Drought worsens with the region’s lack of winter snow, rain

DENVER — February has seen the drought grow and intensify in many areas of the state, particularly the southwestern U.S., including western Colorado.

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Southwestern Colorado jumped into the extreme drought category in the latest monitor.

This has propelled the state into the highest drought level of the past year, and the highest level since summer 2013.

This is part of a La Nina cycle coupled with a warm combination between the northern Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, so it’s not unexpected.

The drought across the southwestern U.S. has accelerated during this winter and now spills over into the Plains.

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Denver is lacking in snowfall and total precipitation this water year.

Since Oct. 1, using the Stapleton reporting station, Denver’s total precipitation is 67 percent of average. Snowfall is only 51 percent of average.

In Boulder, total precipitation is ahead of average since Oct. 1, but snowfall is 88 percent of average.

Although there are a few cases where snow and total precipitation are doing OK in the state, the vast majority is dry.

The forecast for La Nina to weaken might help usher in some relief in the spring if the weakening is quick enough.

If not, fall might be the next best chance to suppress the growth of the drought.

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