December 1, 2011--Drought lingers in Southern Colorado (Pueblo Chieftain)

Drought that began 16 months ago persists in Southeastern Colorado. Baca County is in extreme drought, while much of the Lower Arkansas Valley and the Rio Grande basin are in severe drought, according to the latest assessment by the  U.S. Drought Monitor. The state has activated an agricultural impact task force as the drought moves into its second growing season. About one-third of the state is still in some stage of drought, and the task force looks at potential impacts on agriculture. At one point, the task force was meeting on a weekly basis, and several counties were declared eligible for disaster relief. Last year, near-record snowpack in the Rocky Mountains produced ample spring runoff to save many irrigated crops, but there were severe losses of dryland crops and large numbers of cattle were sold off as the drought worsened. The drought eased in Northeastern Colorado when rains returned in September and October. However rainfall was 35-60 percent of average in the Arkansas and Rio Grande valleys. At Walsh, a new record low for precipitation was recorded during the autumn months.

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