Rains Reducing Drought in S.E. Colorado

John Martin Dam 2015

John Martin Dam 2015

Drought Information Statement from National Weather Service

Record to near record precipitation throughout May has ended the drought across most of southeastern Colorado.  A very stormy month has produced widespread rainfall of two to four inches across most of south central and southeast Colorado, with pockets of six to eight inches of rain recorded across portions of the Lower Arkansas River Valley and pockets of eight to ten inches or more across northern and western portions of El Paso County.  This, along with above to well above normal precipitation, especially on the eastern plains for the water year of October through September, has allowed for continued improvement in the severe to extreme drought which has had its grip on the area for the past several years.

The latest US Drought Monitor, issued May 28, indicates an end to the drought across most of southeastern Colorado, with moderate drought (D1) conditions now confined to extreme southeastern Baca County and extreme southeastern Prowers County, and abnormally dry (D0) conditions indicated across the rest of Baca County, extreme southeastern Bent County and southwestern through northeastern portions 0of Prowers County.

The widespread beneficial precipitation over the past few weeks has allowed for decreasing fire danger across the area, especially over the eastern mountains and southeast plains, with green-up well under way.

CPC and VIC Soil Moisture calculations continue to indicate near normal conditions across most of south central and southeast Colorado with some pockets of wetter than normal conditions being indicated over the near the eastern and central mountains.

While widespread and beneficial precipitation was received across the area in the middle and at the end of April, the May 1st statewide snowpack reading fell to 61% of normal overall.  That’s down from the 69% of normal snowpack reported last month and is only 61% of the snowpack reported at this same time last year.  There also remain substantial differences in the snowpack distribution with near normal readings across northern basins and much below normal readings across the western and southern basins.

The May 1st snowpack report for the Arkansas Basin remained one of the highest in the state, running at 89% of average overall.  This is up slightly from the 87% of average snowpack reported last month and is 91% of the snowpack reported at this same time last year.  Snowpack distribution in the Arkansas Basin mirror that of the statewide readings, but southern portions of the basin are still running well below normal.

Statewide reservoir storage levels at the end of April came in at 108% of average overall.  This is up slight from the 107% of average storage last month and is also above the 93% of the average storage available at this same time last year.  However, southern storage levels fall well behind those reported for the north.

In the Arkansas Basin, storage levels on May 1st remained around the 80% of average overall reported last month, and remains above the 59% of average storage levels reported at this same time last year.  The below average snowpack continue to put a damper on late spring and early summer steam flow runoff forecasts, especially across the southern sections of the state.  The stream flow forecasts for the Arkansas Basin range from near 80% of average overall for the Arkansas River at Salida and Chalk Creek near Nathrop, to around 50% of average for the Cucharas River near La Veta and the Huerfano River near Redwing.  Here are the rain levels for May 2015 and 2014 for towns in southeastern Colorado.

2015 2014
Lamar 7.38 0.52
Holly 5.09 1.22
McClave 3.97 N/A
Las Animas 3.49 N/A
Eads 8.84 0.31
Sheridan Lake 6.31 0.52
La Junta 6.90 0.35
Rocky Ford 6.00 0.11
Springfield 4.02 0.93
Walsh 4.81 2.85
Campo 6.00 1.93
Kim 5.52 1.51
Trinidad 1.90 0.28

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCityCountyEconomyEnvironmentFeaturedGranadaHollyLamarMedia ReleaseProwers CountyPublic SafetyRecreationTourismTransportationUtilitiesWater ReportWeatherWiley


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