Drought Status




According to the November 30 update from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), 0% of the state falls into the exceptional drought category, 14% is in an extreme drought, 52% is in a severe drought, 96% is in a moderate drought, and 100% of Colorado is experiencing abnormally dry conditions. This is an increase from 51 percent in the abnormally dry category just three months ago. The map featured above shows the drought conditions on November 30.

Even though 100 percent of the state is abnormally dry or worse – also the case this time last year – the level of drought present doesn’t match last year in terms of severity. This time last year, roughly 75 percent of the state was experiencing drought at the worst two of four levels, with around 27 percent of the state experiencing the worst level, D4- Exceptional Drought, which currently 0% of the state is registering at. It’s likely Colorado will experience a relatively dry winter this season, with La Niña weather conditions present once again.

The mild fall has kept trees and other vegetation from going dormant therefore they are still using up water that would otherwise be locked in place by cold temperatures. District customers are not restricted by watering rules from November 1 –  April 1. However, only perennial non-grass species should be watered during this time frame. Turf grasses will naturally go dormant during cold/dry times. Trees and bushes should be watered as follows:

During a 3 week dry spell:

Trees: Need about 10 gallons of water for each inch of the tree trunk’s diameter.
Shrubs: Need between 5 and 18 gallons of water.

Additionally:

  • Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit with no snow on the ground. Use the screwdriver test to make sure your soil isn’t frozen, as frozen soil won’t absorb water. An easy way to test for soil moisture is to probe your lawn with a screwdriver. If it goes into the soil easily, that indicates sufficient moisture.
  • Apply water within the dripline — the most critical part of a tree’s root zone. Established large trees have a root spread equal to or greater than the height of the tree.

More information on Winter Watering can be found at the following links:

Winter watering tips for trees, shrubs | Denver Water

When is it OK to water in the winter? | Denver Water

As of November 29, cumulative precipitation in the Colorado River watershed was tracking at 99% of average and the South Platte River watershed was tracking at 35% of average.

As of November 29, snowpack in the South Platte River Watershed was at 68% of normal with a percent of normal peak at 14% while snowpack in the Colorado River Watershed was at 77% of normal with a peak of 18% of normal.

Denver Water’s reservoir levels are 84% full which is the same as it was this time last year. Denver Water’s supply reservoir contents as of November 29 are represented in the table below.

ReservoirPercent Full: CurrentPercent Full: Historical Median
Antero99%99%
Eleven Mile103%102%
Cheesman94%85%
Marston64%48%
Strontia Springs91%93%
Chatfield32%48%
Dillon86%96%
Gross52%78%
Ralston93%69%
Meadow Creek23%42%

The district will continue to work with Denver Water on monitoring the watersheds and will provide updates to our customers through our website and social media channels.