Turning drier and warmer as rivers show signs of improvement

Zack Webster's KJCT First Alert Weather - 5/24
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 12:10 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Scattered showers and thunderstorms continue mostly over the higher elevations of the Western Slope today, then drier and warmer conditions start moving in through the rest of the week.

One More Round of Rain

We’ve already seen one round of light rain move across the Western Slope this morning, and our next round of showers and thunderstorms is starting to develop over the San Juan Mountains, storms will continue to pop up north and northwest of the San Juans through lunchtime, then that band of showers and storms will move northeast across the High Country and the Continental Divide through the afternoon and into the evening. Most of the showers and storms stay along the higher terrain, but I’m especially watching Delta and Montrose for a slightly higher chance of seeing some rain in and around those valley locations through the afternoon. Rain ends and skies clear out this evening and into tonight as drier air moves into the region.

Drier and Warmer

A ridge to our east gradually expands westward into our area tomorrow, and that will start to turn us drier and much warmer across much of the Western Slope. We’ll still see an increase in clouds by the afternoon, but developing showers and thunderstorms by the afternoon will almost entirely be over the High Country and the Continental Divide. We’ll continue to see mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies with falling rain chances through the rest of the week and into the weekend. We’ll turn warmer as well with high temperatures in the valleys headed for the lower and middle 80s. Some upper 80s cannot be entirely ruled out in the warmest locations.

River Updates

Rivers are still high, fast, and dangerous for a good portion of the Western Slope, but there are some signs of improvements on the horizon. Flood Advisories have been discontinued for the San Miguel River and Plateau Creek, but they continue until further notice for the Dolores River, the Colorado River, the Gunnison River, and a good portion of the Yampa River in the northern portions of the region. Water levels should start falling along most of the rivers starting Thursday or Friday, but Plateau Creek may be one of the hold-outs.

The Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah state line was at 12.07 feet late Wednesday morning. Small ups and downs in the water levels will keep the river near or just above its 12.5-foot action stage. It will gradually rise toward a crest of 12.71 feet on Sunday morning.

  • 6 feet: Some lowland and meadow flooding is possible near Fruita
  • 10 feet: Water will approach sections of I-70 near Fruita
  • 12 feet: Considerable agricultural flooding is likely between the Redlands and Fruita
  • 14 feet: Flooding is likely in the Redlands

The Gunnison River near Grand Junction - just south of town - was measured Wednesday morning at 10.13 feet - above its 10-foot action stage where minor flooding starts to occur. The river is slowly subsiding, but daily ups and downs can be as high as about 10.46 feet until the water levels drops below action stage early Sunday.

  • 7 feet: Water inundates sections of the river walk near Redlands Dam
  • 8.6 feet: Water reaches the top of the left bank of the west side of the Hwy 141 Bridge, and water begins to fill the gravel quarry upstream from the bridge.
  • 9 feet: Lowland flooding near the Redlands Dam is likely, including some low-lying agricultural land.
  • 10 feet: Considerable agricultural flooding is likely between Whitewater and Orchard Mesa and water flows into the quarry downstream of the Hwy 141 Bridge
  • 11 feet: Water nears the bottom of the Hwy 141 Bridge and it reaches the base of the bridge near Redlands Dam.
  • 13 feet: Residential flooding begins near Redlands Dam

The Plateau Creek near Cameo was at 6.49 feet late Wednesday morning. Water levels are slowly rising amid daily ups and downs of the water level. It is expected to rise above its 7.0-foot action stage early Saturday morning. The highest level in the forecast is 8.3 feet on Wednesday morning. That’s a little lower than previous forecasts had suggested, and it’s below the record water level for the creek. It’s still high enough for some residential flooding near the creek.

  • 7.5 feet: Some lowland flooding can be expected along Highway 65 just east of I-70.
  • 8.0 feet: Water approaches homes in the low-lying areas adjacent to Plateau Creek.

JUCO World Series Forecast

Not much has changed here. We’re still expecting mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies through the day. Temperatures will start out in the upper 60s to lower 70s as the first game gets underway at 9 AM, then we’ll warm into the lower and middle 80s by the third game at around 3 PM. Temperatures will gradually cool from the upper 70s and lower 80s when the final game of the day gets started at 7:30 PM, and we’ll cool back through the 60s by the time the final game wraps up. Bring a hat and sunglasses, and bring plenty of sunscreen if you’re planning on being in the stands for all four games.

Next 24 Hours

Showers and thunderstorms will mostly stay over the higher elevations of the region once again this afternoon, but Delta and Montrose could see a slightly higher than usual chance of seeing a few of those showers and storms down in the valleys. We’ll see partly cloudy skies elsewhere with highs in the upper 70s and lower to middle 80s. Skies clear as rain ends overnight tonight with lows in the middle to upper 40s around Cortez and Montrose, with lower to middle 50s around Grand Junction and Delta. Clouds will increase again through the day on Thursday, but we’re staying dry and turning warmer with highs in the lower to middle 80s.