Colorado Springs sets record: May was wettest month - ever - for city

By Ellie Mulder Updated: June 8, 2015 at 3:48 pm • Published: May 30, 2015 0

May was officially the wettest month recorded in Colorado Springs.

At 7 p.m. Friday (May 29) the city broke the previous record of 8.1 inches of precipitation, after getting an official total of .22 inches Friday, the National Weather Service said. The previous record was set in 1935.

"What's been really interesting is how many days it's rained - it wasn't just a few big rains," said Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist at Colorado State University's Colorado Climate Center.

It is unusual that Colorado Springs' wettest month came outside of the typical southern Colorado wet season of July and August, according to Doesken.

The new record came as the National Weather Service issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for central El Paso County that remained in effect for a couple of hours. Between 1 inch and 3 inches of rain dropped across the area in about an hour as thunderstorms and heavy rain moved through the area.

There was a small amount of pea-sized to penny-sized hail between 6 and 7 p.m. May 29 that stretched from northwest Colorado Springs as far east as The Citadel, according to KKTV 11 Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe. There also were reports of large amounts of small hail in eastern El Paso County.

"This time of year we're getting into the peak of thunderstorm season," Bledsoe said, and those storms often deliver hail.

This spring, considered the months of March through May, also is the fourth wettest spring on record, with a total of 9.84 inches of precipitation, according to National Weather Service statistics from Thursday.

While the rain is falling at lower elevations, the snow is piling up atop Pikes Peak.

On Friday, the drifts were 15 feet high on the west and east sides of the Summit House.

The Pikes Peak Highway is open to mile marker 15, the Double Cut between Glen Cove and Devil's Playground. That leaves four miles to the summit uncleared. Under ideal conditions, crews hope to have the road open to Devil's Playground early next week and to the 14,115-foot summit in about 10 days.

But more snow is in the forecast.

Although this is an El NiƱo year, which typically results in warm oceanic temperatures that impact precipitation, National Weather Service meteorological technician Randy Gray emphasized that the location of these sea surface temperatures has caused the abnormal increase in moist weather systems.

"The location of the warm temperatures along the equator has helped steer these systems our way," Gray said.

There are also increased oceanic oscillations, according to Bledsoe, meaning that the Pacific Ocean is warm and the Atlantic Ocean is cool, resulting in wetter weather.

This increased precipitation in Colorado Springs is part of a multi-state weather pattern that has resulted in unusually high amounts of rain from southern California into Colorado, parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, according to Doesken.

"This has been a total drought-buster for the southern area," Doesken said.

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