Mar 21, 2022 - News

Drought forecast for Colorado shows troubling signs this spring and summer

U.S. seasonal drought outlook
Data: NOAA; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

The drought forecast for the next six months doesn't look good in Colorado.

Driving the news: In an alarming new outlook, the National Weather Service says that drought conditions are likely to persist and even expand across the West this spring, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

  • The agency's initial summer forecast predicts above-average temperatures from June through August for all of Colorado, with even greater than normal highs for the southwest half of the state.

The big picture: As of March 15, drought extended across about 61% of the country, the greatest drought extent seen since 2013, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  • That figure may grow. The official spring outlook released Thursday calls for "prolonged, persistent drought" in the West yet again.

Zoom in: Colorado's snowpack sits at 100% of median levels across most of the state after the latest series of winter storms.

  • But the precipitation won't fix long-standing problems in the West. For instance, Lake Powell, in Arizona, fell below 3.525 feet this week, putting it at its lowest level since the lake was first filled more than 50 years ago.

What to watch: Drought conditions are likely to worsen this summer in much of the West and the High Plains, as conditions favor warmer and drier temperatures.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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