From The Colorado Sun (Olivia Prentzel):
At least 54% of the state now is experiencing drought conditions, compared to 100% this time last year. But record-breaking heat and a dry winter could mean conditions worsen, a climatologist says.
As drought loosened its grip across nearly half Colorado in the past year, parts of Colorado could see conditions worsen in the coming months due to an autumn and winter that experts say will be hotter and drier than normal.
About 52% of the state’s geographic area now faces some type of drought — ranging from abnormally dry to exceptional drought. This time last year, the entire state was plagued by the lack of rain, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. While the drought was somewhat eased by the summer monsoon season, already punishing drought conditions have begun to worsen, with the most severe impacts hitting the Western Slope.
Record-breaking heat coupled with a dry winter forecast could mean that drought in Colorado will likely get worse in the coming months, according to Peter Goble, a climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University.
“The outlook is not encouraging,” Goble said. “It looks like summer is going to hang on here for a little while and as we look forward to winter, (we’re) looking at a high probability of another La Nina year,” he said, the second La Nina winter in a row…
“In recent history, those double-dip La Nina years — or years we have it come back a second time — have been quite dry across the center of the country and only really wet in the northwest and northeast corners,” Goble said. “If that pattern were to resurface, we could see drought conditions worsen over the next three to nine months.”
Colorado also saw its fourth warmest June through August period on record, Goble said…
Now, about 15% of the state is seeing conditions of the severity recorded last September, maps show.
Despite the decrease, Goble said he’s still concerned about the state’s current drought conditions and for what’s to come.
“The biggest thing that concerns me is, as good as the precipitation was in western Colorado over the summer, we didn’t see that big of a recovery to the overall water supply system or our lakes, streams and reservoirs,” he said…
In the east, worsening drought conditions also raise concerns regarding the winter wheat planting season. Without a layer of moisture in the top level of soil, it becomes harder for seeds to stay put and can affect how much grows, he said.