May showers bring hope to #water experts — The #Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Heather Willard):

May in Pueblo brought nearly five inches of rain to the county, marking the month as the third wettest May in the region’s history, and also colder than average.

Only May 2015, where 5.5 inches of rainfall was recorded, and May 1957, when 5.43 inches of rainfall was recorded, beat the nearly five inches of rainfall in May 2021.

On May 25th, most of the eastern plains and eastern mountainous region of Colorado have been declared drought-free, defying forecasts from earlier in the year that predicted low precipitation amounts throughout the spring, leading to further drought levels in the summer.

Colorado Drought Monitor map June 1, 2021.

In fact, drought levels west of the Continental Divide remain in extreme and exceptional levels, while east of the Divide has shifted the opposite direction. The shift is dramatic, as severe to extreme drought levels have persisted since August 2019…

Pueblo averages about 1.6 inches of rainfall in May, [Tony] Anderson explained, and the area received about 4.95 inches this May. The trend was similar across the region, with areas like Colorado Springs recording almost double rainfall amounts from the averages used by the National Weather Service.

Anderson called the drought clearing “remarkable,” but also expressed concerns that the area could still have a poor water year…

He also noted that reservoir levels are part of the bad news in this “good news/bad news year.” He said the Arkansas river reservoirs are on average about 80% full, and reservoirs in the Rio Grande are averaging about 67%. “So there’s a lot of storage to fill up going into next year,” he said…

Anderson explained that the split of drought and non-drought levels in Colorado resulted from storms rising from the east and dropping precipitation as it hit the mountains, instead of the standard Colorado weather pattern of storms approaching from the west.

Todd Ballard, an agronomy extension agent with Colorado State University who works in Sedgwick County, noted in a recent column that the above average rainfall could be a boon for the state’s eastern agricultural businesses.

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