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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Drought Persists Across Much Of The Mountain West


Parts of the Mountain West have been tangled up in long-term drought and it doesn’t look like it’s lifting anytime soon.

Nearly all of Utah and two-thirds of Colorado are in some form of drought, according to the latest numbers from the federal U.S. Drought Monitor.

David Simeral is a climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno. Simeral says hot temperatures increased evaporation reducing the amount of moisture that might have soaked into the ground from summer rains.

“We had a warm winter last year and temperatures were above normal in the summertime as well, so the soil columns were very dry,” Simeral says.

The National Weather Service’s three-month forecast shows a chance for above-average precipitation for Colorado and southern Utah. But Simeral says it’ll likely be warmer than normal as well.

“We’re looking at above normal temperatures across the winter in general,” he says.

About a quarter of Idaho is in some form of drought, while Wyoming is just starting to see dry conditions creep in.

Clarification: High temperatures helped evaporate some rain that fell in our region over the past year, but other factors, like low humidity, played a role, too.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

James Dawson joined Boise State Public Radio as the organization's News Director in 2017. He oversees the station's award-winning news department. Most recently, he covered state politics and government for Delaware Public Media since the station first began broadcasting in 2012 as the country's newest NPR affiliate. Those reports spanned two governors, three sessions of the Delaware General Assembly, and three consequential elections. His work has been featured on All Things Considered and NPR's newscast division. An Idaho native from north of the time zone bridge, James previously served as the public affairs reporter and interim news director for the commercial radio network Inland Northwest Broadcasting. His reporting experience included state and local government, arts and culture, crime, and agriculture. He's a proud University of Idaho graduate with a bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. When he's not in the office, you can find James fly fishing, buffing up on his photography or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.