Pueblo National Weather Service Drought Impact Statement


March of 2013 was a generally cold month across southeast Colorado, due in part to a cool northwest flow pattern brought on by a persistent and extremely negative climate feature in the Arctic.  With this in mind, the current U.S. Drought Monitor indicates exception drought (D4) conditions depicted across Crowley, Otero, Kiowa and most of Bent and Prowers Counties, as well as portions of central and northwestern Las Animas County. 

Extreme drought (D3) conditions also remain across the rest of Las Animas County, extreme southeastern Bent County, extreme southern Prowers County and northern and eastern portions of Baca County.  Severe drought (D2) conditions continue to be depicted in extreme southeastern Las Animas and the rest of Baca County. 

Although some beneficial moisture has been received across portions of south central and southeastern Colorado over the past few months, it has not been widespread and enough to overcome the persistent drought conditions brought on by very warm and dry weather experienced over the past two years.  The drought has impacted south central and southeast Colorado in many ways, including increased wildfire activity and poor yields on non irrigated crops.  The latest Colorado Water Availability Task Force report indicated many municipalities are preparing to respond to continued drought conditions.  The two biggest water utilities in the state, Denver Water and Colorado Springs Utilities, have implemented Stage 2 drought declarations as of the first of April throughout the spring and summer season.

Moisture from the past two months has not been sufficient to alleviate the moderate to high fire danger across the southeast region of Colorado.  Several accidental wild fire starts were reported over the past month, including approximately 100 acres of land in Bent County.  A Red Flag Alert was posted on Friday, April 5, running east to Kansas and stretching along the I-25 corridor between Trinidad and Woodland Park.  A continued lack of moisture, along with increasing temperatures and the start of the Convective Season, will likely keep high fire danger across the area. 

The latest CPC and VIC Soil Moisture calculations continue to indicate drier to much drier than normal soil moisture conditions across most of south central and southeast Colorado.  The largest deficits in soil moisture remain depicted across the southeast plains. 

The following figures indicate precipitation in inches, for portions of southeast Colorado for the past 365 days and the departure from normal precipitation amounts: 

                                      Past 365 Days     Depart/Normal Precip 

PUB Airport                        5.16                             -7.41
Eads                                 10.26                             -5.42
Haswell                              7.96                             -7.38
Lamar                                 7.31                             -7.89
Campo 7S                         11.67                             -5.29
Walsh 1W                         16.85                            -2.31
Kim 15 NNE                      11.83                             -5.01
Walsenburg                      10.84                             -7.20
Trinidad                              8.82                             -7.49 

March snowfall produced a nominal increase in the statewide snowpack with the 73% of average reading on March 1st, increasing to 74% on April 1st.  There is some good news in that most major basins continue to accumulate snow and have yet to reach their peaks for the year.  The southwest portion of the state is an exception with significant decreases in snowpack percentages over the past month.  Cooler than normal temperatures have also delayed snowpack melt, contributing to a delay in the average snowpack melt timetable. 

In the Arkansas Basin, the April 1st snowpack increased 3% to 74% of average overall and 122% of this same time last year.  Overall reservoir storage for the Arkansas Basin was 55% at the end of March and below the 64% of average a year ago at this time.  The most recent streamflow forecasts continue to point to well below normal volumes in all the major river basins throughout the state for the spring and summer.

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCountyEconomyFeaturedGranadaHollyLamarProwers CountyWeatherWiley


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