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July 16, 2013
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‘Unique’ storm system halts monsoons in Summit County

A strange, backward weather system brought a temporary dry spell to Summit County and much of Colorado Tuesday and today, holding off the monsoonal showers that typically descend in the afternoon until the end of the week.

An unusual low pressure system that brought heavy rain and lightning activity to Breckenridge and much of the state Monday, pushed the moisture into Utah by the following day as it continued a very uncommon progression west. Weather systems generally move into the U.S. from the west and migrate east, forecasters said.

“This system we have today formed over Wyoming and Ohio last weekend and it’s been traveling westward with time, kind of similar to the way hurricanes track from east to west,” National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Dankers said. “It’s very anomalous and a really unique pattern. I don’t remember seeing it in my 20 years here.”

But the same system is expected to continue on its odd westward course later this week, finally breaking up in Mexico and allowing monsoon rains, the likes of which have not been seen in Summit County in several years, to return in full force by Thursday or Friday.

Forecasters say the storms, which are common in the afternoons in late July, will be stronger and likely bring more moisture than in recent years.

“It will rebound and come back toward us,” Dankers said. “There’s a pretty good plume of moisture organizing over Mexico, so it could be more rain than we’ve seen the last couple of summers. The last couple of summers have been drier, we haven’t had really strong monsoons. This is kind of a return to what we saw in the 1990s.”

Slower moving storms have the potential to bring up to half or three quarters of an inch of water to mountain areas this week.

NWS forecasts are calling for scattered storms today, increasing to a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms by Thursday night and into the weekend. Meteorologists say the same weather pattern will likely continue into the weekend.

Heavy rains caused problems for the Front Range early in the week, producing floods, mudslides and lightning activity.

Public works officials in Denver warned that creeks and underpasses were overflowing, causing water to flood roads.

In Summit County storms this week are expected to keep temperatures mild. Forecasts call for highs to remain in the mid to low 60s through Sunday.

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.


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The Summit Daily Updated Jul 17, 2013 10:06AM Published Jul 18, 2013 01:40PM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.