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As El Niño Weakens, Areas Of 'Pre-Drought' Grow Across Colorado

By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) - In a report released Thursday morning the National Weather Service said that El Niño was in the process of weakening and could be over by early summer.

El Niño is a phenomenon where a warming of the waters in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean can have significant impacts on the global weather pattern.

We've seen that this season with plenty of much needed rain and snow for California, flooding rainfall in Washington and Oregon and now in the mid-south.

Snow day Feb. 2, 2016
Heavy snowfall in Boulder on February 2. (credit: Lee Gilbert)

Mother Nature was very generous to Colorado between November and January with a series of soggy storm systems that brought above average snowfall to both the mountains and the Front Range.

But a dry weather pattern that developed after a heavy snow in early February has prevailed for several weeks, causing mountain snowpack to dwindle and the eastern plains to dry out.

(credit: CBS4/Colorado's Weather Center)

Some of the driest conditions can be found in the Arkansas River Valley east of Pueblo where pre-drought conditions are being experienced.

As of March 1 nearly 9% of Colorado was considered to be "abnormally dry" or in pre-drought. That number jumped to 14% by March 8.

It's a similar story in the mountains where snow is lagging behind during the most important month for snow accumulation in the central Rockies.

(credit: NRCS)

While there is certainly time for things to change Colorado could use a big, soggy, slow-moving storm system sooner rather than later.

Current long-range forecasts show the possibility of a weather maker by the middle to end of next week.

Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.

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