#Drought news: D1 (Abnormally Dry) in Park and Mesa counties

From The Fort Morgan Times (Jeff Rice):

Weather forecasters believe El Nino activity could result in a cooler, moister summer than is normal, and state officials have officially declared the 2016-2017 drought over. The Colorado Department of Natural Resources issued a statement earlier this week saying that recent moisture “have resulted in widespread elimination of drought conditions ….”

“(A)bnormally dry conditions are present in Mesa and Park counties and will continue to be monitored,” the statement said. “Water providers have no immediate concerns and expect reservoirs to fill.”

That matches the U.S. Drought Monitor, a collaboration of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration…

That is a dramatic change from three months ago when eastern Colorado was in the grip of one of the worst droughts in recent memory. Wildfire destroyed thousands of acres of crop and rangeland, hundreds of head of livestock, and four homes in Phillips and Logan counties. It looked to be a long, hot summer. Wide swaths of eastern Colorado were parched. While Logan and Phillips counties smoldered, the Denver Post was reporting that drought conditions were worsening over the eastern third of the state. By late March the drought had spread to the entire I-25 corridor, and fire departments there were dispatching SCAT trucks with almost every call, just in case…

Chris Fenimore, an environmental scientist at USDM, said cooler temperatures have slowed down snowmelt in the high country, especially in the Colorado and Yampa River basins. For eastern Colorado basins, Fenimore said, snowpack remains…high for this time of year, and abnormal amounts of moisture in May have helped to end drought conditions here.

“The small pocket of abnormal dryness in central Colorado is reflective of drier-than-normal areas of vegetation and soils,” Fenimore said.

Climatologists caution, however, that the reprieve is temporary. Mother Earth remains in the grip of gradual warming, and in eastern Colorado that translates to less water being available as time goes on.