A map released by the United States Drought Monitor on Thursday shows that much of Colorado is no longer under drought conditions – 48.2 percent of the state, to be exact. Leading the charge out of drought is northeastern and north-central Colorado, parts of the state that have gotten ample precipitation this May.
While dryness is being relieved in some areas, 51.8 percent of Colorado continues to experience drought conditions and 76.7 percent of the state remains abnormally dry. This includes 16.39 percent of the state that continues to experience the most severe level of drought – 'exceptional drought' – as well as 12.57 percent of the state that is in 'extreme' drought, the second most severe tier. When it comes to spots experiencing 'exceptional drought', little improvement has been seen throughout spring.
On a map, the division between places seeing improvement and those that aren't is clear.
Much of the eastern half of the state is drought free, with small pockets in this region experiencing 'moderate drought', the least severe tier of drought. It's a very different story in the western half of the state, where drought is extensive, with the most problematic areas found along the state's western border.
Another problematic issue is lack of snowpack in Colorado, particularly in areas impacted by drought. As this snowpack melts, less relief of dryness is expected, especially in places like the southwest corner of the state where snowpack is at 32 percent of the to-date median. To put that in perspective, the South Platte basin in the northeastern corner where no drought is present is at 121 percent of the to-date median snowpack.
While parts of Colorado are getting some much needed precipitation, with more on the way, it's looking like a rough fire season will be ahead for large swaths of the state, including the western slope.