Drought-free area continues to expand in Colorado as conditions improve

Weather - Drought News Update Recap
Published Sunday, May 16, 2021
PICT - Kiowa County Press Icon
by Chris Sorensen

While extreme and exceptional drought continue to plague western Colorado, the northern mountains and eastern plains have seen substantial improvements in conditions over the past four weeks according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

2021-05-16_map_drought_change_between_april_13_and_may_11_2021_-_ndmc.png

MAP Drought change between April 13 and May 11, 2021 - NDMC
Drought change between April 13 and May 11, 2021 - NDMC

Recent rain and snow, including storms over the past week with significant moisture, contributed to drought reduction. Much of the northeast is now drought-free or abnormally dry. The greatest improvements are in central Jefferson, northwest Douglas and a small portion of southwest Arapahoe counties, where severe drought has been replaced by drought-free conditions over the past month. Surrounding areas have moved to moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions.

2021-05-15_map_colorado_drought_conditions_-_may_11_2021_-_national_drought_mitigation_center_0.png

MAP Colorado Drought Conditions - May 11, 2021 - National Drought Mitigation Center
Colorado Drought Conditions - May 11, 2021 - National Drought Mitigation Center

Further south, extreme drought across southern Las Animas and southwest Baca counties has largely moved to severe conditions. A portion of central Kiowa County, which was in exceptional drought at the start of the year and extreme conditions last week, has moved to severe drought. Most of the remaining area in the southeast has shifted to moderate drought, with potential for additional improvement following a series of storms Friday and Saturday which produced as much of four inches of rain in some areas. More storms are expected Sunday afternoon into the middle of the week.

2021-05-15_map_colorado_drought_conditions_-_may_4_2021_-_national_drought_mitigation_center.png

MAP Colorado Drought Conditions - May 4, 2021 - National Drought Mitigation Center
Colorado Drought Conditions - May 4, 2021 - National Drought Mitigation Center

Overall, 13 percent of the state is drought-free, up from eight percent last week, with an additional 12 percent in abnormally dry conditions, unchanged from the previous week. Moderate drought covered 32 percent of Colorado, up from 28 percent, while severe drought dropped from 21 to 14 percent. Extreme drought also fell, dropping to points to 13 percent. Exceptional conditions are unchanged at 16 percent.

Just under 1.7 million people in Colorado are in drought-impacted areas, down from 4.6 million one month ago.

One year ago, 21 percent of the state was drought-free, with an additional 17 percent experiencing abnormally dry conditions. Moderate drought was impacting another 17 percent of the state, with 31 percent in severe drought and 15 percent in extreme conditions. Totals do not equal 100 due to rounding.

Early in the summer of 2019, the state was in an eight-week span of drought-free conditions - the first time Colorado had been clear from all levels of drought and abnormally dry conditions since records became available starting in 2000. In late May of that year, the state's snow water equivalent stood at 437 percent of normal following a series of storms that brought abundant moisture across Colorado's river basins. As much as 77 percent of the state has fallen into the extreme and exceptional categories within the past year.

Colorado Drought by the Numbers

Week

Date

None

D0

D1

D2

D3

D4

Current

5/11/21

13

12

32

14

13

16

Last Week

5/4/21

8

12

28

21

15

16

3 Months Ago

2/9/21

0

0

10

20

45

25

Start of Calendar Year

12/29/20

0

0

6

18

49

28

Start of Water Year

9/29/20

0

1

10

36

50

3

One Year Ago

5/12/20

21

17

17

31

15

0

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