Smoke increasing, showers decreasing, and warm turns warmer

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 5:48 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - The rest of this week will be marked by warmer, drier changes.

Increasing Smoky Haze

Smoke is still an issue, too. The smoke is blowing southward from wildfires over western Canada. Smoke is expected to gradually increase across Western Colorado tonight through Wednesday. Expect a hazy sky. Smoke concentrations will be highest well above the ground through about midday Wednesday. After about midday, ground-level smoke is expected to increase, especially well south of I-70 in areas from Montrose and Nucla south. If you have respiratory issues, it’s best to avoid the outdoors if you can. If you have to be outside, avoid strenuous activities that make you breathe harder.

Our Next 24 Hours

This evening will be partly to mostly cloudy with a small chance for a stray shower or thunderstorm. Most areas will stay dry. Sunset is at 8:27 PM. We’ll cool from upper 70s around 6 PM to upper 60s by 10 PM. The rest of tonight will be partly cloudy. Low temperatures by morning will be near 56 degrees around Grand Junction, 49 degrees around Montrose, 54 degrees around Delta, and 46 degrees around Cortez. Wednesday will be partly cloudy with a small chance for a couple of stray showers or thunderstorms. Most of the showers and thunderstorms will stay over the mountains, and the valleys will likely stay mostly dry. Sunrise is at 5:52 AM. High temperatures will be near 84 degrees around Grand Junction, 79 degrees around Montrose, 83 degrees around Delta, and 80 degrees around Cortez.

The Rest of This Week

Steady warming will make low-to-mid 80s more common all across the Western Slope by this weekend. Warmer areas - including the Grand Valley - may even manage some upper 80s on one or two days. We’re inching closer to that first 90-degree day, but there are still no solid indications that we’ll reach 90 degrees in our next seven days. This warming comes with a drying trend that will mean fewer showers and thunderstorms even over the mountains.

River Alerts

Rivers are still a concern as water levels are still rising - most with daily ups and downs, but rising over the longer term. A Flood Advisory continues for Plateau Creek near Cameo, for the Gunnison River from west of Delta to Grand Junction, and for the Colorado River from Grand Junction to Moab, Utah. A Flood Warning is in effect for the Dolores River from the Colorado River in Utah to McPhee Reservoir.

Tracking River Levels & Impact

The Colorado River near the Colorado-Utah state line was at 12.19 feet on Tuesday afternoon. 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 just over 12.8 feet feet on Friday night or Saturday 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 Tuesday afternoon at 10.32 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 10.8 feet until the water levels drops below action stage late 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 6.12 feet on Tuesday afternoon. 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 Saturday night or Sunday morning. The highest level in the forecast is 8.3 feet on Monday. 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.

Other rivers, including the Dolores River near Bedrock and the Gunnison River at Delta, are running high and fast, but for now they are expected to remain below their action stages and their flood stages. Remember that even rivers that aren’t flooding are dangerous due to their high water levels and fast-flowing water.