From The Denver Post (Chris Bianchi):
Only a few months removed from a rare and mostly drought-less summer, more than a quarter of Colorado (27.5%) is officially in a drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor’s weekly update, released on Thursday. In addition to the drought conditions, about 70% of the state is now also considered to be “abnormally dry”, as a recent summer dry spell continues. Abnormally dry conditions are the step just below an official drought.
In Denver, August, September and October (so far) have each seen below average precipitation. Since Aug. 1, Denver’s total rainfall of just 1.08 inches is less than half of the average 2.19 inches for that time period. Similar numbers were observed throughout the Front Range, as a dominating ridge of high pressure suppressed and reduced rain chances, and boosted September temperatures. A lackluster monsoon season is also contributing to the growing drought.
It’s also the lack of a monsoon season that has mainly Southern Colorado feeling the greatest pinch of drought. And it’s not just Colorado; drought conditions are worse in neighboring New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Pockets of severe drought are now in place in parts of Arizona and New Mexico, based on this week’s drought monitor update.
In southwestern Colorado, precipitation deficits are greater here than those along the Front Range and the rest of the state. Since Sept. 1, Cortez, Grand Junction, Montrose and Aspen have all received less than a quarter of their typical precipitation for that time period.
From The Prowers Journal (Russ Baldwin):
The State of Colorado began its 2019-2020 study of our drought situation this past Tuesday, October 1st noting that nearly 70% of Colorado is in the lowest level of drought classification, D-0 or ‘abnormally dry’. This classification registers for 596,000 residents in the state or 12% and covers 42.4% of Colorado. The only other classification now indicated, D-1, or ‘moderate drought’ impacts 2,712,000 residents and makes up 54% of the state’s population and covers 27.5% of the state.
South central and southwestern Colorado have moved into the D1 moderate level and is where the drought can be most severe.
The D-0 or abnormally dry classification describes short-term dryness slowing planting and growth of crops, shows some lingering water deficits and pastures or crops are not fully recovered. The D-1 or moderate drought classification describes conditions showing some damage to crops and pastures, some water shortages are developing and voluntary water-use restrictions are requested.