DENVER — The latest in a series of Pacific storms spreading damp weather across the West is raising concerns of flooding in areas stripped bare by forest fires.
A storm dumped up to 2 inches of rain in some areas of northern Utah over the weekend, causing minor flooding and a rock slide, and has moved into Colorado, which already is waterlogged from several days of rain. Up to 2 feet of snow is expected in the eastern mountains Tuesday.
Pacific storm systems are driving the unusually cold and damp weather, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Struthwolf said. A weather ridge that protected the West from storms all winter dissipated, opening the door for these latest patterns of disruptive weather, he said.
"We're just getting one storm after another," said Struthwolf, who is based in Salt Lake City.
In Nevada, the Las Vegas area had dark clouds Monday that brought showers and severe thunderstorms and let loose hail the size of quarters in neighborhoods close to the region's mountains.
Parts of Arizona and California have also been hit by heavy rains in recent days.
Pamela Evenson, a NWS meteorologist in Pueblo, said the storm moving into Colorado on Monday night and will linger all day Tuesday, dropping up to 2 inches of rain in some areas.
Forecasters are warning of the possibility of flooding on two burn scars left by devastating wildfires in the Colorado Springs area in 2012 and 2013.
"Those are our main concern areas with the system coming in," Evenson said. "The soils are pretty much saturated in that area. It's rained pretty much every day."
A flash flood watch will remain in effect in Teller and El Paso counties until Tuesday evening, she said, and the storm is expected to move out of the state by Wednesday.
May is typically Colorado's wettest month, and so far, it's rained almost every day this month.
"The ground just got really wet, and all the precipitation is just running off at that point," Evenson said.
On its march toward Colorado, the storm system dumped up to 2 inches of rain in some areas and several inches of mountain snow in Utah, flooding several homes, triggering an avalanche warning and forcing the closure a canyon road after a boulder the size of a car blocked the road.
But the precipitation also is good news for the drought-stricken Southwest.
"Any precipitation we get here would be beneficial, ultimately, for California," said Jim Pringle, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Junction, Colorado.
But how much water gets that far depends on how much is held back in a series of dams on the Colorado River. Winter snow in the Colorado mountains is a bigger producer of water for the Colorado River than spring rains, he said.
The river supplies water to about 40 million people in seven states, including California.
Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to this report.