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Colorado Is Drought-free For The First Time In 4 Years, But Changes In The Weather Are Underway

For the first time in nearly four years, the state of Colorado is free of drought

For the first time in nearly four years, the state of Colorado is free of drought. Thanks to more frequent storms and showers over the past several months, the United States Drought Monitor map as of July 6 showed no areas of drought in the state for the first time since July 16, 2019.

Since late May, a weak upper-level area of low atmospheric pressure has been parked over the Rocky Mountain region, said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Feerick. As wind energy pivoted around the low pressure area, it helped to trigger frequent bouts of showers and storms, contributing to wetter weather than the historical average, Feerick said.

As a swallow zooms by in the foreground, smoke from wildland fires on the western side of the Continental Divide slightly shrouds the skyline as the daytime high temperature heads toward 90 degrees Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Denver.
The daytime high temperature headed toward 90 degrees Wednesday, June 28, 2023, in Denver. DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/GETTY IMAGES 

The wet weather has been quite the change for the state, which had been in the grips of drought conditions for the past four years. From August 2020 until April 2021, 100% of the state’s land area experienced “abnormally dry” or more severe drought conditions, according to an AccuWeather analysis of U.S. Drought Monitor data. The state recorded a similar stretch of dry conditions from November 2021 to April 2022.

This summer, the state experienced a significant uptick in wet weather. On May 9, only 41% of Colorado had recorded abnormally dry or worse conditions. By last week, the entire state was officially drought-free.

Typically, the Denver region would be under the influence of an area of high pressure, inhibiting some of that wetter weather by the middle of June, but Feerick said that hasn’t been the case this year. Yet, throughout the coming week, Feerick said he expects high pressure to finally take hold. Forecasters said the pattern change could bring higher temperatures and drier weather, though temperatures should only be slightly above the historical average of about 90 degrees in the middle of July.

AccuWeather forecasters expect high temperatures to hit the mid-90s in Denver for most of the week. Temperatures could decline slightly by Friday and Saturday, however.

“The center of the ridge [of high pressure] is going to move westward late in the week into the weekend and that should allow temperatures to come back near average, with more opportunities for a couple of thunderstorms to impact the region,” said Feerick.

California was another state that was in a drought emergency that had a water shortage. Heavy rain and snow that took place this year alleviated the state as it saw snow in the Sierra Nevada.

Colorado saw moisture in the beginning of July in different cities that includes Pueblo and Colorado Springs.

“The western side of the state had great snow pack this winter. So, we have grown up all of this vegetation and then we dried it out and it got crispy,” said Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Alberto Arellano and Saba Fatima

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