Severe Thunderstorm Watch Friday Afternoon, Tornadoes Possible

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The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for eastern Colorado counties, which will remain in effect until 8:00 p.m. Friday.

Wind gusts could reach 75 miles per hour, with potential for hail up to 2.5 inches in diameter, in areas where storms form. Tornadoes are also possible. 

Shortly after noon Friday, radar showed a line of storms across central and northeast Colorado, which are expected to move toward the southeast as the day progresses.

Colorado counties covered by the watch include

Drought Improvements for Southern Colorado

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Southeast Colorado counties along the border with Kansas saw some improvement in drought conditions over the past week.

Eastern Baca, Prowers and Kiowa counties saw extreme drought pull away from the border, dropping to severe conditions. A narrow portion of north central Kiowa County along with parts of southern Cheyenne County moved to moderate drought from severe conditions. A similar improvement was also noted in central Lincoln County.

Cooler Temperatures, Rain in Store for Kiowa County

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Upper 90s will be replaced with low to mid-80s by Monday, with increasing chances of rain coming to the area just as an early wheat harvest gets underway in some parts of Kiowa County.

Saturday's high will reach 90, accompanied by south wind in the 20 to 30 mile per hour range. Gusts to 40 mph are possible. Later in the day, tropical moisture and the remnants of Hurricane Bud begin to flow into the area, bringing a chance of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. A tenth to a quarter inch of rain is possible overnight as temperatures fall to the mid- to low 60s.

Drought Expansion Shifts to Northwest Colorado

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A week after extreme drought expanded in southeast Colorado, conditions have also deteriorated in the northwest.

Jackson, Grand and Summit counties, which had been largely drought-free, shifted to abnormally dry. Moderate drought expanded to cover most of Moffat county and a larger portion of Eagle county. Severe drought expanded further into eastern Garfield county.

Slight Improvements in Colorado Drought Situation

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While over one-third of Colorado remains in extreme or exceptional drought, parts of the state showed improvements following spring thunderstorms.

Northeast Colorado continues to benefit from late spring rains as conditions improved in Clear Creek, Gilpin, Jefferson, Broomfield, Weld, Adams, Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, Washington, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties. The improving counties saw drought conditions disappear or shift to abnormally dry conditions.

Drought Continues to Deepen in Colorado Despite Improvements in the Northeast

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Despite the start of spring thunderstorms, Colorado's drought situation continued to deteriorate. One-third of the state is in the two worst categories of drought.

Some areas showed improvements, with the northeast and north central areas continuing to lead that trend as the area benefitted from moderate to heavy rain, with some locations receiving up to three inches of rain.

Will Hurricanes be Stronger in the Future?

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Scientists have developed a detailed analysis of how 22 recent hurricanes would be different if they formed under the conditions predicted for the late 21st century.

While each storm's transformation would be unique, on balance, the hurricanes would become a little stronger, a little slower-moving, and a lot wetter.

In one example, Hurricane Ike -- which killed more than 100 people and devastated parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2008 -- could have 13 percent stronger winds, move 17 percent slower, and be 34 percent wetter if it formed in a future, warmer climate.