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Long Term Climate - Colorado

Drought Update- May 25, 2002

Nolan Doesken
Research Associate
nolan@ccc.atmos.colostate.edu

A wonderfully beneficial cold rain changing in some areas to wet snow left
1-2" of water along the Front Range from about the Wyoming line near Virginia Dale down to SW Denver. The snows (up to 15" and locally more) were very wet in the foothills, but snow dropped off in quantity and water content above about 9,000 feet. Likewise, the precipitation dropped off quickly towards the east across Weld and Adams County and also decreased south from Denver. Much of the state receive little moisture from this storm -- just cooler temperatures.

The rains and wet snows did increase streamflow in the South Platte and its tributaries and significantly improved soil moisture and reduced water demand in the Fort Collins-Denver urban corrider. Enough moisture fell in this are to meet ET demand for at least a week. Unfortunately, much of the state did not receive this beneficial precipitation.

The outlook for the next few days is warming up with temperatures headed into the 70s and 80s except in the mountains. This will mean increased ET rates and moisture stress. Some afternoon thundershowers may develop, but at this time isolated to scattered showers are about the best we can expect.

Based on historic data, the next 2-3 weeks is still a wet period for northern and eastern Colorado -- but a very dry period for western and southern Colorado. The first half of June over eastern Colorado is the most likely time of year for severe weather -- hail and tornadoes. It is very uncommon to be totally dry at this time of year over the Eastern Plains, but with each passing week, the chances for widespread soaking rains decrease and is replaced by localized downpours. Hot temperatures and rapid drying conditions (if you have any water to begin with) usually kick in during June. When soil moisture is very limited, summer daytime temperatures are often very hot, but nighttime temperatures are relatively cool.

 


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