From The Canon City Daily Record (Carie Canterbury):
Currently, Colorado is experiencing the third lowest snowpack on record, with only 2002 and 1981 being drier, according to CPW. Extreme drought has expanded to cover most of the southern half of Colorado, with the worst conditions being in the southwest corner.
The Water Availability Task Force reports that in order to respond to persistent and prolonged drought conditions throughout the southern half of the state and along the western border, the Governor activated the Colorado Drought Mitigation and Response Plan for the agricultural sector on May 2 in 33 counties that are experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought as classified by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Fremont County is not included in this list, but if present trends continue, other regions and sectors of the state’s economy may also be affected, the report indicates.
As of May 15, exceptional drought continues to affect southwest Colorado and has also been introduced in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, covering eight percent of the state. Extreme drought covers 23 percent of the state; severe drought 20 percent and 14 percent is classified as moderate drought, including most of Fremont County. An additional 14 percent of the state is currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions.
The May 2018 Drought Update issued by the WATF states that October 2017 through April 2018 was the fifth warmest and the fifth driest on record for the state as a whole. Some locations throughout southern Colorado have experienced their driest and/or warmest October-April period on record.
“Most regions of Southern Colorado reached their snow accumulation peak two to three weeks early and have experienced rapid snowmelt, resulting in melt out occurring three weeks earlier than normal,” the report states. “Streamflow forecasts in the southern half of the state are extremely low, with multiple sites showing below 15 percent of normal.”
Additionally, the report states that reservoir storage statewide is at 111 percent of normal, with all but the southwest basins above average. The Arkansas basin is reporting the highest average storage at 129 percent. Front Range water providers mainly draw water resources from areas of the state that received near normal winter precipitation, and are therefore expecting reservoirs to fill, and are not anticipating any water use restrictions outside normal operations.