By Chris Sorensen
The United States Department of Agriculture's National Drought Mitigation Center is reporting that drought conditions have expanded and strengthened across Colorado.
Just three months ago, less than 20 percent of the state was considered "abnormally dry" - the lowest drought category. Less than one-half percent was experiencing moderate drought.
With this week's report, over two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry, and nearly a quarter of the state, including a large portion of western Kiowa County, is in moderate drought.
Moderate drought expanded rapidly over the past week as unseasonably warm temperatures and largely rain-free conditions prevailed.
Only the northeast corner of Colorado is avoiding any level of drought, and all of Colorado's 64 counties have at least portion of their area impacted by drought conditions.
In southeast Colorado, all of Elbert, Lincoln and Crowley Counties are in moderate drought, as are large portions of Cheyenne, El Paso, Kit Carson, Otero and Pueblo Counties. In addition to Kiowa County, lesser portions of Baca, Bent, Huerfano, and Las Animas Counties are also in moderate drought. The remainder of the area is considered abnormally dry.
Some hope is in the forecast as a weakening upper low moves across Colorado Saturday. The best chances of rain are west of Interstate 25 and south of Highway 50.