Even though most areas along the Front Range of Colorado have seen over 1″ of precipitation in the last couple of weeks, drought conditions continue to affect the region.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (NOAA’s NCDC), those conditions start along the east side of the Continental Divide and grow steadily worse as you look east and south. 22 counties are completely covered by `Severe` drought conditions. Additional counties have at least some area in the Severe category. Unfortunately, Baca County in southeastern Colorado has slid into the `Extreme` drought category. One of my close friends has a place down there – I know the communities in Baca are growing increasingly worried about these conditions.
Some good news might be on the horizon. The moderate La Nina that has been present is finally starting to weaken: neutral El Nino conditions (+/- 0.5C temperature anomalies) are expected to prevail across the tropical Pacific later this year.
Combined with the North Atlantic Oscillation retreating from its extreme negative phase earlier this winter to more neutral conditions, the polar and subtropical jet streams should be returning to more “normal” placements and strengths. This could hopefully mean that normal storm tracks will again appear over Colorado this summer. If the monsoon shows up this year, that would be great too.
I’m pleased as punch that many mountain sites have near-record snowpack this year. The plains sure could use some moisture moving into 2011. Nobody wants to see the conditions in Texas affect other places.
Cross-posted at SquareState.