weather

Gail Binkly

A brief but intense windstorm blew down trees and caused a power outage when it swirled through Cortez Monday afternoon.

koseb / Creative Commons

Lightning struck and killed a 24-year-old Durango man around noon on Sunday while he was mountain-biking near the Lizard Head Wilderness Area south of Telluride. The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office said in a release that John Daniel Huisjen was biking with his girlfriend on the East Fork Trail when a thunderstorm moved in. The couple and other cyclists sought shelter below tree line but Huisjen was hit. An off-duty Telluride EMT started CPR, but life-saving attempts proved unsuccessful. Huisjen’s girlfriend was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

StillWorksImagery / Creative Commons

Recent monsoon rains prompted the Montezuma County commissioners to lift the countywide fire ban on Monday. A total of 1.66 inches of rain fell in Cortez in July, according to local weather observer James Andrus. That’s 130 percent of the total for an average July. For the year so far, Cortez is at 143 percent of average.

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Floods from summer monsoons have closed several backcountry roads and campgrounds on Bureau Land Management land around Canyonlands National Park. Kings Bottom and Williams Bottom campgrounds are temporarily closed, and the Long Canyon Road inaccessible as well. The BLM recommends high-clearance vehicles to access Canyonlands National Park via the Mineral Bottom Road, and also to access the Bartlett and Poison Spider trailheads. The agency says it is working with its partners to repair the damage as soon as possible.

 

Robert Kraft / Creative Commons

The local monsoon season is approaching, but how much relief it may provide to rain-starved Montezuma County is still up in the air. Weather observer James Andrus told the county commissioners Monday that he is not optimistic about strong monsoons, but conditions may change. Andrus said two daily high-temperature records were set in June and there was a period of 53 days without rain before a meager three-hundredths of an inch fell on Cortez Friday.

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