Southern Colorado progressed from abnormally dry to moderate drought this week, according to the latest data from the US Drought Monitor. This comes as the region -- like the rest of the state -- is also seeing unusually low snowpack.
The latest data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows snowpack totals in the Arkansas River Basin as roughly half of average for this time of year. The region will need to see precipitation totals well above normal -- about 130% -- in the coming months in order to regain lost ground.
Tony Anderson, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo, says the outlook doesn't look particularly promising.
"The most dominant trend is for above normal temperatures, and that trend holds pretty well into the April timeframe," he explains. He adds that "the precipitation trends on those long term outlooks are showing a slightly below normal signal over that same timeframe."
Snowpack feeds the Arkansas River, which supplies a significant share of the overall water in much of southern Colorado. Anderson says water users from Colorado Springs to Pueblo to the Lower Arkansas River Valley will likely have to make adjustments if the current deficit persists.
"It’s not time to panic," he says, "but it’s time to pay attention to what’s going on, because this could be the beginning of something very, very dry."