The southwest monsoon became fairly active across the region over July, and brought some much needed rainfall to southern Colorado. However the spotty rainfalls were not enough to overcome the extremely dry fall and winter season brought on by the strong La Nina conditions.
Exceptional (D4) drought conditions still exist in southern Baca County. (D3) conditions remain across Crowley and Otero Counties, western Kiowa County and most of Bent County and portions of southwest Prowers and the rest of Baca County.
The USDA has designated nine more counties in Colorado as primary natural disaster areas due to drought conditions. These include Bent and Chaffee counties, Kiowa, Huerfano, Prowers, Las Animas and Pueblo counties. Baca, Crowley and Otero counties were declared disaster areas earlier this summer. Impacts reported include the inability to plant along with failed acres, as well as the culling of herds. Farmers and ranchers in these counties are eligible for low interest emergency loans.
The southern monsoon has brought some much needed precipitation which has lowered the fire danger across portions of the area. Colorado Springs, El Paso County and BLM lands in Chaffee County have cancelled all fire restrictions. However fire ban restrictions remain in place for most of south central and southeast Colorado which includes federal and state lands.
The latest USDA Colorado Crop report shows 42% of top soil moisture across the state as short or very short, compared to 33% the same time last year. 42% of the subsoil moisture across the state is rated at short or very short, compared to only 34% this time last year. CPC soil moisture calculations continue to indicate the very dry conditions as well, with must of south central and southeast Colorado showing deficiencies of 50 to 100 millimeters (2 to 4) inches. The Colorado Crop Report also states that pasture and range feed conditions were variable across the state, rated at very poor to good conditions. The poorest conditions remain across the south of the state. Producers in the southeastern region have continued to reduce their heard numbers due to the poor range conditions and limited feed supplies.
The primary observation site at Alamosa was 4.3 degrees above the monthly average, making July 2011 the hottest on record for the city. Alamosa only tallied 0.14 inches of precipitation in July which is 0.80 inches below normal, making this July the third driest on record. Colorado Springs was 5.5 degrees above the monthly average, making July 2011 the fifth hottest on record. Colorado Springs however, reported 4.9 inches of rain in July for 2.05 inches above normal and the 12th wettest month on record. Just over two inches of rain was received in Colorado Springs in one hour on July 13. Last month was the first time that city has received above average precipitation since December, 2009. Pueblo was 3.8 degrees above average for the month, making July the 9th hottest on record. Pueblo received 2.35 inches of precipitation for the month, which is 0.31 inches above average.