NWS: Another cool-down likely headed this way next week

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FARMINGTON — San Juan County residents hoping for the season's first stretch of summer as Memorial Day weekend approaches were dismayed May 20 to see snowflakes falling from the sky for much of the morning.

Although the powder didn't stick around long, melting almost as quickly as it fell, the sight of snow in the final third of May was an unwelcome development for those eager to see the county finally emerge from what has been a prolonged stretch of colder- and wetter-than-normal weather.

Annette Mokry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said that the dusting of snow in the Farmington area was unusual, it wasn't unprecedented.

"It's an unseasonably cold storm for this time of year," she said. "It's probably happened before. But it's something we haven't seen in a while."

Weahter: Get the latest forecast

Mokry said temperatures in the northwest corner of the state are running 15 to 20 degrees below normal. She said the NWS had no reports of snow accumulations at higher elevations by midday on May 20, but she said shortly after noon that radar and satellite imagery showed more precipitation headed toward the area before the system was due to exit the Four Corners later in the day.

While the precipitation is expected to decline or even stop over the next several days, temperatures will remain cool, Mokry said, with May 21 expected to be particularly cool and breezy. The NWS forecast shows high temperatures only in the 50s and lows in the 30s for much of the week. A warming trend is expected to arrive just in time for the holiday weekend, with daytime highs forecast to reach the 70s by Saturday.

The cool weather is good news for those keeping an eye on the snowpack in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's summary for the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan rivers basin on May 20 showed the snowpack is at 293 percent of normal — and 19,000 percent of last year's snowpack, when a lack of precipitation throughout the winter meant the white stuff was largely a rumor by late May, even in the mountains.

More: Mother's Day weekend storm adds to New Mexico's already impressive snowpack

The May 20 storm prompted managers at the Purgatory Resort north of Durango, Colorado, to offer a bonus weekend of skiing this weekend. The resort picked up 8 inches of snow from the storm and will be open for skiing May 25-26. Officials said in a press release that will be the first time in its history that Purgatory has been open for skiing during the last weekend of May.

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The weekend warmup forecast for the Farmington area doesn't mean residents finally can break out the patio furniture and cargo shorts. Mokry said the unsettled weather pattern across much of the country means another cool-down likely will take place next week, so it probably will be June before a summer pattern finally begins to emerge.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or via email at measterling@daily-times.com.

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