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NIDIS Intermountain West
Drought Early Warning System
March 19, 2019

Current U.S. Drought Monitor Depiction

Recommended Changes

Summary: March 19, 2019

The term of the week was "bomb cyclone" with the storm affecting much of the Intermountain West region, especially Colorado and northern New Mexico with wind, rain, and snow.  Western Colorado saw at least 0.50 - 1.00" of liquid precipitation last week.  The best totals once again in the San Juan Mountains with 2.00 - 4.00".  Utah was mostly dry seeing less than 0.25" through most of the state with the exception of southeastern Utah and in the Wasatch Range.  Arizona and New Mexico saw at least 0.25" up to 2.00".  Eastern Colorado saw the brunt of the bomb cyclone, seeing liquid precipitation totals in the 0.50" to 2.00" and a lot of wind and blowing snow.  The precipitation winner of the event was in Adams, Arapahoe, and Elbert counties with precipitation amounts above 2.00".

With the amazing active patter since February, mountain snowpack through the Intermountain West is great, with all basins seeing above normal snowpack to date.  All of the major basins in the UCRB and Colorado have surpassed their normal peak SWE, with the exception of the Upper Green Basin in Wyoming, which is above normal to date and just 8% away from reaching normal peak SWE.  Now that snowpack is starting to settle, avalanche danger is starting to drop a bit, from historic levels, but is still very high.  Most SNOTEL sites are in the 90th percentile or better through southern Colorado and much of Utah.

Reservoirs, streamflow and soil moisture are still low, however we expect to see improving conditions once the snowmelt starts up.

The 7-day outlook shows another shot of precipitation for much of the IMW region and the 8-14 day outlook is showing chances for above normal precipitation.



UCRB:  A 1-category improvement is being recommended for parts of the UCRB in southern Utah and southwestern Colorado.  The D1 along the UT/AZ border and D1-D3 along the CO/NM border should be improved to 1-category.  We are also recommending D0 improvement to Dnada in Gunnison and western Saguache County.  Continued precipitation since February has snowpack in excellent conditions.  While conditions are great in the UCRB, the 2018 drought has had a long lasting impact on the area and we will most likely hold on to the remaining D0 for at least a few more weeks and even into the snowmelt season.  

New Mexico: The NM drought group is recommending removal of the D4 and beginning the process of trimming D3 in the northwestern portion of the state.  They are also recommending removal of D3 in the north-central part of the state with improvements in west-central NM.

Eastern Colorado: Continuing the 1-category improvement from the West Slope, we are recommending a 1-category improvement through almost all of eastern Colorado and into southeastern Wyoming.  This weeks storm, coupled with recent precipitation in March and the end of February is driving this improvement.  There are few signs of the current drought depiction on all time-scales.


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