OURAY BRIEFS
July Rainfall: One for the Recordbook
by Samantha Wright
Aug 02, 2012 | 1656 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DELICATE JOB – City crews and contractors installed a new water main and valving system near the Camp Bird Road last Wednesday, part of a $1 million project to provide redundancy to the City of Ouray’s water supply. It was a delicate operation, which required shutting off the water main temporarily, but according to City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli, “indications are that everything went perfectly.” (Courtesy photo)
DELICATE JOB – City crews and contractors installed a new water main and valving system near the Camp Bird Road last Wednesday, part of a $1 million project to provide redundancy to the City of Ouray’s water supply. It was a delicate operation, which required shutting off the water main temporarily, but according to City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli, “indications are that everything went perfectly.” (Courtesy photo)
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OURAY – If you thought it was a wet month, you were right. July 2012 set a new record for rainfall in Ouray.

On Monday this week, with one weather day still to go, local National Weather Service data recorder Karen Risch reported 5.34 inches of rain had fallen in Ouray during the month of July. The old record, set in 1981, was 4.95 inches.

More rain has since fallen, swelling that record even more.

Here’s another way to crunch the data: Ouray received almost as much precipitation in the month of July as it did in the entire six-month period from January through June, 2012 (5.80 inches).

The wet month of July seemed even wetter in comparison to the disconcertingly dry ones which preceded it. Ouray received only 0.36 inch of rainfall in June. Things were even worse in May, which delivered a mere 0.09 inch of precipitation – just 5/100ths of an inch shy of setting a new record for dryness in May, according to Risch.

July, in contrast, has had only five days without measurable precipitation. Things were seriously soggy from July 4 on. As is often the case with summer monsoonal weather patterns, the rain came down in intense, gully-washer events that turned Cascade Falls the color of chocolate milk, and sent boulder-filled floodwaters thundering through Ouray’s flumes.

Three separate cloudburst events in July each dumped .86, .91 and .83 of an inch of rain on town in a relatively short period of time.

“Any way you look at it, it’s a lot of rain,” Risch said.

While July set a record for wetness, the rest of the year so far has been well below average for precipitation levels. Only February has been a normal month, precipitation-wise.

“We’re still at less than half of what we normally get,” Risch said. “We do need to make up a lot of precipitation.”

According to the National Weather Service, the average annual amount of precipitation in Ouray for one water year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30) is 22.92 inches. The town has received 16.28 inches of precipitation since the beginning of the current water year. “We are down 7-8 inches and have two months to go; conceivably we could make that up,” Risch said. “August and September can be really wet, too.”



TOWN CREW COPES WITH RAINFALL



The City of Ouray sits in a bowl into which flow a number of mountain creeks. Skyrocket, Bridalveil, Cascade, Portland and Oak Creeks are all known to bust their banks from time to time and cause flash-flooding in town, especially during wet months like this past July.

But so far this summer, the city’s flume systems, which channel floodwaters from Cascade and Portland Creeks directly through town into the Uncompahgre River via concrete chutes, are holding up well, and there have been no major problems with flash flooding, said City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli.

This may be because much of the storm water seems to have dumped right on top of town, rather than higher up in the various mountain drainages where flash floods tend to get started.

The intense and relentless cloudbursts of the past month have led to some problems with road erosion, however. The city’s street drainage systems, too, have been overwhelmed in places by the sheer quantities of water and material with which they have been inundated.

“There are places that need improvement that cannot be fixed because we are in reactionary mode,” Rondinelli said. “But at least now we know where the problem areas are.”



NEW ROUTE FOR PERIMETER TRAIL



The Ouray Perimeter Trail has been rerouted to pass through a portion of the Ouray Ice Park.

Hikers following the trail in a clockwise direction now enter the Ice Park via a narrow footbridge crossing the Uncompahgre Gorge near the Ouray Hydroelectric Plant Dam, and then follow a trail through the Ice Park that eventually reconnects with the established Perimeter Trail near Box Canyon Park.

Ouray Mayor Bob Risch, a member of the Ouray Trail Group and one of the Perimeter Trail’s lead advocates, couldn’t be more delighted about the change, which was made possible in May when the City of Ouray obtained title to land within the Ice Park that formerly belonged to the United States Forest Service.

“It’s a real pretty area back there,” Risch said.

The re-route eliminates a portion of the popular loop trail that formerly required hikers to trudge along the Camp Bird Road for about a quarter mile. It also adds eight-tenths of a mile to the circuit, bringing the total length of the Ouray Perimeter Trail to about five miles.

While the new route ties into an existing trail system within the Ice Park, it did require the Ouray Trail Group to construct about 1,000 feet of new trail, said Risch.

As its name suggests, the Ouray Perimeter Trail circumnavigates the City of Ouray, taking in spectacular views and unique attractions such as the High Bridge and an old tunnel in Box Canyon Park, and Cascade Falls. It can be accessed at many different trailheads around Ouray, including its official one across the highway from the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.

New maps of the Perimeter Trail, provided by the Ouray Trail Group, are available at the Ouray Visitor Center.



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