Drought Continues across South Central and Southeast Colorado



April of 2022 was a warm, windy and dry month across south central and especially southeast Colorado, as weather systems moved mainly north of the area, bringing very windy weather and mainly dry weather to southern Colorado. This dry and very windy pattern brought critical and extreme fire weather conditions to much of south central and southeast Colorado through out the month, with several wildfires and dust storms recorded across the region.

While a quick moving storm system brought some much needed precipitation across southeastern Colorado to start the month of May, it was not enough to even put a dent in the current drought across southern Colorado.

With that said, the latest US Drought Monitor issued Thursday, May 5th, 2022, continues to indicate exceptional drought (D4) conditions across far southwestern into east central portions of Baca County.

Extreme drought (D3) conditions are also depicted across extreme southern and southeastern Las Animas County, most of the rest of Baca County, extreme southeastern Bent County and the southern half of Prowers County.

Severe drought (D2) conditions are indicated across most of Crowley County, Kiowa County, eastern Otero County, Bent County, northern Prowers County, extreme northwestern Baca County, and central portions of Las Animas County.

Moderate drought (D1) conditions are depicted across the rest of Pueblo, Crowley, Otero and Las Animas Counties.


Very dry and windy weather through out the month of April brought high to extreme fire danger to most of the snow free areas of south central and southeast Colorado. There were several wildfire starts across south central and southeast Colorado since the beginning of April, prompting fire bans and restrictions across most of south central and southeast Colorado.  The latest information on fire bans and restrictions across the area can be found at: www.coemergency.com/p/fire-bans-danger.html


The USDA`s “Colorado Crop Progress” report for the week ending May 1st, 2022 indicated 88 percent of topsoil moisture and 82 percent of subsoil moisture across the state being reported as short or very short. The report also indicated that reporters from Otero and Crowley Counties noted that “strong winds, dry conditions and high temperatures fueled dust storms and fires across the region”.


NRCS data indicated the statewide snowpack on May 1st was down to 79 percent of median, as compared to 77 percent of median at this time last year. However, stark differences in location of said snowpack are evident, with southern basins indicating much faster melt off than northern basins, in part due to dust storms across the region.

In the Arkansas basin, May 1st snowpack came in at only 66 percent of median, as compared to the 78 percent of median snowpack at this time last year. May 1st snowpack fell drastically due in part to only 57 percent of median precipitation was recorded through the month of April. This also dropped water-year-to-date precipitation across the Arkansas basin to 87 percent of median.

NRCS data also indicated statewide water storage was at 77 percent of median overall at the end of April, as compared to the 81 percent of median storage available at this time last year.

In the Arkansas Basin, water storage at the end of April came in at 92 percent of median overall, as compared to the 89 percent of median storage available at this same time last year.  May 1st streamflow forecasts in the Arkansas Basin range from near 40 percent of median at Trinidad Lake inflow to 80 percent of median at Chalk Creek near Nathrop.


The average temperature in Pueblo for the past month of April was 52.9 degrees, which is 1.6 degrees above normal. Pueblo recorded 0.51 inches of precipitation through the month of March, which is 1.06 inches below normal. Pueblo only recorded a trace of snowfall in April of 2022. This is 3.4 inches below normal and makes April of 2022 tied as the 12th least snowy March on record.

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