Monsoon Rains Bring Some Relief to Drought



The Drought Information statement from the National Weather Service in Pueblo states the southwest monsoon came alive across Colorado in July, continuing to be active into the middle of August.  The precipitation has brought some short and long term relief to the severe to extreme drought conditions which has had its grip on the area over the past two years. 

The current U.S. Drought Monitor shows improvement across southeast Colorado and the Plains where widespread precipitation totals of four to locally in excess of eight inches (125 to 250% of normal) have been recorded since July 1.  Exceptional (D4) drought conditions are now limited to portions of Crowley and Otero County, Kiowa, western Bent County and eastern Prowers County.  Some D3 conditions also exist in those regions as well as Baca and Las Animas counties.  The Monitor indicates 26% of Colorado is in Extreme to Exceptional conditions as compared to 53 % of the state at the start of the year and 65% this same time last year.  

Clay Creek Area, August 8, 2013

Clay Creek Area, August 8, 2013

These monsoon rains have also been detrimental to several communities that have experienced wildfire and forest fire burns this past summer.  Several destructive and life-taking flash floods have been recorded since July 1, especially in Teller and El Paso Counties due to the loss of vegetation and the development of hydrophobic soils caused by the fires.  These types of soils tend to repel rather than absorb rainfall. 

The latest CPC and VIC Soil Moisture calculations continue to indicate improvements across portions of southeast Colorado, especially along the southeastern mountains where soil moisture has improved to near or slightly below normal.  However, conditions remain generally below normal across most of the area with the largest deficits in soil moisture in the lower Arkansas River Valley. 

Recent Rain Storm West of Lamar

Recent Rain Storm West of Lamar

The latest USDA Colorado Crop report also indicates the improvement in soil moisture conditions with 58% of top soil moisture rated at short or very short across the state.  This compares to 68% of top soil moisture ratings last week and to 94% at this same time last year.  Some improvement in subsoil conditions was also indicated across the state with 77% rated at short or very short this week compared to the same 78% last week and to 95% at this same time last year.  The report also indicated slight improvement in pasture and rangeland conditions with 52% rated at poor to very poor.  This compares to 62% rated at poor to very poor conditions last week, though remains above the five year average of only 38% at this time of year. 

The monsoon rains have helped to ease water consumption across the area though reservoir storage areawide still remains below or well below average.  The storage levels in the Arkansas Basin at the end of July were running at 53% of average overall and 82% of the storage available at this same time last year.  The upswing in precipitation and improve soil moisture has also improved streamflow with 61% of USGS gages indicated normal to much above normal 7 day average flows with only 17% of the gages indicating low to much below normal readings over the past week. 

On a local level, the City of Lamar Water Report for July shows 77,400,000 million gallons of water was treated for the month, along with 22,377,586 million gallons of wastewater.  The allocated amount of Project Water (1,699 ac.ft.) has reached the Recharge Pond and the city has received an additional allocation for 2013 Project Water to include approximately 213 ac.ft.


Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCitycommunityCountyEconomyEnergyEnvironmentFeaturedHot TopicsProwers CountyRecreationWater ReportWeather


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