We all know we’ve been cool and wet, but WOW!

It has been a wet winter and spring where we live. If you are in the continental United States, it’s been cool and wet where you live, too. This has been the wettest 12 months in the history of the United States. (https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/Wettest-12-Months-US-History)

According to NOAA’s drought monitor (https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/), almost no place in the US is currently in drought, which, if you follow these things, is pretty amazing.

Drought Map, Courtesy NOAA
The tan and yellow indicate that the area is drier than normal.

But here in Colorado, we have been really wet. How wet? Take a look at this:

This is the % of Normal Snow.

100% of Normal would be an average year — we are getting all the snow we normally do. So when it says that the San Juan Mountains are at 728% of normal that means they have over SEVEN TIMES as much snow as they normally do.

In Colorado, we tend to like the extra snow in the mountains; we view it as a bank account we can draw on — more is better.

But many farmers in the Midwest have yet to get into all their fields to plant this spring. The ground there is saturated, too muddy to support tractors, and the seeds might rot in the ground if they could plant. (https://weather.com/news/weather/news/2019-05-14-one-of-longest-lived-mississippi-river-floods-since-great-flood-1927)

The Mississippi River has been over flood stage since March. (https://weather.com/news/weather/news/2019-05-14-one-of-longest-lived-mississippi-river-floods-since-great-flood-1927)

Unfortunately, we better get used to it. Extremes in weather patterns are the new normal.

Get Out!

Looking back to make sure that winter didn’t reach out and take hold of us one last time, I almost missed that spring has arrived.

And what a spring it promises to be! Last September’s torrential rains dumped up to twenty inches of rain in some areas along the Colorado Front Range. Before the rains caused flooding that killed four people, cut off towns, and destroyed homes, it sank deep into the soil, saturating it ten feet deep.

 

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Sand lily, a common early bloomer in the foothills.

Although we had drying winds this winter, we also had cool to cold temperatures and small, evenly spaced snowstorms that kept the soil from drying out and replenished what did evaporate. The soil is still wet deep down. The rains from September are still with us, and this time they’re going to work for us.

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Golden banner grows from foothills to alpine. If you go up in altitude a little every week, you can watch this plant bloom throughout the summer.

Saturated soil and ongoing rainstorms mean that Colorado’s as wet as we’ve been in decades. And water in Colorado means wildflowers. The plants have had all winter to absorb the moisture, plumping up before the sun calls them forth.

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Tiny flowers on wax current shrubs. Wax currents are common in the mountains and foothills.

So get out and see the wildflowers. Often small, but extra abundant this year, they’ll never be as gorgeous as they are this spring.

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Pasque flower are another plant that is found from foothills through alpine. At lower elevations they bloom around Easter. Higher up, they bloom later.