A wet May so far for Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins

While Northeast Colorado experienced a lackluster winter in terms of moisture, May of 2018 has been a much different story so far.  However, there has been a noticeable difference in precipitation with areas from Denver north to the Wyoming border experiencing above average precipitation this month, while areas south of the Palmer Divide, including Colorado Springs and Pueblo, have been much drier.  Here is a look at departure from average precipitation across Colorado so far this month.


colorado precipitation may 2018


The precipitation distribution shows a much more favorable trend to areas north of the Palmer Divide and areas east of the Continental Divide.  A low pressure system at the beginning of the month tracked favorably across Northern Colorado, bringing significant moisture to the Northern Front Range (and even heavy snow to the foothills).  Since then, persistent low pressure over the Great Basin has kept the weather unsettled across Northeast Colorado, but the best moisture has consistently remained over Northeast Colorado.  This is great news for areas such as Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins who received below average snowfall this winter. 

However, the pattern has been unfortunate for drought-stricken areas of southern and western Colorado.  May is one of the wettest months on average for much of the state, and these areas have largely missed out on the beneficial moisture that Northeast Colorado has experienced.  Take a look at the latest drought monitor.  Most of Northern Colorado is in good shape, while drought conditions across Southern Colorado are rated as exceptional to extreme.


colorado drought conditions


Below is a list of some of the rainfall totals across the I-25 corridor and Eastern Colorado through May 20th, with the departure from average rainfall for the period May 1 – May 20 listed in parenthesis.  Notice how the precipitation departure noticeably decreases from north to south.  The most impressive amounts have been over the northeast plains, such as in Akron where 4.82″ of rain has fallen so far this month! 


Colorado Rainfall Totals – May 1 through May 20, 2018 (Departure from Average in parenthesis):

  • Akron:  4.82″ (+ 2.80″)
  • Boulder:  4.40″ (+ 2.48″)
  • Greeley:  3.82″ (+ 2.27″)
  • Ft. Collins:  2.98″ (+ 1.21″)
  • Denver (downtown):  2.11″ (+ 0.56″)
  • Castle Rock:  1.99″ (+ 0.51″)
  • Monument:  1.46″  (- 0.17″)
  • Pueblo:  0.37″  (- 0.69″)
  • Colorado Springs:  0.35″  (- 0.99″)
  • Walsenburg:  0.32″  (- 0.93″)


The outlook for the next 7-10 days looks relatively unsettled, but generally drier compared to the first 3 weeks of the month with less rainfall potential.  The past few weeks have helped Northeast Colorado out a lot after a dry winter, but there is no drought relief in sight for Southern Colorado unfortunately.

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