DENVER – The summer drought that lingered throughout Colorado has become worse.
The entire state is currently experiencing abnormally dry conditions and nearly 17% of the land area is in exceptional drought, the most extreme category, the U.S. Drought Monitor said.
The drought is happening just a year after most of Colorado was declared drought-free.
On Thursday, the Drought Monitor released a report that showed all of La Plata County engulfed in the “extreme” and “exceptional” drought categories.
The western part of the state has been hit the hardest, with Kiowa County on the Eastern Plains also experiencing exceptional drought, which can bring dust storms and cripple agriculture, Colorado Public Radio reported.
It is the fourth time in two decades – after 2002, 2006 and 2012 – that the entire state has been classified as abnormally dry or in drought.
Tom Renwick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the state could return to pre-2020 figures as long as the winter provides some precipitation.
“If we get a decent winter, and it doesn’t have to be, ‘Oh my God, the most amazing winter ever,’ but a decent winter with a decent amount of snowfall, we’ll get rid of the drought,” Renwick said. “It looks really bad, but you know, I wouldn’t freak out just yet.”