The climate across Colorado ranges from the mountains to the high plains to the desert. We’ve covered the Top Rainiest Cities, the Top Windiest Cities, and the Top Cities at Risk of Flooding. But there are also serious challenges in our state on the dry side of things.
It’s estimated that each year in the U.S., droughts cause an average of $9.5 billion in damages from destroyed crops, cracked highways, and damaged bridges. There are also water shortages along with an increased risk of wildfires.
Closer to home, dry weather can cause significant damage to foundations. That includes settlement, cracks, and heaving of basement, crawl space, and slab foundations.
We’ve sifted through the data to find the driest towns in Colorado based on average annual rainfall. Then we’ve taken a closer look at the drought conditions in our state. All of that is followed by how you can prevent foundation damage to your home.
Driest Towns in Colorado: Average Annual Rainfall
The information at City-Data shows these 20 cities with the lowest average annual rainfall in the state. This listing includes only those cities with populations of 6,000 or more.
Ranking, City, Average Annual Rainfall in Inches
|11||St. Charles Mesa||12.5|
Drought Conditions in Colorado
The U.S. Drought Monitor provides a weekly update on drought conditions throughout the nation. Here we’ve selected the current drought map for Colorado.
You can readily see that very serious drought conditions exist in the western part of our state. Here are the percentages of the state affected as of April 2021.
Drought Conditions, Percent of State Affected
Every part of the state has at least some level of drought conditions.
Dry Conditions in Our Hometowns
The annual rainfall in Colorado Springs averages 18.6 inches. Even so, most of El Paso County is currently in a severe drought condition. The average annual rainfall in Denver is 17 inches, yet it is currently in a moderate drought condition. Plus, many areas around it are in severe drought conditions.
How to Prevent Foundation Damage During a Drought
We’re used to thinking about rain and flood damage to basements and crawl spaces. But dry and drought conditions can be just as damaging.
The soil around your foundation can expand with wet and rainy weather. Then as dry conditions set in, it will contract. Heavy moisture results in heaving that can cause cracks in the foundation, while dry conditions result in settling with just as much potential for cracking and further damage.
Here are ways to protect your foundation and your yard during a drought.
- Install a sprinkler system. A sprinkler system can fill in the water gaps during dry conditions. Work with experts to get the zones and sprinkler heads set up correctly to provide the needed moisture around your lawn and along your foundation. Use a smart controller to adjust the water flow based on recent rainfall along with changing temperature.
- Trim trees and shrubs. Trees can provide shade, but they also send out roots seeking water during dry spells. Those roots, along with roots from shrubbery, can lead to drying soil around your foundation and even physical damage due to expanding roots under the foundation. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed and watch for roots near the foundation.
- Install a drainage system. If you don’t currently have an interior or exterior drainage system for your basement or crawl space, now is a great time to install them. While it’s difficult to imagine excess water during drought conditions, here in Colorado we get our fair share of thunderstorms. That water rushing off the roof can find its way into your basement or crawl space. Now is the time to get ready to avoid flooding.
- Check gutters, downspouts, and landscaping. It’s also a good time to make sure your gutters and downspouts are sized correctly to carry the water that runs off your roof when it does arrive after dry conditions. See our article Calculating the Importance of Gutters and Drainage for more information. Remove leaves and clear obstructions as well as repair any damage on a regular basis. Landscaping should also slope away from the foundation to help prevent flooding.
Dry weather and drought can cause just as much damage to your foundation as excess rain and flooding.
As you take steps to protect your home, we recommend that you consult the professionals at Complete Basement Systems for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your foundation, basement, or crawl space that need attention in our drought conditions.