Drought Information Statement from NWS-Pueblo

January 13, 2022…Drought Conditions Deepen across Southeast Colorado


After a very warm and dry start to the 2022 Water-Year (October 1-September 30), snow accumulation started in earnest in early December, with several passing weather systems bringing abundant mountain precipitation through the middle and end of December. By the end of the month, state wide snowpack had risen to at and above median, with NRCS data indicating 34 of the mountain Snotel sites seeing record precipitation for the month of the December, and another 19 Snotels receiving the second most December precipitation on record. Unfortunately, not much of this precipitation made it past the Continental Divide, with unseasonably warm temperatures and strong winds the rule across southeast Colorado for much of the month.

With that said, the latest US Drought Monitor issued Thursday, January 13th, 2022, indicates some improvements in the drought along and west of the Continental Divide, along with worsening drought conditions across southeastern Colorado.  Extreme drought (D3) conditions are depicted across southern Las Animas County and the southern 2/3rds of Baca County.  Severe drought (D2) conditions are now indicated across most of the rest of southeast Colorado, including Las Animas and Baca Counties, as well as western and southern portions of Crowley County, Otero County, Kiowa County, Bent County and Prowers County.


The persistent warm, windy and generally dry weather has continued to dry out soils, with CPC soil moisture data, as well as short term (1week and 1 month) and longer term (2 and 3 month) Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) data, indicating very dry conditions across much of south central and especially southeast Colorado.


NRCS data indicates December statewide mountain precipitation was an amazing 216 percent of median, which brings statewide 2022 water-year to date precipitation up to 120 percent of median overall.

In the Arkansas basin, December precipitation was 147 percent of median, which brings the Arkansas basin 2022 water-year to date precipitation total up to 85 percent of median overall.

In the Rio Grande basin, December precipitation was an amazing 189 percent of median, which bring the Rio Grande basin 2022 water year to date precipitation total up to 96 percent of median overall.

As of January 1st, 2022, NRCS data indicated statewide snowpack was at126 percent of median, compared to 91 percent of median at this time last year.

In the Arkansas basin, January 1st snowpack came in at 86 percent of median, as compared to 103 percent of median at this time last year.  NRCS data also indicated stark differences in snowpack conditions, with southern portions of the basin severally lagging behind the northern and the headwaters region of the Arkansas basin.  In the Arkansas Basin, water storage at the end of December came in at 91 percent of median overall, as compared to the 88 percent of median storage available at this same time last year.


The average temperature in Pueblo for the past month of December was39.3 degrees. This is 7.68 degrees above normal and makes December of2021 the 4th warmest on record in Pueblo. Pueblo recorded 0.15 inches of precipitation and 1.1 inches of snow through the month of December. This is 0.14 inches below normal and 3.5 inches below normal, respectively.

Filed Under: AgricultureCountyEnvironmentFeaturedMedia ReleaseRecreationTourismWaterWeather


About the Author: