From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Candace Krebs):
Nolan Doesken, the state climatologist for Colorado, offered an optimistic weather update to a largely upbeat crowd during the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum recently held in Pueblo.
“Everyone seems to have a fairly good attitude at this point,” he said later from his office in Fort Collins.
“Right now the prospects tend to look favorable for southeast Colorado.”
Following a promising fall and winter, early spring conditions deteriorated over a wide area this year, as warm, dry conditions settled in, testing the wheat crop as it came out of dormancy and diminishing the crucial supply of mountain snow needed for runoff going into the growing season.
“The mountain snowpack was near normal all winter for the Arkansas basin and then in March and the first half of April it started to really dissipate and melt early,” Doesken recounted. “But the Arkansas was still better off than other parts of the Rockies and the West at 87 percent of average, which is near the normal range. The bump we got last week put it back in that 80 to 90 percent of average range, and we’ll likely get another bump before the spring snow is over.”
“Out on the plains, the prospect for irrigation is looking good, and the Pueblo Reservoir has a lot of water in it,” he added.
The South Platte is in even better shape than the Arkansas, but the Rio Grande and Colorado tributaries are much worse, suffering from snow shortages in the high country and the extreme drought plaguing the entire Southwest, he said.
As for the Eastern Plains, he described them as “distinctly better than they were a year or two ago, but there still has not been enough rain in most places to build deeper soil moisture.”
Southeastern Colorado is recuperating from its driest 42-month stretch ever recorded since recordkeeping began in the late 1800s, he pointed out. “The grasses have started to come back and not as much bare ground is showing, but it’s still a slow process,” he said.
More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.