Colorado’s fire, drought issues increase |

Colorado’s fire, drought issues increase

Jane Reuter

By mid-May, more than 440 fires had burned about 23,000 acres in Colorado, still more evidence of the toll dry conditions are taking on the state, according to the Fort Collins-based Colorado Climate Center.

Statewide, snowpack was at about 19 percent of average in early May. April marked the eighth consecutive mont of below-average snowfall and precipitation in Colorado, leaving the statewide snowpack on May 1 at a record low.

“Colorado’s 2000-01 low winter snowfall and precipitation, combined with abundant sunny skies that promoted snowmelt, sent the state’s snowpack into a downward spiral and will result in decreases in expected streamflow,” state state climatologist Roger Pielke St. “Lower levels of water in reservoirs this year only add to supply concerns.”

The lowest snowpack continues to be measured in southern Colorado, with some portions measuring only 6 percent of average.

In addition, snowpack melt across Colorado is progressing six to eight weeks earlier than normal.

The state’s Colorado Drought Watch newsletter reports that reservoir storage across Colorado was 86 percent of average at the beginning of May. with increased summer water demands, along with low inflows, those percentages are expected to be drop severely throughout the upcoming months.

Livestock forage and irrigation water may be threatened if current dry conditions continue. For more information about drought-related agricultural information, visit the Web site at

The Colorado Climate Center, housed in Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, also have a Web site that provides access to current drought information. The site, includes a special drought section with links to monthly Colorado Drought Watch newsletters, Colorado Drought Task Force reports and meeting minutes, water conservation and drought planning information, daily updated snowpack data, water supply and precipitation reports, and streamflow forecasts.

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