After days of sustained rain, Summit County feels green and wet, but weather experts say the drought persists.
Summit County remains under a moderate drought rating with the U.S. Drought Monitor, even as its neighbors to the east were downgraded to “abnormally dry” — the lowest rating.
But the precipitation over the last month, particularly in the last seven days, has exceeded normal rainfall for this time of year and has helped improve local conditions.
“It’s better than it has been,” National Weather Service hydrologist Triste Huse said.
Across the county, half an inch to 1.5 inches of rain fell in the last week, 200 percent more than the normal water accumulation for the time frame. In the last month, Summit County has received between 2 and 4 inches of rainfall, 130 percent over normal moisture for this time of year. The precipitation has primarily favored the northern part of the county, but stream flows across Summit are up to healthier levels than they were earlier this summer.
In four data collection locations, local rivers were flowing normally. Two were below normal and only the Lower Blue River was considered much below normal, according to U.S. Geological Survey readings.
In addition, both Dillon and Green Mountain Reservoirs are approaching their July averages and still increasing in volume.
The fire danger rating across Summit County has dropped to low — the bottom tier on the five-level rating scale — and remained there for several days.
As monsoon season wears on, weather watchers say the rain will continue, bringing in the more traditional and heavier afternoon storms over the next week.
“It’s generally characterized by different levels of a boost in moisture,” National Weather Service meteorologist Lisa Kriederman said. “We’re getting another batch of moisture up from the southwest. That will bring more cloud cover.”
The moisture is expected to let up today and Wednesday, with a slight chance of storms in the afternoons, but will return with a stronger system that is expected to begin Thursday and potentially last through Saturday. The new pattern will bring heavier rain through the end of the week and keep temperatures. Forecasters say there is more of the same in the outlook for next week as well.
“Generally there’ll be more moisture available for those thunderstorms to rain out,” Kriederman said.
Forecasts today call for mostly sunny skies with a slight breeze and temperatures in the high 60s. The mercury is expected to climb into the 70s on Wednesday with a 20 percent chance of showers after noon.
The latest weather forecasts for Summit County are available online at Weather.gov.