By Dave Aguilera

LA PLATA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Weather forecasting in and around the Four Corners area of Colorado is about to get a shot in the arm when it comes to watching out for heavy rain or snow.

For years when a big rain or snow storm pounded the southwestern part of Colorado, meteorologists have had a hard time pinpointing where a lot of the heavy rain or heavy snow had been falling. The closest radar images of the Four Corners area can come from Grand Junction, Albuquerque or even Flagstaff. Too far away to get a good handle on how much precipitation is coming down.

(credit: Kristi Householder)

In order to see precipitation from that far away is quite difficult. For example, the Grand Junction radar is on top of the Grand Mesa at an elevation over 11,000 feet. So, anything under 28,000 feet in the Four Corners cannot be picked up on radar. This leaves a lot of moisture unseen to forecasters.

Now with an award of $1.7 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs funding is available for a new and permanent radar system to be installed in the southwestern part of the state. One spark for getting the award was the flooding problems that occurred with heavy rains after the 416 Fire of last summer.

According to the Durango Herald the next step in getting the radar up and running is finding a location to set the system up. The Herald also reports Interim La Plata County manager Chuck Stevens says a timeline has not been set for when the radar system will be operational. But, the hope is to break ground in the spring of 2019.

This can also be a benefit for those of us on the Front Range. Forecasters can get a better handle on how much moisture might be in a storm system if it is moving from southwest to northeast toward the greater Denver metro area.

Dave Aguilera