No Relief in Long Term S.E. Colorado Drought

Drought Information Statement from National Weather Service-Pueblo



June saw a continuation of hot and dry weather across much of south central and southeast Colorado with most of the area receiving well above normal temperatures and well below normal precipitation.  A portion of the southeast plains was an exception which saw near or slightly above normal rainfalls, thanks to a few slow moving thunderstorms.  As welcome as the precipitation was, the amounts brought only minor, short-term relief to area farmers and land management agencies. 

The current U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of southeast Colorado in exceptional D4 drought status, ranging from portions of El Paso, Pueblo and Las Animas Counties, to all of Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, Bent, Prowers and Baca Counties.  D3, or extreme drought conditions are experienced in some portions of Fremont, Teller, Custer, Pueblo, El Paso, Huerfano and Las Animas Counties.  Other counties are experiencing D2 and only a few counties are experiencing D1 drought classifications. 

Conditions across Colorado contributed to the start of several naturally caused and human induced wildfires over the past month, including the Black Forest Fire, which become the state’s most destructive wildfire on record, taking two lives and destroying over 500 homes.  Several fires are still on-going into July, sometimes fueled by strong winds and very low humidity. 

The latest CPC and VIC soil moisture calculations indicate slight improvements in conditions across the far southeast plains, although soil moisture still remains well below average.  The largest deficits in soil moisture are indicated across central portions of the southeast plains.  

The latest USDA Colorado Crop report indicated isolated precipitation had a positive impact on crops across portions of the state, tough the vast majority of soil moisture supplies remained short or very short.  87% of top soil moisture rated at short or very short across Colorado.  This compares to 81% of top soil moisture rated at short or very short last week and 93% at this same time last year.  Subsoil moisture across the state was 91% rated at short or very short this week, compared to 84% last week and to 91% at this same time last year.  The latest pasture and range land conditions were rated at 71% poor to very poor, compared to the five year average of only 36% rated as poor to very poor. 

With some late season runoff helping to fill some reservoirs, mainly across the northern basins, statewide storage was up to 78% of average by the end of June.  In the Arkansas Basin, storage levels at the end of June were running at 58% of average overall and 81% of the storage available at this same time last year.  Streamflow forecasts remain below average across much of Colorado with the Rio Grande Basin remaining the lowest in the state with flows ranging from 14 to 52% of normal through the rest of the summer.  The Arkansas and Gunnison Basins are also indicating low forecasts ranging from 26 to 71% of normal flows. 

The following are the precipitation levels for southeast Colorado communities, comparing June 2012 to 2013: 

                                2012                       2013

Eads                       1.28                        0.61
Haswell                  0.37                       0.05
Holly                       2.62                       0.80
J. M. Dam              1.64                       2.08
La Junta                 0.09                       2.00
Lamar                    1.19                        2.12
Las Animas           0.10                        0.00
Springfield           1.98                        1.69
Trinidad                0.01                        1.08
Towner                 0.90                        1.60
Wiley                     1.40                        2.09|
Walsh                    3.94                        3.12



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