SAN LUIS VALLEY — In a dramatic turnaround, the San Luis Valley was hit with rain, snow and high winds after a week of high temperatures.
Temperatures are expected to rebound this weekend, returning to normal temperatures in the 70-degree range for the next 10 days.
While the cooler temperatures and much-needed moisture were a relief to most, the changing conditions impact agriculture in the Valley.
According to the USDA, “In the San Luis Valley, moisture late in the week brought a short-term reprieve to soil conditions, but halted fieldwork.”
Potato planting progressed well and is nearing completion, USDA reported. County reports noted the alfalfa crop was setback by cooler weather. The southeastern counties received some moisture last week, but drought conditions continue to worsen throughout the area.
As of May 8, the snowpack in Colorado was 60 percent measured as percent of median snowfall, up 5 percentage points from the previous week. The Southwest and San Luis Valley were 3 and 11 percent, respectively.
Stored feed supplies were rated 15 percent very short, 24 percent short, and 61 percent adequate. Sheep death loss was 70 percent average and 30 percent light. Cattle death loss was 79 percent average and 21 percent light, USDA reported.
The changing conditions helped to add to the local snowpack, however, drought conditions persist throughout the San Luis Valley, raising concerns about water shortages and wildfires.
A wildfire broke out recently near the Visitor’s Center for Great Sand Dunes National Park. The area has received rain and snow throughout the park and the Medano Pass areas during this storm.
Medano Creek has been low this year, however, the recent snow should alleviate this situation somewhat as it melts. The lower sections of Medano Pass received 2 to 5 inches of snow, rendering the pass difficult driving until the snow melts.