Experts say Wednesday's rainfall too little, too late

The rain and hail Wednesday was too little, too late for drought-stricken farmers and not near enough for area firefighters to let up their guard.

Trapper Mine officials measured .41 inches of precipitation Wednesday. It fell quickly in the afternoon, flooding gutters with water, but drying fast in the late afternoon sun.

Craig Fire Chief Roy Mason said fire danger is still high.

"For the long term it didn't change anything," he said. "It kind of helped the ones who are fighting now, but long term its still critical."

Mason said fire bans would probably remain in effect.

"The rain was a temporary reprieve," he said. The big thing is we still have a lot of dead, dry fuel on the ground and that's what gets us."

Rancher Genie Voloshin said the rain will help pasture land, but was too late to help farmers, most of whom have already taken their second cutting of hay. It was also bad news for those who have already cut and stacked hay. Wetness causes mold on uncovered hay and lessens its value.

The rain had a slight effect on the Yampa River, bringing its flow from 12 cubic feet per second (cfs) up to 26 cfs, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The river was at a low of 8 cfs on Aug. 16 and a 30-day high of 98 cfs on July 27.

Water restrictions are still in place in many communities and the Denver City Water Board voted to tighten water restrictions. Aurora and Frisco followed suit Wednesday.

Aurora, the state's third-largest city with 276,000 people, has limited residents to watering every third day since May 15. The new restrictions were approved as city reservoirs dropped to 45 percent of capacity, the lowest in the city's history.

According to the National Weather Service, today is expected to be mostly clear. Late afternoon thunderstorms are expected Friday, but highs should still be in the mid 80s. Continuing partly cloudy weather is forecasted through Tuesday, but no other rain is predicted.

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