Author Archives: mkelsch14

About mkelsch14

I work for the COMET Program at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, Colorado. I am the NWS cooperative climate observer and the local CoCoRaHs network coordinator. I have an MS degree in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma, and a BS in meteorology from the State University of New York, College at Oswego.

Some smoke coming, then wetter in early September

6 AM MDT, Saturday, August 28, 2021

Have you heard of Hurricane Nora? The weather headlines this weekend will be dominated by Hurricane Ida heading for Louisiana. But the lesser-known Hurricane Nora, on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, may be the one to have some influence on the weather in Colorado. An envelope of tropical moisture associated with the remnants of Nora are forecast to move north into Arizona and New Mexico by September 1st, and possible into Colorado and Wyoming during the period of September 2nd to 4th. That would increase the chances for widespread rain, but more on that in a few days.

Smoke: When prevailing winds are from the southwest, our smoke levels decrease because there is very little wildfire in the Southwest. But today the wind is more from the west, and some of the worst wildfire is to our west in central California. Smoke is already on the increase from Salt Lake to Cheyenne this morning, and that trend is likely to overspread the Denver-Boulder area today. A cold front this evening may help diffuse that smoke a little tonight and tomorrow, but the risk of occasional smoky skies will be with us for a few days.

Cold front: A cold front this evening will make Sunday a cooler day, but hot weather (90 in the lower elevations) is likely to return Monday and Tuesday. There may be some areas of low clouds and maybe some localized showers or drizzle tonight or Sunday morning, but widespread significant rain is not expected. Many areas will probably remain dry.

Moisture is leaving, smoke may return

7:30 AM MDT, Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The stretch of days with moisture in the air is coming to an end as a drier atmosphere will work its way across the region today and stick around through at least the end of the week.

I hope you had a chance to breathe deep this morning. There is still a lot of smoke across the northern Rockies that extends east from major fires in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. As the flow across Colorado becomes more northwesterly today, we may see a return to smoky skies. 90-degree days will also make a comeback this week.

Better chance for showers/thunderstorms starting this afternoon

5:45 AM MDT, Friday July 30, 2021

A plume of moisture associated with the southwest monsoon has been immediately to our west and is expected to move over the Front Range region later today and into the weekend. In addition, a cold front by this evening should result in some easterly or northeasterly upslope flow in the low levels. All of that means that the chance for showers and thunderstorms ramps up later today. There is a chance for showers to redevelop in parts of the area into the late night or early morning.

Over the weekend expect cooler temperatures than recent days with a better chance than the usual 20%-30% climatology for showers and thunderstorms.

Hot and dry now; some monsoon moisture this weekend

6:45 AM MDT, Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Temperatures in many low-elevation areas are likely to reach the 95-100 range this afternoon and Thursday afternoon. Friday will likely continue the heat wave, but with a small chance of afternoon thunderstorms re-entering the scene, and slightly less hot temperatures. The weekend is expected to bring cooler weather with a much better chance for showers and thunderstorms across the Front Range region.

What is the monsoon?

The Southwest monsoon (sometimes called the North American monsoon or the Mexican monsoon) is not responsible for all summer rain, but it can have a major influence during mid summer. It occurs when numerous thunderstorms along the Mexican Sierra pump lots of tropical Pacific moisture into the atmosphere. By mid July some of the moisture works its way into the American Southwest where it enhances the chances for showers and thunderstorms. In some years that moisture brings one or more periods of enhanced shower/thunderstorm activity to Colorado and Wyoming.

The monsoon has been active in the Southwest (including southern Colorado) this month. This weekend we may see it expand through Colorado and into Wyoming, at least for a day or two. Although there are exceptions, monsoon thunderstorms are not typically known for severe hail or tornadoes. But under certain conditions they can produce heavy rain.

Weekend weather update

6 AM MDT, Friday, July 23, 2021

It has been a while since I’ve posted, and that’ s because we have been in a typical (and not very interesting) July pattern with a small percentage of the Front Range receiving a late day thundershower and low elevation temperatures reaching into the 90s.

