CWCB: September 2014 Drought Update

Colorado Drought Monitor September 16, 2014
Colorado Drought Monitor September 16, 2014

From the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Taryn Finnessey/Tracy Kosloff):

Mild temperatures and above average precipitation has persisted across northern Colorado and portions of the eastern plains, bringing continued drought relief to some of drought stricken Colorado. Forecasts for the coming months indicate that further drought relief is likely in this region. The Rio Grande basin has received less precipitation and conditions there are being closely monitored. Along the Front Range, water providers indicated that storage levels are at, or near, record levels and demand is down.

  • Currently, 36% of the state is in some level of drought classification according to the US Drought Monitor. 11% is characterized as “abnormally dry” or D0, while an additional 10% is experiencing D1, moderate drought conditions. 13% is classified as severe, 3% as extreme and none of the state is in exceptional drought (D4).
  • Despite recent rains on the eastern plains, the Pueblo weather station is still running a deficit both for the water year and on a 4 year time frame. The 15.58 inch deficit over the last four years illustrates how difficult it can be to recover from persistent drought conditions. Walsh, further down the Arkansas basin, is experiencing a 17.56 inch deficit over the same 4 year period.
  • Year-to-date precipitation at mountain SNOTEL sites remains at 103% of average. July and August, both saw above average precipitation totals, 122 and 112% respectively, while September to-date is right at average. Storms have largely missed the area of extreme drought that remains near the intersection of Crowley, Kiowa, Otero and Bent counties.
  • Reservoir Storage statewide is at 100% of average at the end of August 2014, 28% ahead of where we were for storage this time last year. The lowest reservoir storage statewide continues to be the Upper Rio Grande, with 61% of average storage. The South Platte has the highest storage level at 138% of average. In general, storage is stronger in the northern basins than in the southern river basins.
  • The Surface Water Supply Index (SWSI) for the state is near normal across much of the state, with an “abundant” index in a few northern basins of the South Platte, North Platte, Yampa/White, and Colorado. The lowest values in the state are in the Southwest and Rio Grande reflect very low reservoir and streamflow levels. This area of the state has not received the same moisture as the rest of the state.
  • A weak El Nino is expected to continue as a weak-to-moderate event into early next year. Such an event
    may bring wetter than average conditions to the eastern plains for late winter into early spring. Drier
    conditions may develop in northwestern Colorado and the Colorado River basin.
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