According the the US Drought Monitor, a weaker-than-normal monsoon, coupled with record 1-month evaporative demand due to high temperatures, have stressed vegetation and lowered streamflows in Colorado. Abnormally dry areas were trimmed slightly in eastern Colorado where it has been wet, but D2-D3 Severe and Extreme Drought areas expanded in the northwest to central region where precipitation deficits mounted and stream levels were low.
According to August 12 USDA reports, 59% of the pasture and rangeland in Colorado was in poor to very poor condition, and 42% of the topsoil was short or very short of moisture;
USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says rains are helping in other parts of the country.
As of mid month, Colorado was experiencing one of its most destructive fire seasons as 1,585 wildfires consumed more than 431,600 acres of forest and grasslands while destroying or damaging roughly 450 homes. Only in 2002 did more acres burn, when 926,502 acres were blackened, according to the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center in Lakewood. Five of Colorado's largest wildfires occurred in 2018, with experts blaming drought conditions like 2002. Firefighting costs neared $145 million through Aug. 15.