National Weather Service Drought Update




Southeast Colorado saw a full spectrum of weather over this past April.  Well above and below seasonal temperatures were experienced in the area last month.  Below normal precipitation was also noted except near the eastern mountains which had above normal amounts.  The southeast plains saw below to well below normal precipitation and the current U.S. Drought Monitor continues to indicate the drought deepening and expanding across southeastern Colorado.

Exceptional (D4) drought conditions have expanded north and east and now include western Otero County, southwestern Crowley County, southwestern through west central Kiowa County and southwestern through extreme northeastern Bent County.

Extreme (D3) drought conditions have also expanded to include all of the rest of Kiowa County.  D3 conditions continue to be indicated across the rest of Crowley and Otero Counties, the remainder of Bent County, most of Prowers County as well as extreme northeast and extreme south central Las Animas County and extreme northwest and extreme southeast Baca County.

Severe (D2) drought conditions remain depicted across southeastern Prowers County and the rest of Baca County, plus some portions of Las Animas, Pueblo and El Paso Counties.

Southeastern Colorado continued to see significant dust storms over the past month due to the lack of vegetation from long term drought and windy weather associated with strong cold fronts moving across the region.  Fire danger has remained high across the area through the early spring, especially over the snow free areas of the southeast plains where grasses have not greened.

The CPC and VIC Soil Moisture calculations continue to dictate near normal conditions in place across most of south central and southeast Colorado.  The one exception remains across the far southeast plains, especially across portions of the lower Arkansas River Valley, where well below normal soil moisture conditions continue to be reported.

Despite declines in all basins throughout April the statewide snowpack was at 107% of average on May 1 which is 128% of the snow pack in place at this same time last year.  Unfortunately the snowpack remains unevenly distributed across the state with the northern and central basins continuing to track well above average conditions, where as the southern basins continue to see well below average snowpack.

The 2014 snow season has been a normal year overall for the Arkansas Bain.  The snowpack reached its peak on mid April at 108% of normal peak levels.  As of May 1, the basin wide snowpack was at 99% of average with the Arkansas headwaters running at 112% of normal and the southern portions of the basin running at 75% of normal.

With over half of the state’s reservoirs currently at 100% of average storage or better, and nearly three quarters of the state’s reservoirs running at or above 80% of average at the end of April, statewide reservoir storage is in fairly good standing at this time.

Storage levels in the Arkansas Basin remained the lowest in the state at 59% of average overall on May 1.  On a more positive note, Pueblo Reservoir is running right at 30 year average storage levels with volumes at 54% of capacity.  Late spring and early summer streamflow forecasts across northern portions of the Arkansas Basin remain at or above average overall, while streamflow forecasts across southern portion of the basin remain generally below or well below average.  With the vast majority of statewide reservoirs having higher storage levels that at this same time last year, area water providers remain optimistic that no water restrictions will be implemented this year.

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