderstorms developing each afternoon across the Four Corners states. Rainfall amounts will be lighter compared to prior days, but the daily storms will signal the beginning of an early-stage monsoon pattern.

The North Cascades in Washington will continue to see an unsettled pattern with scattered light showers, more so on Sunday than Monday. 

Extended Forecast

Forecast for Tue (Jun 25) to Sat (Jun 29):

A hot pattern will continue across most of the West with the highest temperature anomalies shifting into the Central Rockies. The Northwest will remain in a cooler pattern with near to slightly below-average temperatures along with occasional showers as another trough moves into the region.

A low-grade monsoon circulation is expected to continue across the Southwest with above-average moisture levels for late June. This will result in daily rounds of isolated to scattered thunderstorms over elevated terrain with most storms producing light rain. 

Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Friday (June 21).

Alan Smith 

Announcements

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View the real-time lightning risk for the next 60 minutes and lightning strikes over the past hour for any area in the United States with our new "Lightning Risk" map overlay.

This overlay is incredibly useful for knowing:

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Getting Started

  1. Tap the "Maps" tab.
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Here's an example of the lightning risk increasing and strikes occuring across Wisconsin on June 12, 2024.

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About Our Forecaster

Alan Smith

Meteorologist

Alan Smith received a B.S. in Meteorology from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has been working in the private sector since 2013. When he’s not watching the weather from the office, Alan loves to spend time outdoors skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, and of course keeping an eye on the sky for weather changes while recreating.

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