#Drought expands further on #Colorado’s eastern plains — The Kiowa County Press

From The Kiowa County Press (Chris Sorensen):

Moderate and severe drought advanced northward on the plains of eastern Colorado this week according to the latest update from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

While extreme drought – the second worst category – remained steady across most of southern and southeast Colorado, severe conditions advanced in Washington and Yuma counties. Moderate drought expanded to cover the remainder of Yuma County, along with an additional area in Washington County that had been abnormally dry. Moderate conditions also entered southeast Logan and most of Phillips counties. Abnormally dry conditions now cover most of Logan County, the remainder of Phillips County, and all of Sedgwick County.

Colorado Drought Monitor June 23, 2020.

Above-normal temperatures, strong wind and little rain have contributed to rapid drought expansion in Colorado over the past month. Soil moisture continues to decline, contributing to cattle sales by ranchers as pasture conditions deteriorate, and yield concerns about wheat crops as harvest season gets underway. Southeast counties, where harvest has begun, are seeing low test weights.

Nick Palmer at Golden Plains Insurance Agency in Lamar stated Thursday that, “generally, field conditions are fair to poor, with very small pockets of fair to good – mostly caused by isolated thunderstorm events.”

Governor Jared Polis activated Colorado’s Drought Task Force and Phase 2 of the State Drought Mitigation and Response Plan this week as drought conditions deepen. All or portions of 40 of the states 64 counties are experiencing severe or extreme drought. Phase 2 activates the Agricultural Impact Task Force, which will conduct an initial assessment on physical and economic impacts and recommend opportunities for mitigation.

The seasonal drought outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows drought increasing through September. Portions of central and northwest Colorado that are currently drought-free or abnormally dry are expected to fall to at least moderate drought over the coming months. The precipitation outlook for July across much of that area shows a 33-40 percent chance of below-normal precipitation. Most of Colorado has a 50-60 percent chance of above-normal temperatures during the coming month.

Overall, 33 percent of Colorado is in extreme drought, unchanged from the prior week. Severe and moderate conditions both increased one percent to 23 and 12 percent, respectively. Abnormally dry areas decreased one percent to 15 as they were overtaken by more severe conditions. Only 17 percent of the state is drought-free, down one percent from the previous week.

West Drought Monitor June 23, 2020.

From The DenverChannel.com (Blair Miller):

The [drought] task force will have to measure what damage drought has caused in areas experiencing severe or extreme drought and recommend to counties how to mitigate the effects of the drought.

An Agricultural Impact Task Force will also be activated to assess physical and economic impacts of the drought, the Colorado Water Conservation Board said. Polis’ request task force chairpersons and members will be provided by the Colorado Water Center at CSU…

Drought has gradually crept back into Colorado over the past year. Last year, there were 14 straight weeks of drought-free conditions in Colorado, a streak that ended in August.

In early May, 76% of Colorado was experiencing at least “abnormally dry” conditions. Sixty-two percent of the state is experiencing moderate drought, while 41% is under severe drought conditions and 11% is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

But as of last, week 81% of the state was abnormally dry, 65% was experiencing moderate drought, 55% was experiencing severe drought and 33% of Colorado was experiencing extreme drought conditions, according to the Drought Monitor.

The NRCS also presented a snow survey and water supply forecast Tuesday showing that while snowpack peaked over the median this year, precipitation in the mountains was below average April-May. Reservoir storage remains average, but is far below normal in the Rio Grande Basin and is below normal in southern Colorado. Streamflows have also dropped sharply in the northern mountains because of a dry fall and spring, NRCS said.

Colorado last activated the Drought Mitigation and Response Plan in May 2018. At the meeting Tuesday, the Colorado Climate Center showed a presentation showing Colorado had its 8th-driest April on record and its 18th driest May since 1895. The presentation also showed above-average temperatures for much of the state in May and June.

The upcoming seasonal outlook for the next three months from NOAA also shows above-average temperatures and likely below-average rainfall for most of Colorado.

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