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Old 08-04-2017, 05:36 PM
 
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My wife and I are looking to relocate from Seattle to somewhere with less rain and way less people. We were in Telluride twice this last year and fell in love. The mountains are so dramatic and we're ready for small town life. We both love the outdoors, have no kids, and between the two of us we spend all the free time we have hiking, mountain biking, fishing, skiing, rock climing, dirt biking etc...

We're all but committed to the move until we recently learned what summer monsoon season is all about. My wife just finished hiking the CO trail from Denver to Durango and out of 30 days she got rained on every day but two. This wasn't light Seattle drizzle, but sideways hard driving rain for hours with hail and temps dropping to the upper 40's. It wasn't just a passing thundershower at 4pm, but long nasty spells of rain starting as early as 11am. She said it was an absolutely stunning backcountry, but being cold and wet setting up camp in the rain every day was a huge buzz kill, especially knowing Seattle rarely gets a drop in the summer.

We don't mind some rain, but the idea of having your day's activity of choice wrapped up by 1-2pm to avoid the rain EVERY day isn't what we're looking for.

Finally to my question. Is northern CO, say the Steamboat Springs area, any better off when it comes to monsoon season? Do we need to give up on the idea of CO and head further north to avoid daily rain? Living in the desert is not an option. We need to be in the mountains or foothills less than 30 min to skiing and not somewhere folks from Denver will go to in a day trip. Does such a place exist in CO?
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Old 08-04-2017, 06:39 PM
 
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I can't speak for every mountain area, but from my own few years' experience, rains (or snow) and thunderstorms can come any day of the year in the mountainous regions. I would count on a shower, sometimes as little as 15 minutes on any given afternoon. The rule generally is to be below treeline by noon.
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Old 08-04-2017, 07:11 PM
 
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
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The further north you go, the less you will be impacted by the summer monsoon. We have been having a heavier than usual monsoon season here in SW Colorado. It's been rainier and far more humid than normal. There was even a dusting of snow on the La Platas the other day. However, even in a more normal summer, you have to take into account the high probability of rain showers from mid July to mid or late August, especially as you climb in altitude. I can see where it might be disconcerting to someone used to the PNW climate regime where the summers are pretty much sunny and dry. I spent one summer camped near Telluride on the San Miguel River and the summer monsoon got even me down, and I'm a Colorado native. Still it's not much fun to get rained on almost every afternoon, especially if you are tent camping. The San Miguel turned into a torrent and threatened to overflow its banks when August came around. However, by the beginning of September the monsoon generally clears out and we are rewarded by a nice Indian Summer that can sometimes linger all the way to late October. Of course in Telluride you are going to have plenty of snow from late November (depending) all the way to April (depending). I don't make too many generalizations about the weather these days. Climate change combined with the already variable Colorado weather makes for a weather situation where all bets are off.

I've visited the Steamboat area several times in the summer and I always lucked into clear skies. However, can't say from personal experience whether Steamboat always has sunny summer weather since I've never lived there for any length of time. At any rate, whenever you go up into the mountains be prepared for sudden changes in the weather - especially once you are above 10,000 feet or so.
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Old 08-04-2017, 07:27 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado Rambler View Post
The further north you go, the less you will be impacted by the summer monsoon. We have been having a heavier than usual monsoon season here in SW Colorado. It's been rainier and far more humid than normal. There was even a dusting of snow on the La Platas the other day. However, even in a more normal summer, you have to take into account the high probability of rain showers from mid July to mid or late August, especially as you climb in altitude.
I'm surprised that SW CO is getting that much rain this monsoon season, as here in northern NM, while we've had a little rain the last couple of weeks, it hasn't been heavy or more than about 20 minutes in duration. Is it the higher elevation that causes the clouds to release more of their moisture up there, after passing over NM? We could really use that moisture.


OP, you might check out Taos, NM, which gets a lot less rain than SW CO when monsoon season hits, it's in the mountains and is very scenic, has a great ski area outside of town, and is a small, picturesque town of adobe buildings (not the old Wild West/Gold Rush type architecture of the CO mountain towns, though. Not sure if it matters to you). The mountains aren't as high and dramatic as the ones around Telluride, but there's still some serious elevation and forest to explore. The Rio Grande this far north is in a very deep gorge, and is great for river rafting, too.
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Old 08-04-2017, 10:51 PM
 
