#Drought news: D1 (Moderate Drought) expanded in SE #Colorado

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:


The week’s heaviest precipitation fell on a swath from central Arkansas and adjacent Missouri southeastward across the Gulf Coast states. Between 2 and 6 inches fell on most of this region, easing some areas of abnormal dryness. Meanwhile, heavy snow blanketed parts of Wyoming and adjacent locales, with nearly 3 feet piling up on some spots in the higher elevations. This precipitation, along with assessments of a variety of monthly data recently updated through March, led to broad reductions in the extent and severity of drought and dryness in much of the interior Northwest, northern Intermountain West, and northern half of the Rockies, though patches of severe drought remain. Sharply dry conditions abetted the persistence or worsening of dryness and drought in the southern Rockies and most of the Plains, with strong winds and low relative humidity exacerbating conditions in the southern Plains toward the end of the period. Changeable conditions, alternating between spring-like and wintery, brought moderate precipitation to the central Appalachians and Northeast which had no significant effect on the abnormally dry areas in that region…

The Northern Plains

Around an inch of rain in south-central North Dakota and adjacent South Dakota prompted the removal of D0 from that relatively small region, but only a few tenths of an inch at most fell on other areas from eastern Montana through central Minnesota, generally keeping dryness and drought intact and prompting deterioration in a few areas. Very little precipitation this past month induced some D0 expansion in northeastern Montana and a new area of moderate drought in part of central and western North Dakota. Part of southwestern North Dakota received less than half of normal precipitation during the last 60 days…

Southern Rockies and Plains

Several tenths of an inch of precipitation fell on parts of western and central Texas, but another week of little or no precipitation was observed in most areas from the southern Rockies into the central and south-central Plains. The showery weather relieved some of the D0 in western Texas, but farther north and west, abnormal dryness and moderate drought continued to expand. D0 conditions worsened to D1 in southern New Mexico, and D1 expanded across central and southern Kansas, southeastern Colorado, and part of Oklahoma. To the north and east, abnormal dryness expanded to cover southern Nebraska and enveloped additional areas in northern Kansas, northern Missouri, and west-central Illinois as well. Strong wind gusts reached tropical storm to minimal hurricane force, most significantly in the Oklahoma Panhandle. This, along with low humidity, stirred up dense dust storms in a few spots, and favored the development and rapid expansion of wildfires. One large fire in Oklahoma caused by arcing power lines burned more than 53,000 acres over the course of a few days in Woodland and Harper Counties…

The Central and Northern Intermountain West and Rockies

A potent late-season snowstorm blanketed large parts of Wyoming and some adjacent areas under at least a few inches of snow, with 15 to 35 inches covering some of the higher elevations in Fremont, Natrona, Lincoln, and Park Counties. This precipitation and favorable conditions during March led to a significant reduction in the coverage of abnormally dry conditions, and lesser dramatic reductions in the coverage of moderate to severe drought. Moderate drought was removed from the entire northeastern quarter of Oregon…

The Far West

Some changes were introduced across California and the Southwest despite the fact that little or no precipitation fell during the week. Improved reservoirs and surface moisture indicators led to the removal of exceptional drought (in favor of D3) in the Sacramento Valley. However, there was some increase in D1 and D2 coverage in southern Nevada. Drought improvement has been observed in significant parts of California this past wet season, but only a portion of northern California has been pulled completely out of drought, and large swaths of extreme to exceptional drought remain in Nevada and the southern half of California…

Looking Ahead

For the next 5 days (April 7 – 11, 2016) should feature a swath of moderate to heavy rain from central Kansas and eastern Oklahoma northeastward through the Ohio Valley, lower Great Lakes region, the Appalachians, and the Northeast. Totals are forecast to range from just under an inch to near 2.5 inches, with the largest amounts expected in and around central and southern Missouri, and across New England. Moderate precipitation is also anticipated in much of California, with at least half an inch forecast everywhere but the southeastern deserts and west-central sections of the state, and locally 1.5 to 3.5 inches in the higher elevations statewide. The southern half of Nevada and the higher elevations of Arizona are expecting 0.5 to locally 2.0 inches. In contrast, little precipitation is expected in the northern tier of the West and Rockies, along the High Plains, in the northern Great Plains, and near the Gulf of Mexico. Light to moderate amounts (up to several tenths of an inch) are expected elsewhere. It should be a warm 5 days for most of the Plains and central and northern sections of the Far West, with daily maxima averaging 10F to 15F above normal in the northern Intermountain West and adjacent Rockies. Conversely, unseasonably cold weather should dominate the East, with temperatures on average topping out 10F to 15F below normal from the upper Mississippi Valley, Great Lakes, and Northeast southward into the Ohio Valley, central Appalachians, and mid-Atlantic region.

