Did Colorado’s flooding end the drought?

7 day precipitation map Colorado, Utah, Wyoming

That’s the question everyone’s been asking and, according to Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken, it depends where in Colorado you’re looking and how much snow falls  in coming months.

“There will still be some drought on the maps but it’s going to be a much gentler situation– but of course we’re paying a huge price for this improvement,” Doesken said yesterday during his interview on Colorado Public Radio. “With this recent week we’re really in a pretty good state going into the new water year but of course now the question is, will we get snow,” he said. Listen to the full interview here.

Most of northeastern Colorado has now received 70 to 110 percent of average annual precipitation, but unfortunately last week’s deluge of up to 17.5 inches of rain in Boulder did not have the same impact on the eastern Arkansas Basin in the southeastern corner of the state– the part of our state that has seen the most severe drought this year. The D4 area received only .51 to 1 inch of precipitation– some areas around the Arkansas River valley have received only 30 to 50 percent of average precipitation so far this year. Take a look at this week’s Upper Colorado National Integrated Drought Information System report for more numbers.

From a National Geographic blogger:

colorado-drought-mapIf you find the news about Colorado’s latest disaster confounding, you’re not alone.  The floods of 2013 follow on the heels of a summer of drought and extreme wildfires.  That we are experiencing these extremes in a single year is truly incredible.  Call it a case of climate disaster whiplash.  Until last week, it has been easy to focus on the clear signal forecasting that it has gotten warmer and drier, and that it will continue to do so as the decades pass.  But in the midst of that drying trend, the models also tell us to expect rare wet extremes not seen before. Climate scientists warn of increasing VUCA, an acronym of military origins that stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.  In other words, hang on for a wild ride.

Until last week, more than 90% of Colorado was in drought, including all of the Front Range and the eastern side of the state.

We’ll be watching the water year and the impacts of Colorado’s flooding closely in the coming months…stay tuned for stories and science from the flood, or share yours here.



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