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This monsoon is definitely more than average this year. I've seen monsoon way less than normal some years, where basically your only rain comes from disturbances along a frontal boundary (cool front) which is about once every two weeks or so and fire danger is above normal in general. From about 96-2013, the southwest mostly had drier than normal years. Even though there were some good years here and there during this time, it was mostly below average in terms of precipitation. I think we may be coming out of a long term dry spell, let's hope anyway, there's no telling. I live in El Paso county near Colorado Springs and we had our fair share of long term fire bans. I've lived in Colorado since 08 but lived in Northern New Mexico and Texas prior. We almost had a fire ban in 2008 and 2010 was rather dry and had a three year ban/drought from 2011-2013. The only real good years in terms of precip I've seen have been 2009, 2015, and this year. Along with the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires that ravaged us in 2012 and 2013. We are due for not being very dry for a while hopefully. I just don't want floods or anything. So, I don't think you would expect this to be the norm. As another poster said, the further north you go, the less monsoon you get. So true, Northern Colorado gets more rain in June while Southern Colorado usually gets more rain during the Summer Monsoon.

Last edited by Educator1982; 08-04-2017 at 10:56 PM.. Reason: added some more info
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Old 08-04-2017, 10:59 PM
 
218 posts, read 110,626 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colorado Rambler View Post
The further north you go, the less you will be impacted by the summer monsoon. We have been having a heavier than usual monsoon season here in SW Colorado. It's been rainier and far more humid than normal. There was even a dusting of snow on the La Platas the other day. However, even in a more normal summer, you have to take into account the high probability of rain showers from mid July to mid or late August, especially as you climb in altitude. I can see where it might be disconcerting to someone used to the PNW climate regime where the summers are pretty much sunny and dry. I spent one summer camped near Telluride on the San Miguel River and the summer monsoon got even me down, and I'm a Colorado native. Still it's not much fun to get rained on almost every afternoon, especially if you are tent camping. The San Miguel turned into a torrent and threatened to overflow its banks when August came around. However, by the beginning of September the monsoon generally clears out and we are rewarded by a nice Indian Summer that can sometimes linger all the way to late October. Of course in Telluride you are going to have plenty of snow from late November (depending) all the way to April (depending). I don't make too many generalizations about the weather these days. Climate change combined with the already variable Colorado weather makes for a weather situation where all bets are off.

I've visited the Steamboat area several times in the summer and I always lucked into clear skies. However, can't say from personal experience whether Steamboat always has sunny summer weather since I've never lived there for any length of time. At any rate, whenever you go up into the mountains be prepared for sudden changes in the weather - especially once you are above 10,000 feet or so.
So true!! You seem to know about weather, I study meteorology and weather patterns too. This couldn't be explained better.
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Old 08-04-2017, 11:00 PM
 
Location: At the end of the road
468 posts, read 624,962 times
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We just moved to the San Luis Valley and I have been told that it has been much wetter than normal. I was just joking yesterday as I ran into a store, trying to avoid the sideways rain that I had been told, "Move to Colorado, they said. You will love all the sunshine, they said." From what I have heard from some longtime residents is that while it is unwise to plan an afternoon outdoor wedding this time of year, this year has been more than the norm. Seriously, this valley that I was told was always mostly brown is looking kinda green.
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Old 08-05-2017, 12:07 AM
 
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This summer has been more monsoony than usual, but mountain thunderstorms starting in early afternoon are typical. Look in nearly any mountain trail guidebook and they say be done, or at least below treeline, by about noon.

SW CO has gotten so much moisture that it is abnormally green for summer. Last fall, too. The two preceding winters dumped a lot of snow.

PNW gets most of its rain in winter; CO gets snow in winter, with thunderstorm rains in summer.

Bend, OR area might fit your skiing priorities without the monsoonal rains.
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Old 08-05-2017, 12:15 AM
 
5,308 posts, read 2,754,696 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunabell View Post
We just moved to the San Luis Valley and I have been told that it has been much wetter than normal. I was just joking yesterday as I ran into a store, trying to avoid the sideways rain that I had been told, "Move to Colorado, they said. You will love all the sunshine, they said." From what I have heard from some longtime residents is that while it is unwise to plan an afternoon outdoor wedding this time of year, this year has been more than the norm. Seriously, this valley that I was told was always mostly brown is looking kinda green.
Just wait. When I lived in the Front Range foothills, thunderstorms hit almost every afternoon for a couple years. Then the drought came. Even winters were dry; I loved the lack of snow in an especially dry winter but knew it was bad news. Pine beetle, very high risk of wildfire, wells running dry...they all followed.

CO weather is exceptionally variable.
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Old 08-05-2017, 07:39 AM
 
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The northern Front Range has seen more rain than in recent summers, as well. We had another huge rain last night, which is the 2nd in two weeks.
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