Despite rain, weather year on track to be driest on record |

Despite rain, weather year on track to be driest on record

SUMMIT COUNTY – About an inch of slow-falling, soaking rain fell on Summit County last week. Nevertheless, the 2002 weather year – which ends Sept. 30 – is so far the driest in 120 years of local record keeping, according to Breckenridge weather watcher Rick Bly.

“That’s a profound thing,” said Bly, who records precipitation for the National Weather Service. “Our average precipitation for the year is about 20.7 inches. This year, as of today, we’ve received 11.59 inches of precipitation.

“The next driest year I can find is 1939, when we got 13.7 inches,” he said. “Assuming we don’t get 3 inches of rain in the next 15 days, this is the driest by a lot.”

Both Bly and Denver Water employees, who also monitor weather at Dillon Reservoir for the National Weather Service, have recorded about an inch of rain in the last week. Normal September precipitation is 1.4 inches, Bly said.

But history suggests county rainfall won’t reach that normal level this year.

“Typically, October is our driest month, and the end of September is usually pretty dry, too,” Bly said, adding that September is likely to fall right in line with recent history.

“The last time we had a month above average (precipitation) was September 2001, so we’ve gone 12 months below average,” he said.

While Dillon Reservoir – now at 60 percent of its total capacity – continues to fall, the recent rain slowed the pace at which it’s diminishing. Instead of falling three to four inches a day, it’s dropped in the last few days at a rate of less than an inch, said dam caretaker Ron McGow.

That’s also thanks to Denver Water, he said, which reduced the flow of water from the reservoir into the Roberts Tunnel and the Denver system.

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