Colorado drought-free for first time in 20 years

Local

It’s no secret Colorado has seen more rain and snow this year than last year, but this much moisture has turned the state from exceptional drought to 100-percent drought free. 

The two main factors that cause a drought are high temps and low amounts of precipitation.  

“It’s a major threshold that we’ve crossed,” said Tony Anderson, the Service Hydrologist at the National Weather Service. “This level of change is truly remarkable.” 

Last year, a majority of the state was in some kind of drought conditions. Now for the first time in 20 years, the entire state of Colorado is completely drought-free, according to the U.S. drought monitor. 

“It has been a pretty slow process, we had a long way to go, but it certainly did some work and we still have a lot of snow left up in the mountains,” said FOX21 Storm Team Meteorologist Emily Roehler.  

A drought-free status is good for wildfires and agriculture. Because we’ve had more precipitation and cooler days, the plants have taken less water from the ground, which means crop farmers like Shane Milberger can rest a little easier this year. 

“In a drought year, we have to manage it a little better and work a lot harder,” Milberger said. “We don’t share. Everybody uses all their water.” 

The Milbergers get their water from irrigation, but Milberger said his operation isn’t completely in the clear. 

“The runoff could all come down in two weeks, then it’s gone,” Milberger said. “Then we are back to very strict water conditions, and that’s what would be devastating to us.”

Just as quickly as it turned around this year, it can dry out again. 

“We do have to keep in mind its limited resource at all times,” Anderson said. “We shouldn’t get in the habit of being wasteful with our water.”

There are drawbacks of this, too. To get us out of that drought, more moisture had to fall, and with that could come flooding.  

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Anderson said. “We are not super concerned right now about flooding, but we are kind of expecting, it places where it has happened in the past.”

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