Just after extreme drought returned to Colorado, the impacted area has expanded in the southern portion of the state according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The second worst category of drought had left the state in March 2019 before making its return this month.
In the southeast, extreme drought expanded into Crowley, Lincoln and Cheyenne counties, and increased its presence in Baca, Prowers and Kiowa counties.
For the southern Colorado mountain area, extreme conditions expanded in Saguache, Custer, Huerfano and Las Animas counties.
Severe drought expanded north in central and eastern Colorado, replacing moderate conditions. Moderate drought also gave way to abnormally dry conditions in parts of Pitkin, Chaffee and Gunnison counties.
Wrote the National Weather Service in their synopsis, “Snow packs in the Arkansas and Rio Grande basins were near normal over the past winter. However, that snow was not enough to relieve the on-going drought, which developed through the late summer and early fall of 2019, due to below average summer precipitation. Warm and mainly dry conditions over the past month of April and through the first half of May has led to deteriorating drought conditions across all of south-central and southeast Colorado.”
Seventy-seven percent of the state is in moderate, severe or extreme drought. The worst drought category, exceptional, was most recently recorded in Colorado in February 2019.
Currently, 18 percent of the state is in extreme drought. Severe drought increased to 46 percent. Just 23 percent of Colorado is drought-free.
One year ago, 11 percent of Colorado was abnormally dry, while the remaining 89 percent was drought-free.
Two fires ignited this week in Las Animas County. Fire danger for the region has also been high.
According to the Drought Information Statement, “The warm and relatively dry weather over the past several months has led to continued depletion of soil moisture across the area, with the latest 1 month and 2 month Evaporate Demand Drought Index (EDDI) indicating the worst conditions across the southern tier of Colorado. The lack of soil moisture and the slow start to green-up has fire danger indices high to extreme across most of south central and southeast Colorado.”