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Think Northern Colorado Has Been Wetter Than Normal Lately? You’re Right

Stephanie Paige Ogburn
Storm clouds roll in over 14th and York Street in Denver, Colo.

If you feel like you’ve dodged more than your share of hail and giant, plunking raindrops over the past few weeks, you probably have.

According to data from National Weather Service stations, Fort Collins received 4.76 inches of rain this May, which was 2.33 inches more than normal. Although it was only the 16th wettest May on record for the city, it is the wettest since 1995. Data collected by the Weather Service at the Denver Airport also shows May 2014 rainfall there was 3.51 inches -- 1.39 inches higher than normal.

“We’ve definitely had some storms that have contributed a great deal of rain over the month of May,” said Nolan Doesken, the Colorado state climatologist.

May was fairly warm, and warmer temperatures and moisture in the air create conditions conducive to thunderstorms. In mid-May, several tornadoes touched down east of Aurora, and Denver International Airport temporarily shut down over severe weather concerns.

On Sunday, as rain pounded much of the Front Range, five tornadoes touched down in northeast Colorado, according to the National Weather Service, and two more hit to the south. Just two days before, on July 6, a front coming from Wyoming led to tornadoes in eastern Weld County, severe storms, and hail.

"The atmosphere is pretty ripe. It’s warm, it’s moist, so it’s pretty unstable. And then you have that boundary move through and that just helps to pop off these storms," said Kari Bowen, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Denver/Boulder office.

Although the weather has been wetter than average, severe weather is pretty normal in Colorado this time of year, with hail as a common outcome, experts say.

The wet weather could stick around in June, which is a sort of secondary wet season for the state, said climatologist Doesken. "In June in Denver, along with the Front Range and plains is when we can see some of the most severe weather," he said.

Climate outlooks for Northern Colorado are projecting a wetter than average June, so don't put those raincoats away just yet.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn has been reporting from Colorado for more than five years, primarily from the Western Slope.
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