Colorado drought conditions drastically improve in nearly half the state, but it’s a different story on the Western Slope

Jake Shapiro
The Denver Post

The wet spring across the Front Range brought much-needed moisture to Colorado, which had been classified as dry since last July, allowing more than 23% of the state to emerge from dry conditions in just five weeks.

Over the last 13 weeks, about half of the state has been relieved of drought, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of Friday, Denver alone has had 8.4 inches of precipitation this spring.

“It’s been a great spring, just what we needed east of the (Continental) Divide,” said Russ Schumacher, director of the Colorado Climate Center. “The big snowstorm in March kicked it off, and then we’ve had this steady string of these upslope storms with rain or snow depending on where you’re at. Considering how bad things were last fall and the start of the winter, we’ve turned that around. But you look west of the divide, and it’s a totally different story, and that’s where those severe drought conditions continue.”

The current drought developed rapidly. No area in the state suffered from dry conditions as recently as July 2019. Now more than 16% of the state is in a stage-four “Exceptional Drought,” which is considered the worst. While most of the northeastern part of Colorado has quelled water concerns, for now, the northwest portion of the state, where the drought is at its worse, only saw the area of drought grow.

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