I don’t have any big changes to report, but there is a small change today and Saturday that may increase the chance for a late day thunderstorm, and the extra clouds will probably keep some portions of the Front Range a little below 90. The flash flood watch currently in the foothills is mostly to keep us aware that if a thunderstorm moves across an area recently burned by wildfire, there could be very rapid and dangerous runoff. Thunderstorms are likely to become more scarce again by Monday, along with low elevation temperatures rising back into the 90s.

You may have noticed that smoke haze from western fires is mostly gone. Don’t get too used to that. The fires are still there, it’s just that the wind direction is steering it more to the north of the Front Range region. I’m dreading its return sometime next week.

Thunderstorms, some locally heavy

1PM MDT, Thursday, July 1, 2021

There is plenty of moisture in the atmosphere today, so numerous showers and thunderstorms this afternoon means that just about everyone will hear thunder and get at least a sprinkle. A few locations are likely to experience heavy rain for an hour or two. Be alert for local flooding.

The weekend looks warm with a scattering of afternoon thunderstorms. The chance for rain is less than today, but it might still be good to have a plan B for your outdoor activity.

In the longer range, we may be heading for a hotter, drier period by the middle of next week.

Cooler, some rain likely

5 AM MDT, Thursday, June 24, 2021

A cool stretch begins today, but really kicks in tomorrow and should last through the weekend. An increased chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms will accompany the cooler weather.

Today will still be warm, but cooler than yesterday, with more clouds and thunderstorms scattered around in the afternoon and evening. Then for Friday through Sunday the afternoon, maximum temperatures could remain below 80 in the lower elevations of eastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. It is very likely that measurable rain will occur at least once at all locations this afternoon through Saturday night, and many areas could see measurable rain more than once. A few spots could even experience a strong thunderstorm.

Although western Colorado won’t cool off as much, less hot weather and small chance for thunderstorms will occur there as well.

Brief cool spell Sunday night through Tuesday morning

9 AM, Saturday, June 19, 2021

As the Little River Band once sang, “time for a cool change.” That change is coming, but it won’t last long.

Today is likely to be another hot day (but not record hot) with a considerable amount of clouds around and some locations getting an afternoon thunderstorm. Sunday will be warm at first, but the cold front may move into southeastern Wyoming and northern Colorado before evening, and then south through eastern Colorado during the evening. There may be a few thunderstorms around during the afternoon, and then a period of low clouds and some areas of drizzle or light rain Sunday night or early Monday. Monday’s high temperatures in the lower elevation may struggle to reach 75. But drier and hotter weather should be back by midweek.

The solstice occurs Sunday, June 20th, at 9:32 PM MDT. That will be just in time for the start of our 36-hour cool spell.

Western Colorado, where the drought persists, will not see much cooler weather or rain from this cold front.

Record heat today; a little less hot by weekend

6:10 AM MDT, Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The heat wave will continue across the Front Range today and tomorrow. There will probably be some clouds that briefly interrupt the temperature rise, but high temperatures in the low elevations are still likely to be upper 90s to around 100. The record highs today and tomorrow in Denver are 96 and 98, and in Boulder they are 94 and 98.

Less hot weather (but still quite warm) is coming up this weekend with a small chance for afternoon thunderstorms. It looks like there will be a real cold front late Sunday, so Monday might actually be noticeably cooler. But at this point it appears that very warm or hot weather will return after Monday.

Cooler Friday; generally hot and dry into next week

1:15 PM MDT, Thursday June 10, 2021

A cold front tonight will make Friday cooler, but still warm. No rain is expected. And then we are in for a stretch of generally hot and dry weather. Look for around 90 in the lower elevations this weekend, and well into the 90s by early next week.

It is not unusual for late June and early July to bring a prolonged period of hot, dry weather, but it seemed to kick in a bit earlier that average this year. This is particularly bad news west of the continental divide where they did not benefit from a wet May like eastern Colorado did. And remember that some of the Front Range water comes from the West Slope. As you go west down the Colorado River, snowmelt contribution to Lake Powell (Utah) is forecast to be only 25% of average this snowmelt season.

Enjoy the weekend, and bring your sunscreen along when you go out.