CWCB: The September drought update is hot off the presses #COdrought

US Drought Monitor September 24, 2013
US Drought Monitor September 24, 2013

Click here to read the update. Here’s an excerpt:

Extraordinary precipitation along the Front Range of the state in early September has eliminated drought conditions in some areas. However, not all of the state received drenching rains and drought still remains in some regions. While flooding was still severe, water providers were able to capture significant amounts of water in reservoirs during the event which will likely increase overall statewide storage levels. Water providers are also reporting reduced demands, which will further maintain storage going into the winter months.

  • Exceptional precipitation events in Early September coupled with a persistent monsoon season has resulted in significant improvements to drought conditions throughout the state. Currently, 84% of the state is in some level of classification on the US drought monitor. 20% is currently characterized as “abnormally dry” while the majority of the state (67%) is in a D1 or moderate drought conditions. An additional 13% is severe, 2.5% is extreme and only 1.47% of the state remains in exceptional drought.
  • A late month heat wave in August brought temperatures for the month above average, a trend that has continued into the first half of September, with some areas seeing temperatures 8-10 degrees above average.
  • August precipitation was above average statewide at 111% of normal, while September to-date has been incredibly wet at 283% of normal statewide. This ranges from a low of 150% of average in the Gunnison to an extraordinary 536% of average in the South Platte. With these record breaking rains, some areas of Colorado have gone from well below average to near and above average for the water year, which ends September 30, 2013.
  • Reservoir storage as of September 1st remained below average, however it is likely that the recent rains will increase this value on the October 1st reporting date. There are reports of Halligan Reservoir in the South Platte rising 30 feet in roughly 36 hours during the most recent heavy rain event. Not only is this welcome for water providers, but also likely played a role in decreasing flows downstream of the reservoir in the City of Fort Collins. Many providers were able to store substantial amounts of water during this event, still other reported infrastructure breaches.
  • The Climate Prediction Center drought outlook released September 19, 2013 and valid for September 19 December 31, 2013 illustrates persistent drought across most of Colorado with the exception of the Front Range and a portion of the eastern plains where drought conditions have been largely eliminated. Temperatures are also forecasted to remain above average through October.
  • ENSO conditions remain neutral. However, the preliminary snowpack forecast for January 1st indicates the chance of early season snow in the mountains as above average and is better than in the previous two years.
  • The exceptions being in the Yampa and Rio Grande Basins which both show a slightly lower than average forecast.

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