(COLORADO SPRINGS) — It’s a rare sight in Colorado during the summer: the entire state is completely drought-free.
This is the first time since July 2019 that Colorado is all clear of drought.
It’s a stark contrast from one year ago when most of the state was in drought. Check out this comparison between July 7 of 2023 and 2022.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released July 6, now has Baca County and Prowers County completely drought-free.
Even looking back one month ago, there has been improvement across southern Colorado where drought lingered from the Front Range to the SE Plains.
Recent record rain in Colorado has brought a lot of relief to the eastern half of the state, where there has been some level of drought in place since last summer.
Colorado Springs has already received more rain than we typically get in a year. 17.65″ of rain has fallen in the city from January to the first week of July. Our average rain by this time of year is usually only around 7″.
Looking back at Colorado’s drought history over the last 22 years highlights just how rare it is for the state to be completely drought-free.
The U.S. Drought Monitor chart shows drought levels in Colorado from 2000-2023. Dark reds show the most extreme drought conditions, with white highlighting drought-free areas.
There have only been short spans where the state has been clear of drought in the last 22 years.
Years where we have been drought-free are 2000, 2001, 2009, 2015, and 2019. And even in those cases, it didn’t last long before dry conditions returned to the state.
Click here to dive deeper into Colorado’s drought history since 2000.
Things are looking promising for more rain, especially across eastern Colorado, through July. Outlooks for the month call for above-average rain for eastern parts of the state, stretching south to Texas and to NE parts of the country.
The severity of drought conditions is determined by several factors including how much moisture is in the soil, reservoir levels, streamflow, precipitation, and temperature.
This table shows how drought is classified and breaks down what each category means.
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.