Western Slope seeing 'abnormally dry' conditions

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MESA COUNTY, Colo.- The hot and dry conditions in the Grand Valley come as no surprise for local residents. Recent storms however, have provided some relief to the dry conditions. Still, the rain is not enough to make a large difference.

Western Colorado is now falling under the category of 'abnormally dry' according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“It was 34 days that we didn't seen rain,” explained Aldis Strautnis, with the National Weather Service. “The rain does help, but it will take a number of storms to gain back what we didn't get in both the end of May and into June."

While the region is considered 'abnormally dry', that doesn’t mean we are in a drought just yet.

“It’s a pre-drought really,” Strautnis said. “It’s watching an area in case it’s ready to go into a drought."

Hydrologists say this year snowpack was about average if not above-average. Strautnis says reservoirs and streams in the region are also flowing heavily.

It’s the grasses and shrubs that they’re monitoring closely.

"We just are ready to watch what’s going on with the dryness,” Strautnis said.

The Bureau of Land Management says the little bit of rain the Valley has had, is not going to repair the amount of moisture lost in recent months.

"We’ve got dead fuels that take a long time to moisten back up,” explained Chris Joyner with the BLM.

The dry vegetation means that fire concerns remain high.

“We still have a high probability of extreme fire behavior and we have some very dangerous conditions,” Joyner said.

The BLM says the showers help, but can cause fine fire fuels like grasses, to ‘green up’.

“That means they'll be ready to burn for a second burn period later on in the summer,” he said.

The National Weather Service says 2013 was the last time the Grand Valley was officially facing a drought. They are predicting more storms to roll through next week.

Stage 1 fire restrictions are still in place for Mesa County.

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