Drought Update: S.E. Colorado Counties Still Hard Hit


Drought Information Statement, NWS in Pueblo 

While precipitation totals from the past two months have helped the northern and central portions of the state, ranging from 125 to 175% of normal, however the weather pattern did not bring much precipitation to southern portions of Colorado with levels of precipitation at 25 to 50% of normal across most of southeast and south central Colorado. 

The current Drought Monitor now indicates most of southeastern Colorado in Exceptional (D4) conditions, including central and eastern portions of Las Animas County, as well as all of Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, Bent, Baca and Prowers Counties.  Extreme (D3) drought conditions continue across eastern Huerfano and western Las Animas Counties.  Severe (D2) conditions are found in extreme northwestern Las Animas County as well as Alamosa and Costilla Counties. 

As a result of the persistent dry conditions, Governor Hickenlooper has activated the state’s Drought Response and Mitigation Plan to ensure that the state is doing everything possible to address these drought related impacts.  Many local communities, including Lamar as of May 2, have implemented drought response measures, including mandatory watering restrictions.  Reporting stations in Pueblo, Alamosa and Colorado Springs indicate less than normal averages for precipitation either through rain or snow for the past month. 

Precipitation levels from reporting stations in southeast Colorado are in inches:
                                April 2012                            April 2013
Eads                            1.97                                        0.44
Haswell                       0.94                                        0.18
Holly                            1.87                                        0.46
John M. Dam               0.79                                        0.23
La Junta                       1.73                                        0.10
Rocky Ford                  1.06                                        0.77
Lamar                          2.02                                        0.15
Las Animas                  1.55                                       0.00
Sheridan Lake              3.10                                       0.21
Springfield                   2.28                                       0.37
Walsenburg                 1.47                                       1.04
Walsh                          1.92                                       0.46 

The latest CPC and VIC soil moisture calculations indicate some improvements in conditions across northern and central portions of the state.  However, drier to much drier than normal soil moisture conditions remain depicted across most of south central and southeast Colorado with the latest deficits indicated across central portions of the southeast plains.  

The latest USDA Colorado Crop Report also supports the dry conditions across Colorado with 46% of soil moisture rated at short or very short across the state.  This compares to 44% of top soil moisture rated at short or very short last week and to only 36% at this tame time last year.  As for subsoil moisture, 74% was rated at short or very short this week, compared to 80% last week and to only 47% at this same time last year.  The latest pasture and range land conditions were rated 73% poor to very poor; compared to the five year average of only 32% rated the same.  The Colorado Crop Report also indicated only 13% of the winter wheat crop reaching the jointing state at this time.  This is well behind the 65% recorded last year and the overall average of 50% for this time of the year. 

Snowpack in March produced a nominal increase in the statewide snow pack with the 73% of average reading on March 1st increasing to 74% by April 1st.  Statewide snowpack remains well below normal although most major basins continue to accumulate snow and have yet to reach their peaks for the year. 

In the Arkansas Valley the April 1 snow pack increased 3% to 74% of average overall and 122% of this same time last year.  Overall reservoir storage continues to run well below average across southern Colorado.  The Arkansas Basin shows storage at the end of March was at 55% of average overall and below the 64% of average a year ago at this time.


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