The latest drought monitor update shows all of Colorado experiencing abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions. Last week a small area of Northern Colorado was in the clear, as of the latest update, now abnormally dry.
“In this case 2020 has been more of an agricultural drought” says Peter Bennett Goble, a drought expert at the Colorado Climate Center. “The proof is kind of in the pudding, I just pulled from the Colorado Wheat Administration Committee and as of mid July when most of the winter wheat is harvested, we were at 55% poor or very poor conditions and only 1% excellent.”
It’s not just the plains though, ALL of Colorado is drier than normal and some more than others. You might wonder how this could be when parts of Southern Colorado have seen so much rain.
“The Colorado Springs area was about normal for precipitation in July” says Goble, “it’s also our wet time of year so if you get normal conditions during a wet time of year it can seem very wet.”
Despite all of that rain we haven’t made up for the drought.
“Colorado springs is still only about 70% of normal and that’s actually one of the brighter spots in the state,” says Goble.
So the rain we’ve had has helped, but it’s not quite enough… and it’s not just rain that factors into the equation.
According to Goble, “it’s a bit of everything! We call it a convergence of evidence where we’re looking at numerous different indicators of drought and seeing sort of on average where they point.”
This means that lower levels on the drought monitor, specifically abnormally dry and moderate, might not impact the average person as much.
“For instance if you’re just somebody living on a normal small property in the Colorado Springs area not trying to do anything with the land this moderate drought may not be the biggest issue because reservoir storage is fairly good right now. But if you’re trying to feed cattle or grow crops even in Colorado Springs you may have experienced more stress than normal this year,” says Goble.
This year’s drought concerns are a stark contrast to last year around the same time when we were 100% drought free and being this dry is not the norm for us. The last time 100% of Colorado was covered by one of the Drought Monitor’s dry categories was back in 2013 and that lasted for over a year.
Gobel says the years have their similarities, “in 2012, much like 2020, we had an unusually dry spring then we had intense heat throughout much of the summer. More intense than what we’ve seen this year.” But he’s hopeful we’ll see a better outcome, “in some ways I’m optimistic that this wont be as bad a drought as 2012, but we’ll have to wait and see because we’re just in the middle of this one now”