Recent storms continue to improve drought

Weather

The Drought Monitor continues to show improvements thanks to our recent spring storms. The changes have been notable since January 5, 2021 when over 75% of the state was experiencing Extreme Drought or higher. 27% of the state was experiencing Exceptional Drought, the highest level on the Drought Monitor.

Watch drought conditions decrease from January 5, 2021 to March 23, 2021

As of the latest update we have seen huge improvements since then. Exceptional Drought levels have dropped to 15%, mainly over the Western Slopes, and about 8% of the state is now considered “Drought Free.” However, these drought free areas are still categorized as Abnormally Dry, meaning that they are at risk of falling back into drought if our pattern dries back out.

Locally, we have seen huge improvements in the last 3 weeks. From March 9 to March 23 our levels of Extreme drought on the east side of the Rockies have all but completely disappeared. We have a few small areas in the E Plains and CO/NM border. Use the slider tool below to compare March 9, on the left, to March 23, on the right.

March has been a good month to S Colorado in terms of drought relief and plentiful moisture. Spring is typically our snowiest season but March, marking the start of Meteorological Spring, has offered more than average amounts of rain and snow. Most of S Colorado is above average on moisture but the Eastern Plains have seen numbers well above average this month helping the area to drop their drought levels so significantly.

March Total Moisture (rain and snow water equivalent) Average March Moisture
Colorado Springs1.4″.75″
Pueblo.73″.69″
La Junta.82″.58″
Lamar2.01″.66″
Springfield1.33″.81″
Trinidad1.24″.67

Will the relief continue? All signs point to yes… but it will start to slow down. We’re in our snowiest season right now. Heavy, wet snows along and W of I-25 and rains in the E Plains are normal this time of year and these recent rain/snow events have exceeded that. Our pattern does not necessarily suggest that well above average moisture will continue, but average moisture is likely to persist. That means that, yes, drought conditions will likely keep improving but we should expect to see that rate of improvement slow or even stall if we see a few drier weeks. We’ve exited La Nina, which kept us so dry through the winter, and returned to a “Neutral” pattern. A neutral pattern means that their is no huge influence one way or another toward drier or wetter than normal conditions.

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