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Climate and Drought

Colorado's Climate

Click the Fluent Water Facts below to learn more about Colorado's climate.

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Location, Location, Location

Colorado has several unique climate factors. It is in the interior of the continent, far away from the oceans or other large bodies of water that provide moisture. It straddles the crest of the continental divide, including the highest elevations of the Rocky Mountains. Colorado’s elevation is much higher than any other state in the U.S., with an average of 6,800 feet above sea level. Colorado is approximately halfway between the equator and the North Pole, where warm and cold air battle. Latitude, elevation, location, and topography work together to shape Colorado’s climate, resulting in our cool temperatures, sunny skies, and low precipitation.

Colorado’s Snow Quenches a Big Thirst

Fifty to 80 percent of the average annual precipitation in Colorado’s mountains falls as snow.  Snow is essentially the state's biggest reservoir - as long as it's frozen.  Cold, high-elevation landscapes holds moisture frozen longer, usually releasing stored water in April, May, and June.  Melting snow provides upwards of 80 percent of Colorado’s surface water supplies.

Substantial winter storms are crucial for Colorado’s water – if we miss big storms, especially over eastern and southern Colorado, drought can follow. Changes to Colorado’s snowpack will have enormous consequences not only for Colorado but also for the eighteen other states that use water from our shared rivers.

CFWE explores Colorado's Crazy Climate and how it may change in the future through the following videos.


WEco Climate Resources

Guide to Colorado Climate Change presents a range of contemporary climate change information written by experts. Take a look.

Water 101 Sheets are one-page references available for download and distribution. Explore the basics of drought, and wildfire or read various water conservation tips through a series of fact sheets. Interested in additional resources? Find them herefact_sheetsClimate Workshop
Participants tour the National Ice Core Lab, hear how researchers study climate and what that means locally. Learn more.

Connecting the Drops Radio

Listen to a radio feature on climate change's effects on Colorado farmers, spring runoff, and irrigation.

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