‘It’s [the current drought] right in there with some of Colorado’s worst droughts’ — Nolan Doesken #COdrought

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From KRDO (Rachel Plath):

“It’s right in there with some of Colorado’s worst droughts you have to give it credit for being bad. People aren’t just whining,” said Doesken.

Doesken said with respect to the wind, lack of rain, humidity levels, temperature and duration, Colorado has not seen a drought of this magnitude since the 1950s.

The drought has hit ranchers and farmers especially hard, but everyone who uses water should consider themselves affected by the drought.

The recent snowstorms have also helped to provide some relief. However, in order to eliminate the drought, Doesken said the state needs to see average monthly rainfall plus an additional 6 to 12 inches of water. In Colorado Springs, that’s equivalent to 39 to near 70,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In Pueblo, that’s equivalent of from 10 to near 17,000 pools.

Doesken said, it is not ideal to get this kind of relief all at once, but added that many of Colorado’s past droughts have ended abruptly because of major flooding. “At this time of year, going into summer, knowing that much of this region of the state’s precipitation falls in the form of intense summer showers, be on the lookout. This could be a flood year right in the middle of a drought,” said Doesken.

Drought forecasts do not look favorable for relief in the near future, but Doesken said due to the multiple factors that influence droughts, these long-term forecasts are not very reliable. “Quite honestly, you get to the middle of the summer and things end up being random convection and end up being the monsoon circulation, which is very difficult to anticipate in advance. So, there’s a lot of uncertainty here,” said Doesken…

“Eventually we’ll get out of the drought. It’s just a question of, will it be this summer? Will it be next? Will it be four years from now? We all hope it’s soon,” said Doesken.

From The Colorado Statesman (Ernest Luning):

When officials at the state’s largest water utility declared a Stage 2 Drought and put in place the harshest watering restrictions in over a decade at the beginning of April, they mentioned that another seven or so feet of snow might help — and that’s nearly what Mother Nature has delivered. There’s even time left for more fresh powder, though none was in the forecast at press time.

But don’t break out the champagne or crack open the sprinkler just yet. In the complex metrics that govern water availability in the high desert, a snowpack approaching historic averages isn’t enough to overcome what everyone agrees is the persistent and longstanding drought afflicting the region.

“We don’t have all of the answers yet. It’s still too early in the season,” said Denver Water’s Chris Piper, a government relations specialist, at a presentation to constituents of state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, on Tuesday.

Denver Water, which gets about half its water from the South Platte River Basin east of the Continental Divide and the other half from the Colorado River Basin on the Western Slope, has to consider more than simply snowpack when it determines the year’s water supply, Piper told the crowd of about 50 at the Washington Street Community Center in Denver.

“By the end of May,” Piper said, “we’ll be able to determine whether we’re going to have to stick with the plan and stay at Drought Stage 2, or whether things have gotten better enough we can do something different.”[…]

How is it, though, that unanticipated snowfall measured in feet hasn’t turned things around? For one thing, Piper said, while the South Platte and Colorado basins’ accumulated snow depth might be above historic averages, the measures for Denver’s watersheds — the portions of the basins where Denver Water draws its supply — are still lagging. As of this week, it stands at about 78 percent for the South Platte and 87 percent for the Colorado.

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