The next 5 days (April 12 – 16, 2016) should bring drier than normal conditions to the Great Lakes, adjacent Midwest, and middle Mississippi Valley, but odds favor wetter-than-normal weather for a large swath of the nation, including the East (outside Florida), the Tennessee and lower Mississippi Valleys, much of the southern Great Plains, and all but the northern tier of the country from the High Plains to the West Coast. Enhanced chances for wet weather also exist across Alaska.

Deficit irrigation workshop offered in Morgan County — The Sterling Journal Advocate


From the CSU Extension Office (Wilma Trujillo) via The Sterling Journal Advocate:

Colorado State University Extension is offering a continuing education program on “Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods: Deficit irrigation monitoring.”

This hands-on experience workshop is aimed to educate and train crop producers, crop consultants, water managers, users and regulators on the principles, advantages and disadvantages (including limitations) of selected water management techniques to quantify water balance components and consumptive use under different deficit irrigation levels. Colorado State University Extension specialist, Dr. José Chávez, Dr. Allan Andales, Joel Schneeklot, and Dr. Aymm Elhaddad, will provide information on the methods to estimate and measure crop water use or evapotranspiration and how to use the techniques for managing deficit irrigation regimes and documenting water balance components.

This one-day water management technical program will be held at the Country Steak Out Restaurant in Fort Morgan on April 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The workshop offers 5 CEUs for certified crop advisor at no cost.

For registration, please contact the Morgan County Extension Office at 970 542-3540 or coopex_morgan@mail.colostate.edu or Wilma Trujillo at wilma.trujillo@ colostate.edu. Registration is free and lunch will be provided at no cost. Please RSVP by April 15; space and hand-outs are limited.

This program is sponsored by Colorado State University Extension, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Northern Water Conservancy District, West Greeley Conservation District and Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.

#Snowpack news: The April 1st #Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report is hot off the presses from the NRCS


Click here to read the report. Here’s an excerpt:

The beginning of March started off slow on the heels of a poor February but precipitation slowly ramped up, first in the northern half of the state then eventually working the wetter weather pattern throughout much of Colorado’s mountains. Unfortunately by the time the wet weather had impacted the southern mountains it was too little, too late, and also too warm. In some mountain locations, March precipitation was between 50 and 65 percent of normal and at lower elevations fell in the form of rain instead of snow. Snowpack at the lower elevations of the southern mountains have experienced snowpack melt since the beginning of March. The Dolores and San Juan River basins as a whole gained little additional snowpack since February 1, where the losses in snowpack at lower elevations nullified the accumulations at the higher elevations. Fortunately the northern portion of the state not only avoided the dry, warm weather but made considerable improvements beyond March 1 snowpack levels. Peak snowpack typically occurs in early to mid-April for much of Colorado, which means streamflows will likely begin to crescendo in the near future. This month’s forecasts are near normal in the Upper Colorado, North and South Platte watersheds but slightly below to below normal in all other basins.



#Colorado #Snowpack – Improvement in North, Deprecation in South — @USDA_NRCS

Here’s the release from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (Brian Domonkos):

After lackluster February precipitation, the month of March provided near normal increases for the state as a whole, with year-to-date precipitation on April 1st at 98 percent of normal. March weather patterns in Colorado favored the northern half of the state, but provided little accumulation in the southern half. Upon closer analysis of the underlying data, the map below shows that snowpack is near to slightly above normal in the Colorado, Yampa, White, North and South Platte River basins. However, in much of the Gunnison, Arkansas, Rio Grande and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins snowpack received minor accumulations and even experienced snowmelt at lower elevations, leading to below normal snowpack conditions in those southern basins.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 5.15.41 AM

“Snowpack improved markedly in the North Platte, Willow Creek (Colorado River) and Cache La Poudre River basins with increases of 17 percent or more in these watersheds. Unfortunately, some southern watersheds saw proportionate decreases in snowpack levels – the greater Arkansas, Rio Grande, San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins averaged nearly a 17 percent decrease in percent of median snowpack,” commented Brian Domonkos, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor.

Cumulative reservoir storage for Colorado has increased only minimally since last month and decreased as much as 4 percent in the Arkansas River watershed.

Domonkos went on to say, “Generally Colorado’s mountain snowpack typically peaks in the beginning of April. Without an abnormally cool or wet spring, snowpack should begin running off soon.”

Because various parts of the state are experiencing different weather patterns, streamflow predictions are ranging greatly. In general, water users and planners in southern basins should begin to expect 60 to 90 percent of normal runoff, while those in northern basins should expect 85 to 105 percent of normal runoff.


For more detailed information about individual Colorado watersheds or supporting water supply related information, have a look at the Colorado Water Supply Outlook Report or feel free to go to the Colorado Snow Survey website at:


Or contact Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor at Brian.Domonkos@mt.usda.gov or 720-544-2852.

EPA proposes Superfund for San Juan County — The Durango Herald

From The Durango Herald (Peter Marcus):

The recommendation will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, which sets off a 60-day public comment period before the rule can be finalized.

