Current Drought Summary for S.E. Plains


The warmest June on record in Colorado has been followed by the fifth warmest July on record for the state.  January through June 2012 now ranks as the second warmest calendar year since 1895 when records began.  The eastern plains saw the greatest departure from normal temperatures. 

As of August 14, 2012, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows 100% of Colorado has some level of drought classification with Severe and Extreme designations over 90% of the state.  The eastern plains make up an additional 9% with Exceptional drought ratings.  Otero Bent, Prowers, Crowley and Kiowa Counties all experienced extreme drought conditions last summer as well and had not fully recovered, which added to the economic and climate impact of the current summer.  Failed and prevented crop planting figures have increased since early July and irrigation abandonments are now being reported as well, according to the Colorado Water Conservation Board report.  The latest Climate Prediction Center Seasonal Drought Outlook released Thursday, August 16, forecasts that drought conditions will persist or intensify throughout much of Colorado through November, with some improvement expected for the southwest corner of the state. 

The latest USDA Colorado Crop Report indicates 94% of topsoil moisture is short or very short this week, compared to 91% the week before and only 45% at this same time last year.  Subsoil moisture readings show 95% as short or very short, compared to 94% last week and 48% last year at this time.  CPC and VIC soil moisture calculations continue to indicate much drier than normal conditions across most of southeast Colorado.  The worst conditions have now shifted back across portions of the southeast plains where deficits of up to 120 millimeters (up to 4 inches) are being reported. 

Streamflow was below average across the Arkansas Basin at the end of July.  Overall reservoir storage levels are also below average.  Combined reservoir storage levels in the Arkansas Basin was around 64% of average with 52% reported for the Upper Rio Grande Basin. 

The Colorado NRCS has an EQIP Drought Assistance Program available for rangeland producers in this area.  Those affected by the D4 drought and with 30 miles are eligible.  The program offers cost-share to producers who will defer their range land.  The program is for a minimum of two years of cost-share with the possibility of an extension for three years.  The producer must have control of the land for four years.  Contact your local NRCS office as applications must be submitted by Friday, August 31, 2012.

Contact the Lamar office at 719-336-3437, ext. 122


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