Two Southern Colorado Counties Experiencing ‘Exceptional Drought’
Two Colorado counties made the most severe drought level possible on the U.S. Drought Monitor. What's worse is it doesn't appear there will be any relief for at least another two months.
Colorado's La Plata and Montezuma counties both classified as experiencing "exceptional drought," the most critical category on the U.S. Drought Monitor. According to the Durango Herald, the region shouldn't expect relief until monsoon season rolls around in July.
The good news, assuming there is good news in this matter, is that these two are the only counties in Colorado in the "exceptional drought" category. A fire ban in Montezuma County is already in effect, having been initiated on April 16.
Is this drought something Colorado should have anticipated? According to the Durango Herald, one meteorologist says events such as this are unlikely. Brad Rippey with the U.S. Department of Agriculture said conditions resulting in an "exceptional drought" are a 1-in-50 year chance.
"It's pretty significant in the context of history." - Brad Rippey, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Rippey went on to add "Winter was pretty much a disaster for the Four Corners."
Below is a look at Colorado's overall drought conditions from two weeks ago, shortly before southern portions of the state were upgraded from "Extreme" to "Exceptional."
Several areas in southern Colorado can expect slim water runoff this year. According to the National Resource Conservation Service, the Animas, Dolores, Miguel and San Juan basins, not to mention the Upper Rio Grande, all experienced the lowest snowpack in Colorado.
Jarrod Biggs, the city of Durango’s assistant utilities director, says the city's reservoir is at about normal. He adds, though, if water supplies in the area run low, restrictions on irrigation could be implemented.
A U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook map was just released. This map suggest drought conditions in the area will continue through at least the end of July.