Colorado remains dry over the course of the state’s "water year," which began Oct. 1, 1999, but recent precipitation in February and March has greatly improved moisture conditions, according to the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University.
A single statewide assessment since the beginning of February would put Colorado’s precipitation levels "a bit above average," but conditions ranged from almost no precipitation near Alamosa, Trinidad, Springfield, Pueblo and Salida to well above the norm in Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs, Summit County and Sterling.
February was generally wet in the northern and central mountains and in northwest Colorado, near average in the high mountains of the state’s southwestern corner and dry in the southwestern valleys, said Nolan Doesken, assistant state climatologist. East of the mountains, he said, areas around Sterling, Holyoke and Limon got lots of moisture, but nearby areas received nothing.
Last year, by the beginning of March, near- or slightly above-average conditions prevailed.
"Most of eastern Colorado was at or a bit above average," Doesken said. "This year, for the same period (since Oct. 1), accumulated precipitation is much lower, less than 80 percent of average. But unlike March 1999, which was exceptionally warm and dry, March 2000 is progressing normally. We are getting the normal spring storms, and they are producing beneficial moisture. The storm beginning March 14 and continuing sporadically has produced needed precipitation for Front Range communities, not making up deficits but providing short-term relief."
For April, Doesken said residents should expect the beginning of thunderstorm season, with local rain, lightning and localized hail in eastern Colorado and some significant snows, especially in the higher mountains and along the Front Range.
The Colorado Climate Center’s Web site is at http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu.