(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Spring rain has put a significant dent in drought conditions, helping to chip away at the worst of drought across eastern Colorado.
The amount of Colorado that is completely drought-free has climbed from 42% to 55% during the last week.
Our storm on May 11 brought impressive rain to many Southern Colorado spots. Daily rain totals topped out over 3″ in Colorado Springs, making it the wettest May day on record.
Click to see which southern Colorado spots have seen the biggest improvement since early March thanks to spring moisture.
El Paso and Pueblo Counties have seen big changes, from being under moderate to severe drought to the lowest drought category as of May 18.
Far northern Pikes Peak Region areas, Denver, and parts of the central plains are now out of drought entirely.
In Denver, 4.40″ of rain fell from May 10-12. In just three days, Denver saw more than 30% of their normal annual precipitation.
Most of the Front Range, mountain valleys, and southern plains have chipped away at drought and dropped out of severe categories.
The southeastern corner of Colorado is the only spot that didn’t get significant rain and has not seen improvement. The SE plains over Springfield, Campo, and Comanche National Grassland are sitting under the worst drought conditions.
This is the only part of the state under severe and extreme drought as of May 18.
Watch in the below timelapse how this area has struggled to break out of drought over the last few months. From March to May, there has been little to no improvement for this part of the state.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported double-digit improvements in topsoil moisture in Colorado, climbing from 45% to 35% by May 14. The recent rain also helped to revive winter wheat and benefited emerging summer crops.
Looking at the NWS 30-day outlook through May, there’s a good chance for above-average precipitation across most of Colorado. The NE corner of the state will have the highest likelihood of more spring rain than normal.
So when we see these drought classifications, what exactly do they mean? Categories on the U.S. Drought Monitor range from Abnormally Dry (D0) to Exceptional Drought (D4).
The lowest drought category, D0, includes short-term dryness causing growing impacts to plants, crops, and pastures. Moderate Drought falls under D1, where streams and reservoirs start running low.
Severe Drought falls under D2, as water shortages and water restrictions increase. In this category, crop, and pasture loss is likely.
D3 and D4 are considered Extreme and Exceptional Drought, where we see exceptional loss to crops and pastures, along with water emergencies due to extremely low levels in reservoirs and streams.
The table below shows how drought is classified and what it means where you live.