Lorena Williams, spokeswoman for the Forest Service, said the agency is expecting above-average fire potential in May and June. Yields were somewhat down for alfalfa, officials said, because the limited water supply was spread too thin or was concentrated on fewer fields, Curtis said. A cold front arrived Monday, dropping temperatures into the mid-80s. Monsoonal rains are hitting Arizona and New Mexico but are being blocked Southwest Colorado. For the year, precipitation is about half of normal, according to a weather station at Durango-La Plata County Airport. “People underappreciate how important soil moisture is.”. Unfortunately, there is no carryover storage for McPhee heading into this winter, and the soil has again dried out. “We’re seeing significant amounts of dry fuels, and we’re expecting more of this hot and dry and windy conditions,” Doughty said. Trees stressed from drought, however, tend to accelerate this process, causing colors to not be as bright and trees to shed their leaves earlier than normal, Remke said. But aspens, which put on fall’s brightest show and account for 20% of Colorado’s forests, usually peak near the end of September to early October, which is typically a few weeks later than trees in most of the rest of the state. Williams and his colleagues, however, found by studying soil moisture content in tree ring records that the region had experienced four periods of more than two decades of severe drought conditions in the past 1,200 years. Colorado, consider using more drought Drought-Tolerant Trees for Colorado Landscapes Keith Wood, Colorado State Forest Service tolerant and/or native plant materials. Extreme drought Level D3 – is the fourth-highest of five drought categories. According to the August 4 update from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), 26.6% of Colorado is in an extreme drought, 32.2% is in a severe drought, 27.1% is in a moderate drought and 14.1% of the state is abnormally dry. However, some sectors are more vulnerable to drought than others, and drought can appear rapidly after just one season of below-average precipitation. window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; Hal Doughty, chief of Durango Fire Protection District, said local fire chiefs in the region sent a letter Friday to La Plata County, requesting commissioners implement Stage 1 fire restrictions. “If you have 1,000 sick firefighters not able to do their job, you’re going to have significantly expanding problems,” he said. Though high elevation weather stations recorded about normal snowpack levels, researchers estimated snow levels were below average. Drought in Colorado from 2000 - 2020. This year’s saving grace was carryover supply in McPhee left over from the above-normal snowpack of last winter, Curtis said. Using 31 computer climate models, the researchers estimated that climate change contributed nearly half to the severity of the current drought. Allocations for full-service irrigators were at 19 inches per acre, down from the full supply of 22 inches. “They’re obviously stressed from lack of water,” he said. Southwest Colorado’s current dry spell began in October 2019 and lasted through the winter. The researchers described the current drought, which has helped intensify wildfire seasons and threatened water supplies for people and agriculture, as an “emerging megadrought.” Although 2019 was a relatively wet year, and natural climate variability could bring good luck in the form of more wet years that would end the drought, global warming increases the odds that it will continue. Megadroughts – defined as intense droughts that last for decades or …