Climate: Drought expanding again in Colorado

Odds favor above-average temps the next few months

June brought dry and warm conditions to Colorado.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After a short-lived burst of late spring moisture, much of Colorado is veering back toward drought conditions, with soil moisture declining in many parts of the state.

Even the north-central mountains, which saw above-average precipitation in late April and May, are drying out again, and parts of Summit and Grand counties are once again designated as experience “moderate” drought conditions, according to the June 18 drought monitor. The far southwestern corner of the state slipped back into “extreme” drought conditions.

And while Denver Water recently eased its watering restrictions, the drought monitor shows that moderate drought conditions have returned to the Colorado Front Range, including Denver, Boulder, Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley.

Nearly all of the state (with the exception of a tiny area in the far southeastern corner) saw less than 50 percent of average June precipitation, which isn’t very high to begin with. A significant portion of western Colorado received less that 25 percent of average precipitation for the month.

The outlook is for continued above-average temps.

June temperatures were near average across much of the mountains, but slightly warmer than average to the west and east of the Continental Divide.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for a 50 to 60 percent chance of above-average temperatures for all of Colorado for the rest of the summer and into early Autumn, with no clear indication of precipitation.

For Summit County, the second half of July and the first part of August is often one of the wettest periods of the year — if the Southwest monsoon develops normally to deliver periodic afternoon thunderstorms.

Late August and September can go either way. An extended monsoon can sometimes persist through late August, and a developing El Niño can bring autumn moisture, but there’s no indication yet that an El Niño is forming out in the Pacific Ocean.

In fact, most long-term climate models are suggesting that the equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures will continue to hover near neutral or perhaps slightly below, with better odds for yet another La Niña year, continuing a string that’s somewhat unprecedented in recent times.




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