El Niño projected to bring above average autumn precipitation
FRISCO —Serious drought conditions persisted across the far West in July, but Colorado’s wet spring and summer helped boost the state’s water supplies and stream flow forecasts going into the late summer and fall. Only two small slices of the state have experienced abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.The flow of moisture slowed slightly in late July and early August, but moderate summer temperatures slowed the loss of moisture from soils enough to prevent drought from taking hold, state water experts said during their Aug. 12 update.
In fact, water supplies continue to increase and statewide storage is the highest since 2000, with water providers reporting storage levels more than 90 percent of capacity, and demand was lower than this time last year, water trackers reported during the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s monthly drought update.
The average statewide temperature for July was the coolest since 2004, and while conditions warmed up in August, western slope temperatures remained below average, according to the Colorado Climate Center.
In early August, rainfall remained above normal where the moisture is needed the most — across the southwestern corner of the state, where weather stations in the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins tallied 118 percent of normal precipitation during the first 10 days of the month.
Reservoir Storage statewide was at 117 percent of average on August 1, with the highest levels in the Arkansas River Basin, at 153 percent of average.
The Upper Rio Grande has the lowest storage levels at 92 percent of average — the only basin with below average storage.
After hovering between 1 and six degrees Fahrenheit above normal for much of the winter and spring, temps across Colorado dropped well below normal in May, rebounded in June and dropped again in July.
Cool temperatures in July helped preserve soil moisture and reduced demand for water across most of Colorado.
July 2015 precipitation was above average, and seasonal climate projections suggest that a strong El Niño could help bring plentiful moisture to the state in the late summer and autumn.