Late May snowstorm dumped as much as 30 inches of snow in Colorado

 


The late May snowstorm that dumped as much as 30 inches of snow in the high country of the Arkansas River watershed basin last weekend brought welcome moisture to the region, but drought conditions are expected to persist. 

On Monday, the basin’s snowpack reading came in at just 66% of normal. Although below average, that reading was more than double last week’s figure, according to Natural Resource Conservation Service data compiled by the Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative.

Three-day snowfall amounts from last weekend’s storm totaled 30 inches in Buena Vista, nearly 25 inches in the Twin Lakes and Leadville areas, 20.8 inches in Salida, 17 inches in Canon City and 10.7 inches in Westcliffe, according to the National Weather Service. 

The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor map, issued just before the late spring storm, indicated extreme drought conditions in portions of Fremont, Las Animas and Kiowa counties as well as all of Bent County. Those extreme drought conditions are affecting 23% of the state. 

Pueblo County is among 93.5% of Colorado experiencing moderate drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. Moderate drought can stunt rangeland grass growth, cause dryland crops to suffer and increase chances of wildfire. 

The drought conditions aren’t expected to let up. 

According to Pueblo’s National Weather Service office, a recent climate outlook report from the climate prediction center indicates Puebloans can expect a 60-70% chance of above average temperatures in June, July and August.

The precipitation outlook is “slightly leaning below average,” with a 33-40% chance that rainfall amounts will be less than normal. 

A new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association outlook predicts below-average precipitation across the Arkansas River basin and a 70-80% probability for above-average temperatures, according to the Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative report. 

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