Thu July 5, 2012

CO Drought Monitor Map Shows Extreme Drought Conditions

The new map shows severe to exceptionally severe drought conditions across the entire state.  While this may not be the worst season on record, the state’s climatologist says it’s very close.

The most severe drought conditions are in portions of Moffat and Routt County in Northwestern Colorado as well as Crowley County in the Southeastern part of the state. The exceptional drought conditions in those counties are typically seen, on average, once every 50 years.

Nolan Doesken, the state’s climatologist, says the last time similar widespread drought conditions were seen across Colorado was in 1934 and 1954.

“It’s not unlike things we’ve seen in the past, but it is right out there in the category I would call as bad as it gets in terms of what we have seen in the past with the combination of temperatures and dryness.”

Film of Colorado drought conditions in the 1950's.

More recently for Weld and Larimer counties, Doesken points out this year has been very similar to 2006 which was also very hot and very dry. 

"The whole state wasn’t in such bad shape, but it was very much an issue for north central counties of the state that year. There are some years that are similar, but this year is pushing the envelope for how hot and dry we’ve gotten."

Doesken says forecasts of wetter weather moving into Colorado could actually be a blessing in disguise.  

“Just three days of soaking rains, although some may be a little bit too heavy, will make a big difference. And right now, as we look at the weather pattern for the next few days, this is as optimistic a weather pattern as we’ve seen in a long time.”

If heavy rain moves across areas scorched by wildfires, Doesken says runoff could create flash floods of ash, debris and mud.