The proposal calls for adding eight new sites to the National Priorities List, including Bonita Peak Mining District in San Juan County.

The EPA recommended the site after Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter to federal officials in February backing the designation, which would inject large amounts of federal dollars into permanent restoration efforts. The action came in the wake of the Aug. 5 Gold King Mine spill.

Hickenlooper sent the letter to the EPA after Silverton and San Juan County expressed support for the listing.

“This is a crucial next step in making the region eligible for necessary resources and comprehensive cleanup efforts under EPA’s Superfund program, but our work is not done,” Hickenlooper said. “We are working with the EPA to ensure that adequate funding for this site is provided, including immediate interim measures and options to mitigate any further water quality deterioration.”

The listing would impact as many as 50 mining-related sites in the Gladstone area that have contaminated the Upper Animas, Mineral Creek and Cement Creek for more than a century.

Restoration efforts would likely include a permanent water-treatment facility, as well as long-term water quality monitoring…

Local officials, however, vow to closely watch the process, which could last for many years. They want a voice at the table and to ensure that boundaries of the proposed Superfund site don’t expand. Some also worry about blocking access to the backcountry.

Meanwhile, Hickenlooper on Wednesday renewed his support for Congress to pass Good Samaritan legislation, which would ease liability concerns for government and private entities to restore draining mines.

And the state Legislature on Wednesday advanced a bill that would allow the state to use emergency response funds for hazardous conditions at a legacy hard rock mine site that is a danger to the public. Currently, the state can only use those funds at mining sites subject to the state’s regulatory authority, so the bill would expand the state’s authority.

House Bill 1276 passed the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee unanimously without any conversation. It now heads to the full House for approval.

@NOAA: State of the Climate, March 2016


Click here to go to the NOAA website for the current State of the Climate. Here’s an excerpt:

March was 4th warmest for contiguous US

Lower 48 states had 3rd warmest year to date, and Alaska was record warm

The March temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 47.5°F, or 6.0°F above the 20th century average, the warmest since 2012. The January-March temperature was 39.7°F, 4.6°F above the 20th century average, also the warmest since 2012. The March precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.89 inches, 0.38 inch above the 20th century average. The January-March precipitation total was 6.92 inches, 0.04 inch below average.

This analysis of U.S. temperature and precipitation is based on data back to January 1895, resulting in 122 years of data.

U.S. climate highlights: March


Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average March temperature. Temperatures were much warmer than average across parts of the Rocky Mountains, Central and Northern Plains, Midwest, and along the East Coast. No state had a record warm March.

The Alaska March temperature was the sixth warmest on record at 18.6°F, 7.8°F above average. Record warmth was observed across southern parts of the state. The end of March was particularly warm for Alaska with several locations setting new March daily temperature records. On March 31, the temperature at Klawock in southeastern Alaska reached 71.0°F, the warmest March temperature ever observed in the state.


Above-average precipitation was observed along the West Coast, Midwest, Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi River Valley. Seven states were much wetter than average. Record-breaking rain events at both the beginning and end of March caused significant flooding across parts of the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Memphis, Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas, each had their wettest March on record with 16.20 inches and 12.33 inches of rain, respectively.

Below-average precipitation was observed across parts of the Southwest and Central Plains and along parts of the East Coast, where eight states were much drier than average. New Mexico had its driest March on record with 0.06 inch of precipitation, only 8 percent of average.

According to the March 29 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 15.1 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up about 0.8 percent compared to the beginning of March. Drought conditions improved across parts of the Northwest and Northern California, however, drought conditions continued to impact over 90 percent of California. Drought conditions worsened in the Southwest and parts of the Southern and Central Plains. Short-term drought created ideal wildfire conditions along the Oklahoma and Kansas border, where a grassland fire charred more than 400,000 acres, the largest wildfire on record in Kansas.

Eagle approves sales tax for river park project — The Denver Post

From The Denver Post (Jason Blevins):

Surf’s up in Eagle.

Eagle residents overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase to fund a river park project in a record-turnout election for the town.

The 20-year, half-percent sales tax increase to 4.5 percent will spark development of a $12 million riverpark project designed to transform a dirt parking lot used by truckers into a gateway for the growing town.

In a record turnout election for Eagle — spurred in part by an abundance of yard signs urging support for Ballot Question 1 — voters approved the measure 962 to 589. The project includes a whitewater park for kayakers and stand-up paddlers and terraced fields designed to lure passersby off Interstate 70 and into town. The hope is the project spurs mixed-use development on private land between the park and Eagle’s historic downtown.

“This is total validation for what’s going on right now in Eagle,” said Mayor Yuri Kostick, noting the proliferation of mountain bike trails that has elevated his town as a biking destination.

Kostick was heading over to the Bonfire Brewery, which served as an informal headquarters for river park supporters.

“It’s going to be such a sweet scene,” he said.

Eagle River
Eagle River