WeatherWeather Science


Drought increasing in southern Colorado

Gunnison County Carol Gebhart
Posted at 2:33 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 20:36:20-04

Fall brings changes to Colorado, like the grass turning brown while shrubs and trees lose their leaves. These are normal things to expect in September in Colorado. Colorado Springs breaking its record for hottest September day for the second year in a row (98° on Sept. 11)? Not normal.

Stretches of warm and dry weather late in the summer have led to drought returning to the Colorado plains.

This week, a reintroduction of D1 Moderate drought levels has returned to Crowley county and surrounding areas as well as Baca county.

Drought Monitor as of September 21, 2021

We are in much better shape this September versus September 2020, where the majority of the state was under severe and extreme drought. And last fall brought one of the worst wildfire seasons in state history.

September 2020 drought monitor

Until now, Colorado Springs has been riding on a precipitation surplus from wet weather in Spring and early Summer. For the first time this year, Colorado Springs is at a deficit for the water year.

Drought is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes a long time to develop and a long time to fix. This summer's initial improvement in drought across eastern Colorado now seems to be tipping the other way.

Looking ahead, the Climate Prediction Center anticipates precipitation leaning below average in Fall, and temperatures will likely be above average.

CPC Precipitation Outlook Fall 2021
CPC Temperature Outlook Fall 2021

This Fall forecast supports drought persisting or worsening into 2022.