From The Colorado Sun (Lauren Irwin):
Nearly 83% of Colorado is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and 33% is reporting extreme or severe drought, as of Tuesday, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported, up slightly from the week before.
A year ago, none of the state was experiencing drought conditions.
The driest conditions are in the southern plains and in southwest Colorado, where wind-driven wildfires are burning in four locations…
The Southwest Monsoon, which comes annually to Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado in July, brings moisture — and its trademark thunderstorms and flooding — from southern Mexico and is important to farmers and ranchers in the region. This year, the monsoon is expected to relieve dry conditions in the southern parts of Colorado and lower the risk of wildfires there.
“In seven to 10 days, we hope to be talking about the first moisture pulse coming out of the southwest,” he said. “The onset of the Southwest Monsoon is the first sign that fire and drought season will start moving north.”
The abnormally dry conditions also have implications for farmers and ranchers and so Gov. Jared Polis has activated the state Drought Task Force. The panel, made up of the departments of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Local Affairs, Public Safety and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will assess the potential damage to Colorado’s $8 billion agricultural economy.
From The Ag Info Network (Maura Bennett):
Governor Polis has issued an order to activate a state agricultural task force to determine potential crop and cattle damage from drought conditions. Drought is now impacting 40 state counties.
The task force is directed to study the impact and the possible economic fallout for the state’s $8 billion farming industry.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board (Water Availability) Task Force just highlighted the serious nature of the drought.
Becky Bolinger, a climatologist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center, told the meeting that when spring arrived the “spigot turned off and the heat turned on.”
Bolinger: Most areas of the state have been struggling with dry conditions ever since. Drought has extended in the last month and now 33% of the state is now in extreme drought conditions (D3). We have seen an ET event in June over the eastern plains kind of consistent with a flash drought, except we’re already in a drought so what it’s done is make that drought worse.
The U.S. Drought Monitor reported this week that extreme drought expanded in eastern Colorado and northern New Mexico. The National Resource Conservation Service also reported that reservoir levels are dwindling in southern and southwestern Colorado, including the agricultural San Luis Valley and the Gunnison River Basin.