What Did All That Rain Really Mean For Colorado? — 5280.com

Upper Colorado River Basin May 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal
Upper Colorado River Basin May 2015 precipitation as a percent of normal

From 5280.com (Dahlia Singer):

That means Coloradans have a lot of reasons to celebrate. “Statewide, we’re in the best situation we’ve been in since 2011,” says Taryn Finnessey, a climate change risk management specialist with CWCB. “The rains really have not only alleviated drought conditions, but, in most portions of the state, they’ve eliminated them. And as far as reservoirs, we’re doing great. We’re better off than we were last year in all portions of the state.” Per the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado reservoir storage was at 117 percent of average at the end of July, the most recent info available; soil moisture is up, which typically makes farmers and ranchers do a happy dance; and cooler weather has also helped reduce demand on our water resources.

Of course, recent news that “this year’s El Niño weather pattern could be the most powerful on record” leaves just one question on the tip of Coloradans’ tongues: What’s that mean for the upcoming ski season? “An El Niño year does typically mean more moisture for Colorado,” Finnessey says, “But I don’t know that we have the information yet to determine whether or not that’s going to fall in the mountains or along the Front Range.”

Unfortunately, Klaus Wolter, a local climate scientist, says Colorado’s highest elevations typically don’t benefit from the system. “It’s the flip side of El Niño,” he says. But it’s not all bad news: “Typically what happens is you go through the winter and if you come out just slightly below normal, which is a very typical outcome, there is a good chance you might still play catch-up in the spring.

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