Historic Rainfall Brings More Relief in the Drought #COdrought #COflood

US Drought Monitor Colorado Map September 19, 2013
US Drought Monitor Colorado Map September 19, 2013

From the National Weather Service Pueblo Office:

AFTER A VERY WARM AND DRY START TO SEPTEMBER…A WEATHER SYSTEM
MOVED INTO THE GREAT BASIN REGION BRINGING A PROLONGED PERIOD OF MOIST SOUTHERLY FLOW ALOFT TO THE STATE FROM 9TH THROUGH THE 15TH OF SEPTEMBER. THIS MOIST SOUTHERLY FLOW…COMBINED WITH MOIST LOW LEVEL UPSLOPE FLOW BEHIND PASSING COLD FRONTS ACROSS EASTERN COLORADO…BROUGHT EXTREME RAINFALL AND FLOODING TO COLORADO…ESPECIALLY ACROSS THE FRONT RANGE…SEPTEMBER 10TH THROUGH THE 13TH. WIDESPREAD RAINFALL OF 2 TO 6 INCHES WAS RECORDED ACROSS THE SOUTHWEST…CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST MOUNTAINS…AS WELL AS SOUTHEASTERN BACA COUNTY. WIDESPREAD RAINFALL OF 3 TO 8 INCHES WAS RECEIVED ACROSS THE PIKES PEAK REGION…ALONG WITH POCKETS OF 10 TO 14 INCHES OF RAIN OVER THE FOOTHILLS OF WESTERN EL PASO COUNTY. WIDESPREAD RAINFALL OF 1 TO 3 INCHES WAS ALSO RECORDED ACROSS MOST OF THE REST OF SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST COLORADO…WITH LESSER AMOUNTS ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE LOWER ARKANSAS RIVER VALLEY. UNFORTUNATELY…THIS EXTREME RAINFALL ALSO CAUSED DEADLY AND DESTRUCTIVE FLOODING ACROSS PORTIONS OF THE AREA.

WITH THIS IN MIND…THE LATEST US DROUGHT MONITOR INDICATES AN END TO THE DROUGHT ACROSS WESTERN AND NORTHERN PORTIONS OF EL PASO COUNTY…EASTERN TELLER COUNTY…EASTERN FREMONT COUNTY…EXTREME NORTHWESTERN PUEBLO COUNTY AND LAKE COUNTY.

ABNORMALLY DRY (D0) CONDITIONS ARE NOW DEPICTED ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL THROUGH NORTHEASTERN EL PASO COUNTY…NORTHWESTERN PUEBLO COUNTY…MOST OF CUSTER COUNTY…SOUTHWESTERN HUERFANO COUNTY…WESTERN LAS ANIMAS COUNTY AND EXTREME EASTERN COSTILLA COUNTY. ABNORMALLY DRY (D0) CONDITIONS ARE ALSO INDICATED ACROSS THE REST OF TELLER AND FREMONT COUNTIES…AS WELL AS MOST OF CHAFFEE COUNTY AND NORTHEASTERN SAGUACHE COUNTY.

MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) CONDITIONS ARE NOW INDICATED ACROSS MOST OF SOUTHEASTERN EL PASO COUNTY…CENTRAL AND SOUTHWESTERN PORTIONS OF PUEBLO COUNTY…THE REST OF HUERFANO COUNTY…CENTRAL LAS ANIMAS COUNTY AND MOST OF BACA COUNTY. MODERATE DROUGHT (D1) CONDITIONS ARE ALSO DEPICTED ACROSS WEST CENTRAL CHAFFEE COUNTY…THE REST OF SAGUACHE COUNTY…THE REST OF COSTILLA COUNTY…AS WELL AS ALL OF ALAMOSA…RIO GRANDE…CONEJOS AND MINERAL COUNTIES.

SEVERE DROUGHT (D2) CONDITIONS ARE NOW INDICATED ACROSS EXTREME SOUTHEASTERN EL PASO COUNTY…EASTERN AND SOUTH CENTRAL PORTIONS OF PUEBLO COUNTY…THE REST OF LAS ANIMAS COUNTY…NORTHWESTERN BACA COUNTY…EASTERN BENT COUNTY…PROWERS COUNTY AND EASTERN KIOWA COUNTY.

EXTREME DROUGHT (D3) CONDITIONS ARE NOW INDICATED MOST OF CROWLEY COUNTY…WESTERN OTERO COUNTY…WESTERN BENT COUNTY AND WESTERN AND CENTRAL PORTIONS OF KIOWA COUNTY.

EXCEPTIONAL (D4) DROUGHT CONDITIONS ARE NOW LIMITED TO SOUTHEASTERN CROWLEY COUNTY…EASTERN OTERO COUNTY…SOUTHWESTERN KIOWA COUNTY AND EXTREME WESTERN PORTIONS OF BENT COUNTY.

MORE INFORMATION ON THE US DROUGHT MONITOR CLASSIFICATION SCHEME CAN BE FOUND AT: WWW.DROUGHTMONITOR.UNL.EDU/CLASSIFY.HTM

SUMMARY OF IMPACTS…UPDATED

THE BENEFICIAL MONSOONAL RAINS OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS HAVE PROVIDED RELIEF IN THE DROUGHT TO MUCH OF THE AREA…INCLUDING IMPROVEMENT IN CROPS AND VEGETATION…DECREASED FIRE DANGER AND THE LIFTING OR EASING OF WATER RESTRICTIONS.

THE SUMMER MONSOON…HOWEVER…HAS ALSO CREATED ITS OWN IMPACT WITH INCREASED FLASH FLOODING DANGERS…ESPECIALLY FOR AREAS IN AND AROUND RECENT BURN SCARS. SEVERAL DESTRUCTIVE FLASH FLOODS HAVE BEEN RECORDED SINCE JULY 1ST…ESPECIALLY ACROSS TELLER AND EL PASO COUNTIES…DUE TO THE LOSS OF VEGETATION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF HYDROPHOBIC SOILS CAUSED BY THE RECENT WILDFIRES.

From KUNC (Luke Runyon):

Rain totals have been tallied. But [Nolan Doesken] says a full picture of the flooding won’t be available for some time, making it difficult to compare the storm to other flash flooding events in Colorado. During this storm, rivers flowed with such intensity that stream gauges were damaged or destroyed.

Some of those other flooding events came after dry spells, Doesken said, and returned to drought not too long after.

“The lesson is, we don’t know what’s going to happen next. And there’s no guarantee that we’re out of the drought woods,” said Doesken.

The Front Range was drenched. The Western Slope wasn’t. Neither was the southeastern corner, a pocket of which is still categorized as being in extreme or exceptional drought.

“There’s now this concern that maybe we’re going to see more big rains and more flooding, but the reality is, that weather events happen and then we revert back to our regular seasonal cycles. With plenty of meteorological ups and down to go with it,” Doesken said.

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