#Drought news: Recent storm drops heavy snowfall in the San Juan mountains

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

Summary

During the past week, large precipitation events affected the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, southern Plains, Midwest, Ohio Valley, Tennessee River Valley, and mid-Atlantic, alleviating drought conditions or preventing further degradations in these areas. An active storm track in the coming week is expected to bring additional precipitation in the central and southern United States, which may result in further drought reductions. Conditions degraded in some areas of the Desert Southwest and Intermountain West that missed out on the heavier precipitation, most notably the Sierra Nevada and the Four Corners…

High Plains

Several areas of precipitation fell in Wyoming (ranging from .25 inch to localized 2+ inches); the heaviest precipitation areas were in the Yellowstone/Teton high country and in the Snowy Range. No changes were made in Wyoming, as the snow in the Snowy Range prevented further degradation there. Precipitation between .50 inch and 1 inch took place in the Dakotas, so no changes were made here, except for an expansion of abnormal dryness along the US 14 corridor in east-central South Dakota where seasonal precipitation deficits persisted. Rains from the aforementioned Midwest storm systems clipped southeast and parts of south-central Kansas with .25 inch to 1.5 inches of precipitation. A small area of .25-.50 inch of precipitation also fell in northwest Kansas. Moderate drought expanded into northeast Kansas because of persistent short- to medium-term seasonal precipitation deficits and abnormally warm temperatures in the last month…

West

A storm system moving through the southwest United States led to moderate or heavy precipitation in parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, with the heaviest Colorado precipitation taking place in the San Juan Mountains. Abnormally dry conditions in south-central New Mexico improved. However, the heavier precipitation missed the Four Corners region, worsening the long-term precipitation deficits. Most of California and Nevada also remained dry this week. Above-normal temperatures over the last few months, combined with precipitation deficits over most of the Southwest, led to the continuation of drought in much of the Southwest region. Moderate drought expanded through parts of the Sierra Nevada, where very low snowfall, short- and seasonal-range precipitation deficits, and warm temperatures so far this winter continued. Some ski areas have even closed because of the lack of snowfall. Abnormally dry conditions expanded through the rest of the Central Valley in California, where precipitation deficits over the water year and streamflow continued to degrade. Moderate drought expanded over south-central Oregon, where short-term and water year precipitation deficits intensified…

Looking Ahead

An active stormy pattern looks to continue in the central and eastern United States as we progress into next week. As a front continues to settle over the central, south-central, and eastern United States, expect moderate to heavy precipitation to continue in these areas late this week. A new storm system this weekend may deliver some rain and snow to parts of the central Plains, Midwest, Great Lakes, and mid-South. Mainly dry conditions are forecasted to persist in Florida, the Carolinas, and most of the low elevation areas of Nevada and California. Some precipitation approaching an inch is possible in the Sierra Nevada. Generally, temperatures in the western United States should fall below normal, while temperatures in the eastern United States will likely be warmer than normal. More variable temperatures are anticipated in the central United States.

From The Prowers Journal (Russ Baldwin):

…Moderate to Severe Drought continues across Southern Colorado…

Weather conditions through-out January of 2018 played a similar tune to the last few months of 2017; namely warm and dry across most of South Central and Southeast Colorado. A few weather systems brought some precipitation to the area, favoring northern portions of the state, with well below normal precipitation experienced across southern portions of Colorado for the month as a whole. A pattern change through early February has brought some much needed precipitation to portions of Southern Colorado, however, precipitation totals remain well below normal for the 2018 Water Year, thus far.

With that said, the latest US Drought Monitor, issued Thursday February 15th, 2018 continues to indicate severe drought (D2) conditions across Mineral, Rio Grande, Conejos, Alamosa, and Costilla Counties. Severe (D2) drought conditions are also depicted across the southern 2/3rds of Saguache County, southwestern portions of Custer County, western Huerfano County, western and southeastern portions of Las Animas County, most of Baca County and southeastern portions of Prowers County.

Moderate drought (D1) conditions are indicated across most of the rest of south central and southeast Colorado including the rest of Saugache, Custer, Huerfano, Las Animas, Baca and Prowers Counties.

Moderate (D1) drought conditions are also depicted across western portions of Chaffee County and eastern portions of Fremont County, as well as all of Teller, El Paso, Pueblo, Crowley, Otero, Kiowa, and Bent Counties.

Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions are depicted across western portions of Fremont County and eastern portions of Chaffee County, as well as Lake County.

DROUGHT IMPACTS…

FIRE DANGER…

Warm and dry conditions across the region over the past several months, combined with abundant cured fuels, has allowed for moderate to high fire danger to develop and persist across much of South

Central and Southeast Colorado. A pattern change in early February brought some snow cover and a brief respite to the high fire danger across southeastern Colorado into the middle of the month. However, warm and windy weather will allow for a return of dry fuels and high fire danger to the area.

AGRICULTURAL…

The very warm and dry late Fall and early Winter has helped to dry out soil moisture across south central and southeast Colorado. This in turn, has damaged winter wheat crops across southern Colorado.

HYDROLOGIC…

The February 1st statewide snowpack came in at only 59 percent of median, and is only 39 percent of the available snowpack at this same time last year. There continues to a strong gradient in snowpack conditions, which deteriorates from north to south across the state. Some beneficial snow has fallen across the Southern Mountains into mid-February; however, snowpack remains well below average with 2/3rds of mountain snow accumulation season already passed.

In the Arkansas Basin, February 1st snowpack came in at 55 percent of median, and is only 35 percent of the available snowpack at this same time last year. As with the state as a whole, there remain big differences in the distribution of said snowpack, with the northern portions of the Arkansas Basin coming in at 75 percent of normal, while the southern portions of the basin are running between 20 and 25 percent of normal.

In the Rio Grande Basin, February 1st snowpack came in at only 31 percent of median, and is only 21 percent of last year’s snowpack at this same time.

Water storage across the state at the end of January remained at 115 percent of average overall, as compared to 106 percent of average storage available at this same time last year.

In the Arkansas Basin, end of January storage was at 140 percent of average overall, as compared to 99 percent of average storage available at this same time last year. Reservoir storage in the Arkansas Basin remains the highest in the state.

In the Rio Grande Basin, end of January storage remained at 123 percent of average overall, as compared to 89 percent of average storage available at this same time last year.

With 2/3rd of the normal accumulating season in the books, current streamflow forecasts for the Spring and Summer are projected to be below average statewide. Near average to below average flows area projected across northern portions of the state, with below to well below average flows across the southern half of the state.

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