Eastern Colorado: Say hello to drought

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Chris Woodka has an article running in the Pueblo Chieftain catching us up on the emerging drought on the eastern plains. From the article:

Water supply in the next three months could be pivotal going into the summer, said Nolan Doesken, Colorado State University state climatologist. “We’re at the beginning of the most critical time of year (spring) where the water that falls from the sky has a greater effect on the state water supply than any other time of year,” Doesken said in a press release. “We’re at that point where it could go either way.”

The National Drought Monitor, a consensus of some 200 federal and academic scientists, categorizes much of Front Range in a moderate drought. Temperatures across the state in February stood at 4 degrees above average with very little precipitation, which is not unusual, particularly along the Front Range and on the Plains, Doesken said. “March and April need to be wet to get the state safely into the hot summer months ahead,” he said. Forecasts call for above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation from March through May, Doesken added…

Pueblo has had only 0.08 inches of precipitation to date, with warm windy weather for much of the winter. Statewide, snowpack has leveled out to about average levels, with the South Platte River basin lowest at 91 percent of average and the Colorado at 111 percent. The Arkansas River basin was at 107 percent, while the Rio Grande basin was at 104 percent. Most of the snow has fallen at elevations above 9,500 feet…

Out east, farmers are wondering when the next rain will fall. “We’ve had about half an inch, and other than that nothing since mid-October,” said Dale Mauch, who farms on the Fort Lyon near Lamar. “Things are tinder dry. It’s drier than 2002, because this time we have no sub-moisture.” Actually, Mauch sees very little break in the drought that began to grip the Southeastern corner of the state in 2001. Other than the blizzards of early 2007, there has not been enough moisture to recharge the soil profile lost in the drought. “That lasted about six months, but there’s really been nothing since July 2007.”

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