Drought conditions improve slightly in Colorado

Biggest improvement in northeast part of state

DENVER - The drought numbers improved some for Colorado this past week, thanks to this past Saturday’s snowfall.  The highest drought level, exceptional, dropped from 21 percent to 14% percent of the state. 

This current drought is far better than the drought monitor of 2002.  From June through September of 2002 the drought monitor showed nearly 35% of the state was considered in exceptional drought, a level we have not reached during any season since then. 

Denver’s snowiest month is March, and it lived up to its reputation again this year.  23.4 inches of snow has fallen at DIA, whereas the normal is 11.5 inches.  This snowy March has pushed us ahead on annual snowfall to date, too.  Normally by the end of March Denver would have 46.8 inches, and this year we have measured 54.5 inches.

Although headed in the right direction, the drought numbers may actually increase.  The outlook for April is drier and warmer than normal for much of the state.  We still have time to get additional snow and rain before the month is over; the state has a chance for both rain and snow Friday through Easter Sunday.

Colorado's largest water utility, Denver Water, declared a Stage 2 drought on Wednesday. Officials also issued mandatory watering restrictions starting April 1.

"The last time we declared a Stage 2 drought was in 2002,” said Greg Austin, president of the Denver Board of Water Commissioners. “We are facing a more serious drought now than we faced then."

The utility said reservoirs haven't been full since July 2011. An estimated 7 feet of mountain snowfall would be required by late April to get the supply back to a normal level.

A list of current drought restrictions: http://ch7ne.ws/YJBHZU

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