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Recent Storms Bring Hope To Drought Stricken SE Colorado

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Chris Spears By Chris Spears
CBS4 Meteorologist
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DENVER (CBS4) - We’re just days away from the start of summer, which is a crucial season for eastern Colorado.

The eastern plains receive roughly 75 percent of their annual precipitation during the warm season, which runs from April through September.

A big chunk of that moisture falls from thunderstorms during the months of June, July and August.

HOPING FOR A DENT IN THE DROUGHT

As has been the case for the past several summers, there is great anticipation about what the next several weeks will bring in terms of new rainfall.

It’s been rather stormy for the past few weeks, and some locations have seen some much needed rain.

In fact, for the first time in recent memory, the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows some spotty relief in the drought conditions across eastern and southeast Colorado.

Drought conditions across Colorado as of June 17, 2014. (credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)

Drought conditions across Colorado as of June 17, 2014. (credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)

Portions of Cheyenne, Kiowa, Prowers and Baca Counties have had enough rain to now be classified as D3 (extreme) drought versus D4 (exceptional) drought just a few weeks ago.

While this great news, especially to those looking for a glimmer of hope, sadly, it’s far from over.

Extreme drought continues across eastern Otero, southern Crowley, and portions of Kiowa and Bent counties.

The latest U.S. Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows that while drought conditions will remain across southeast Colorado this summer, there is a good chance to see some continued improvement.

The latest U.S. Drought Outlook, issued June 19, 2014. (credit: Climate Prediction Center)

The latest U.S. Drought Outlook, issued June 19, 2014. (credit: Climate Prediction Center)

The North American monsoon begins on July 1, which is a seasonal shift in the upper level wind pattern that brings plumes of tropical moisture out of Mexico and into the southern and central Rockies.

The monsoon is an important player in the daily thunderstorm cycle for eastern Colorado.

In addition, we’re on the verge of seeing an El Niño declared, which is a warming of the waters in the equatorial Pacific. The latest national forecasts show a 70 percent chance this will happen.

El Niño has a major impact on global climate patterns, including an impact on hurricanes. Often, during an El Niño cycle, the tropics are quiet in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

During an El Niño, the weather pattern usually favors a more southern storm track across the United States, with Colorado often right on the edge.

Much remains to be seen in the days and weeks ahead as to how the summer weather patterns play out, but fingers are crossed that we continue to see some relief for our friends in drought stricken southeast Colorado.

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