VAIL, Colorado - For the first time since March, drought conditions in part of Eagle County are no longer severe, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Eastern Eagle County, along with all of Summit and Lake counties, was reduced to "D1," moderate drought intensity, on the Tuesday monitor, which was released Thursday. This headwaters region comprises 2 percent of Colorado and is the only area in the state not in severe, extreme, or exceptional drought (D2, D3, and D4, respectively, on the Drought Monitor's D0 to D4 scale). Western Eagle County remains at D2, severe.
Drought conditions began locally in January due to poor snowpack. Conditions in Eagle County became severe in April after the driest March on record and elevated to extreme by early June. A wetter than normal July returned conditions back to severe by August, where they stayed until this week's reduction to "moderate."
July's above average rainfall substantially helped local water supply conditions and avoided Eagle River Water and Sanitation District customers from having to limit water use beyond the normal, year-round regulations - which allow outdoor water use up to three days per week, before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. August saw just enough rain to moderate outdoor water demand during high irrigation season and many in the community decreased outdoor water use as local streamflows dropped in August and September.
The reduction in local drought intensity is tempered by the fact that drought persists throughout Colorado and has intensified on the eastern plains. Summer 2012 was the warmest on record in the state, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. This continues a 2012 trend as both the three- and six-month periods, of June through August and March through August, were the warmest on record for Colorado.
The outlook for winter remains mixed. Snow provides a majority of Colorado's water supply so Eagle River Water and Sanitation District always closely monitors conditions at local SNOTEL sites. Weekly snowpack graphs are available at www.erwsd.org.
For more information, call ERWSD Public Affairs at 970-477-5457.