NWS Recaps Hot and Dry Summer on S.E. Plains

Southeast Colorado Drought Update 

The Colorado Water Conservation Board reports in their September 25, 2012 Drought Monitor Report, that 100% of the state is experiencing some level of drought classification with D2 and D3 conditions predominating over 80% of Colorado.   Seventeen per cent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought all of which is isolated to the eastern plains where conditions have deteriorated over the last month.  That area received no measurable precipitation last month, although temperatures in August were relatively cooler than in June or July. 

Reservoir storage is at 68% statewide.  Highest storage levels are in the Yampa/White River Basin, at 104% of average while the lowest storage in the state is in the Rio Grande River basin at 50% of average.  The Colorado Water and Availability Task Force has reported that all of south central and southeast Colorado Counties have received 2012 primary secretarial disaster designations for drought and crop loss.  While dry conditions have resulted in decreased yields, high commodity prices have helped to alleviate some of the impacts.  To date, the state has seen a 40% increase in agricultural exports.  The Force reports that failed and prevented crop planting figures have increased since early July, with irrigation abandonments now being reported as well. 

The current drought monitor has expanded D4 conditions to include central portions of Las Animas County and extreme eastern Baca County.  D4 conditions persist in northwestern Las Animas County, as well as portions of Otero, Crowley, Kiowa, Bent and Prowers Counties. 

The Drought Information Statement from the National Weather Service indicates the latest USDA Colorado Crop report indicates 95% of topsoil moisture in Colorado as being short or very short, compared to 94% last week and only 69% at this same time last year.  Subsoil moisture was reported with 97% short or very short, compared to 95% last week and only 62% at this same time last year.  CPC and VIC soil moisture calculations continue to indicate much drier than normal conditions across most of south central and southeast Colorado.  The worst conditions remain across the southeast plains where deficits of up to 120 millimeters, (up to 4 inches) are being reported. 

Record high temperatures were set by reporting stations in Alamosa, Pueblo and Colorado Springs for the past summer.  For the summer as a whole, Pueblo was 4.3 degrees above the seasonal average, making the past summer the second warmest on record.  Pueblo had only 1.22 inches of precipitation which is 4.52 inches below the seasonal average and marks the second driest summer on record as well for the city.  Pueblo also reported 14 straight days with temperatures at or above 100 degrees.

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