Drought news: August was the driest month on record for Alamosa

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Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the August 30, 2011 U.S. Drought Monitor map.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

The average daily high temperature for June, July and August was 85.5 degrees, while the average daily temperature during those three months was 65.3 degrees. Technically, summer runs from June 21 to Sept. 23 this year, but the three months yearly hold the hottest days as September starts the gradual cool-down to fall…

This summer topped previous records for average daily high temperature set in 2002 and average daily temperature in 1980…

Normally one of the coldest spots in the state, Alamosa’s average daily high was still more than 8 degrees below Pueblo’s figure, which ranked as the Steel City’s third highest on record.

Meanwhile, Denver County also set a record for August. Here’s a report from Jordan Steffen writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

The average temperature in the metro area last month was 77 degrees, climbing above the previous record average of 76.8 degrees, set in 1937, according to the National Weather Service…Wednesday marked a record hot streak for the metro area, with 71 consecutive days above 80 degrees, shattering the previous record of 59 days set in 2002. Last month tied for the most days in the month of August with temperatures at or above 90 degrees with 22 days. The previous record was set in 1960 and 1995. Five record highs were matched or set in the month of August, including Wednesday’s record [ed. 98].

Even Steamboat, where the mountains set records for winter snowpack this season, experienced one of the driest Augusts on record, according to Tom Ross writing for Steamboat Today. From the article:

Local weather observer Art Judson recorded 0.68 inches of rain at his weather station between downtown and the ski mountain. That compares with the August average of 1.63 inches. August rainfall often is driven by a monsoonal pattern that pumps subtropical moisture into the Colorado Rockies through Arizona. While the monsoon hung on into August this year, it began earlier than usual in July and appeared to have spent itself before August arrived. July, typically the second driest month of the year in Steamboat, was quite the opposite this summer. Last month was the second wettest July on record for Steamboat, with 3.68 inches of rain…

Steamboat avoided an overnight frost in August, an event that is not uncommon. The average daily low was 46 degrees and the average daily high was 83.4 degrees. The coldest reading at Judson’s weather station was 41 degrees Aug. 8, and the warmest reading was 90 degrees Aug. 25.

Finally, the southern U.S. can’t catch a break. Record exceptional drought and the possibility of another La Niña season are worrying water suppliers across Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arizona. I’ve lost count of how many counties in Colorado have received a disaster declaration from the USDA. Here’s a report from Carey Gilliam writing for Reuters. From the article:

The drought is edging its way to the east even as it intensifies in the southern states, according to a weekly report released Thursday by a consortium of state and federal climatologists dubbed the U.S. Drought Monitor. “We are seeing intensification in the southeast, in particular Georgia, eastern Alabama,” said Svoboda.

The drought increasingly looks likely to extend into next year, he said…

Texas has been the hardest hit, and 2011 was expected to be the driest calendar year since records were first kept in the late 19th century. In that key agricultural state, levels of extreme and exceptional drought totaled 95.04 percent of area this week, up from 94.42 percent a week ago, the Drought Monitor reported…

Oklahoma was also suffering, with extreme an exceptional levels of drought now across 85.37 percent of the state. And nearly a third of Kansas is in extreme or exceptional drought, according to the Drought Monitor. Wheat farmers are questioning whether or not to even try to plant their new crop this autumn with soils lacking moisture the plants need to grow.

The drought was starting to engulf Louisiana, where extreme and exceptional drought grew to 59.50 percent of the state, up from 55.97 percent a week earlier.

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