Snowpack/drought news: Beaver Creek gets four inches #codrought #cowx

From the National Weather Service Grand Junction office:

…SIGNIFICANT NEW SNOW RECEIVED ACROSS THE SOUTHERN MOUNTAINS…

THE FOLLOWING ARE PRELIMINARY 24 HOUR SNOWFALL AMOUNTS, AS ESTIMATED USING READINGS FROM AUTOMATED SNOW MEASURING EQUIPMENT SCATTERED THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS OF EASTERN UTAH AND WESTERN COLORADO. THE SNOW FELL DURING THE 24 HOUR PERIOD ENDING AT 3 AM SUNDAY MORNING. ESTIMATED AMOUNTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

THE SOUTHWEST COLORADO MOUNTAINS…5 TO 15 INCHES, WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS.

THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL MOUNTAINS OF WESTERN COLORADO…2 TO 7 INCHES.

THE SOUTHEAST UTAH MOUNTAINS…8 TO 12 INCHES.

THE NORTHERN AND CENTRAL MOUNTAINS OF EASTERN UTAH…UP TO 3 INCHES.

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

With the state’s agriculture industry coming off a year of historic drought and entering 2013 with limited snowpack, Colorado Farm Show officials have little doubt as to what will be the most popular topics at this year’s event. “I think it’s safe to say the guys here will be wanting to know more about the weather and the water situation,” said Tony Miller, secretary/treasurer for the Colorado Farm Show’s board of directors that puts on the three­day event in Greeley — one of the largest agricultural trade shows in the U.S. “Everything that’s going on here is interesting. But nothing in agriculture works without water.”
Last year was the hottest and driest year on record in Greeley, according to the Colorado Climate Center, and this week, statistics from the Natural Resources Conservation Service showed statewide snowpack was 61 percent of historic average for this time of the year.

In the South Platte River Basin, snowpack was 55 percent of average. The region’s farmers and ranchers depend heavily on winter and spring snowpack in the mountains that eventually melts and provides runoff to fill irrigation ditches during the growing season.

With that in mind, Colorado Farm Show officials scheduled three programs this year devoted solely to weather and water talks. Last year, following an unusually wet 2011, there was just the annual weather­outlook program. This year’s farm show will include the Drought Roundtable Discussion on Tuesday, featuring Bill Curran, research scientist with Pioneer Hybrids International in LaSalle; Troy Bauder, a Colorado State University Extension water­quality specialist; Erik Wardle, a CSU Extension assistant water­ quality specialist; and Neil Hansen, an associate professor of soil science and cropping systems at CSU.
On Wednesday, Nolan Doesken with the Colorado Climate Center will give his annual weather outlook, and on Thursday Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar and Colorado Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Ron Carleton will give the “State of the Union Address Regarding Colorado’s Water Issues.”

In addition to weather and water talks, the Colorado Farm Show also will feature discussions on media, technology, economics, livestock welfare and other topics. But farm show officials can predict with a fair amount of certainty which experts will speak to a full house. “We expect those guys to draw the crowds,” Miller said of the weather and water experts on tap for next week. “I don’t think there’s any doubt what’s on everybody’s minds.”

From The Denver Post (Joey Bunch):

“We are, at this point, just waiting for spring,” said state climatologist Nolan Doesken, head of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. “If we don’t get a big spring storm or two, summer is a problem.”[...]

Because of the three-year drought, hay now costs about $300 a ton, roughly twice the usual price. Stanger, who represented Standlee Hay Co. at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo this week, said the long-term impact to his customers costs more than the windfall…

So far, long-term weather indicators for the West are inconclusive, Doesken said.
“That’s better than an indication for ongoing drought, but it basically says we don’t know,” he said…

Doesken finds some hope in history. In 2002, a dry, windy spring killed crops and fueled fires across the state. But farming bounced back somewhat the next year, especially after the March 2003 blizzard left 31 inches of snow on Denver, the most from one storm in 90 years…

“It’s hard to be optimistic when they can’t get a good forecast from Nolan Doesken and any of the others, who can’t give you a good forecast unless they can,” Hanavan said. “You just have to hope they’re wrong.”

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