NWS Says Drought Conditions Continue in Colorado

The National Weather Service reports the current U.S. Drought Monitor continues to indicate severe drought conditions across all of Teller, El Paso, Pueblo, Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, Bent, Prowers and Baca counties.

Fire Danger remains very high to extreme across most of southeast Colorado with area fire agencies having to extinguish multiple wildfires over the past month, due to persistent dry vegetation. Fire bans and restrictions have been recently implemented for the city of Colorado Springs and several counties, including but not limited to El Paso, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Prowers and Teller.

The latest USDA Colorado Crop Report rates 77% of topsoil moisture across the state as short or very short compared to only 7% rated short or very short at the same time last year. Subsoil moisture across the state is also reported to be dry, with 74% being rated at short or very short at this time, compared to only 10% at this same time last year. CPC soil moisture calculations continue to indicate the dry conditions as well, with much of south central and all of southeast Colorado showing deficiencies of 40 top 70% of seasonal norms. The Colorado Crop Report also states that pasture and range feed conditions were rated at mostly fair to poor across the state due to the limited moisture received over the winter.

Water Supply Outlook

Dry conditions prevailed over most of the Arkansas River Basin in March. As of April 1 the Upper Rio Grande Basin snowpack had dropped to 76% of average, down from 88% of average last month, and trailing behind the snowpack last year at this time which was 115% of average. In the Arkansas Basin, the snowpack was at 103% of average overall, down from 108% from last month and tracking slightly below the snowpack last year at this time which was 104% of average. Most of the snowpack in both basins was over western portions of the basins, along the Continental Divide. Eastern portions of the Basins, along the Sangre de Cristo and Wet Mountains were running well below average.

The Rio Grande and Arkansas basins both saw below average precipitation in March. Water year precipitation totals on April 1 were below average in both basins. The Rio Grande Basin reported 83% of average, down from 90% last month. The Arkansas Basin reported 93% of average precipitation last month, down from 96% of average last month. Precipitations for southeast Colorado for this past March were averaging 2 inches less than the year before.

Overall reservoir storage is running below average across southern Colorado. Storage in the Rio Grande Basin on April 1 was at 82% of average overall, the same as last month, but trailing behind storage levels last year at this time which were around 90% of average. In the Arkansas Basin, storage was at 90% of average overall, which is the same as last month, but less than storage levels last year at this time which were around 107% of average.

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