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Maura Bennett US Drought Monitor
by Maura Bennett, click here for bio

Program: Colorado Ag Today
Date: August 21, 2019

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Colorado is not in drought for the first time in years. Only small portions of Moffat, Montezuma, La Plata, Rio Blanco and Baca counties are experiencing abnormally dry conditions - not enough to tilt toward drought. A year ago, more than 81 percent of the state registered from abnormally dry conditions all the way to severe drought.

And we know all that because of the US Drought Monitor which has been compiling drought information for 20 years this summer.

USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey, one of the original authors and still works on the Drought Monitor today.

Though the lack of drought is something to celebrate scientists say the conditions are likely temporary and warn that drought conditions will return. So they are working toward more accurate drought reporting

There are suggestions to have farmers and ranchers assist the USDA in data gathering - a boots on the ground approach. But that brings with it new challenges because Rippey says farmers are using a variety of sensors and data gathering devices and many farmers are very protective of their information. Colorado's average temperature has risen 2 degrees in the last 30 years and is expected to increase another 2 to 4 degrees by 2050. And higher temperatures can increase the intensity and duration of droughts.

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