More snow same adventure – Denver Water crews measure snowpack

April 4, 2014

Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

Tracking snowpack is a vital part of managing Denver Water’s water supply. But, with sample sites in remote locations throughout our watersheds, this is no easy task.

Take a journey with Jay Adams, from Denver Water’s Communications and Marketing Department, as he joins Denver Water crews to take on this adventurous mission.

Per Olsson, Jones Pass caretaker; Brian Clark, equipment operator; Tim Holinka, assistant district foreman on the Arrow snow course near Winter Park.

Per Olsson, Jones Pass caretaker; Brian Clark, equipment operator; Tim Holinka, assistant district foreman on the Arrow snow course near Winter Park.

What a difference a year makes in snowpack levels

By Jay Adams

It’s a trek not many people take, but one that provides critical information to more than 1 million people. The journey begins just below the Continental Divide in a Trooper Snow Cat. The ride leads up the side of a mountain, past a group of snowmobilers and two wandering moose. Onboard the Snow Cat heading into the forest are Denver Water employees Brian Clark, equipment operator; Tim…

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New Leadership is Growing

March 31, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

Class of 2014 during their March training with CFWE and MORF Consulting in Greeley

Class of 2014 with CFWE and MORF Consulting in Greeley

CFWE is proud to announce our 2014 class of Water Leaders! This diverse and talented group of mid-level water professionals have started a journey to develop their leadership potential. The first training on March 17-18 focused on self-awareness and functional team-building. The group also examined how regional leaders have effectively built water teams in northeastern Colorado by numerous guest presentations and excursions at the Poudre Learning Center in Greeley.  Subsequent trainings will be in Fraser on May 15-16, Pueblo on July 31-August 1 and Denver on September 18-19. Join us in welcoming them to your community!

Congratulations to:
Jason Carey, River Restoration
Adam Cwiklin, Town of Fraser
Aaron Derwingson, The Nature Conservancy
Julia Galucci, Colorado Springs Utilities
James Henderson, 711 Ranch
Dawn Jewell, City of Aurora
Laurna Katz, Denver Water
Aimee Konowal, CDPHE Water Quality Control Division
Steve Malers, Open…

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Watering restrictions not part of the picture this season

March 31, 2014
Statewide snowpack map March 27, 2014 via the NRCS

Statewide snowpack map March 27, 2014 via the NRCS


As Big As It Gets: Clean Water Act Rulemaking

March 31, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Mark Scharfenaker

Everyone seriously interested in water quality throughout the United States has 90 days to let EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers and federal lawmakers know what they think about the agency’s newly proposed rule intended to clarify just where in a watershed the protections of the Clean Water Act cease to apply.

This long-awaited rulemaking aims to define CWA jurisdiction over streams and wetlands distant from “navigable” waters of the United States…the lines of which were muddied by recent Supreme Court rulings rooted in a sense that perhaps EPA and the Corps had strayed too far in requiring CWA dredge-and-fill permits for such “waters” as intermittent streams and isolated potholes.

This rule is as big as it gets in respect to protecting waterways from nonfarm pollutant discharges, and the proposal has not calmed the conflict between those who want the jurisdictional line closer to navigable waters and…

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Water Books from the Board of Trustees

February 13, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

The CFWE Board meets three times per year across Colorado

The CFWE Board meets three times per year across Colorado.  Here we are in Jan. 2014 at the Ralph Carr Justice Center in Denver.

CFWE is blessed to have a diverse and helpful Board of Trustees.  All 22 of them are committed to making CFWE the best water education organization in the state of Colorado, and I greatly appreciate their expertise and guidance.  Its not surprising that they, like our staff, are a bunch of “water geeks” who spend countless hours in their personal and professional lives thinking about our most important resource.

At each of our three yearly Board meetings, our Board Development Committee Chair, Chris Treese, does a round of introductions so we can learn a bit about each other.  At our January meeting, the question asked of each member was “What is your favorite water-related book?”  This was such a great list, I wanted to share it…

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Summit County snowfall near average through December

January 13, 2014

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

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January snowfall in Summit County, Colorado.

2013 ended up as 2d-wettest on record for Dillon weather station

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A quarter of the way through the 2014 water year (which started Oct. 1, 2013), snowfall and precipitation in Summit County are just about average, according to data from the two official National Weather Service observation sites.

In Breckenridge, long-time weather watcher Rick Bly measured 27.3 inches of snow in December, just a bit more than the long-term average of 22.4 inches. But the water equivalent in that snow was just 1.43 inches, slightly below the average 1.51 inches, Bly said.

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Swiss study shows big changes in distribution of alpine species in response to global warming

January 13, 2014

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Research documents rapid upward shift of plant communities

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Swiss researchers document global warming impacts to alpine ecosystems. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Swiss researchers taking a close look at the effect of global warming say that plants, birds and butterflies sprinted uphill by anywhere from eight to 42 meters between 2003 and 2010 — a significant shift in a very short time, according to the study published

Swiss plants, butterflies and birds have moved 8 to 42 meters uphill between 2003 and 2010, as scientists from the University of Basel write in the online journal Plos One. Other research has shown that, in general, European bird and butterfly communities have moved on average 37 and 114 kilometers to the north, respectively.

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Climate=change denialism: Follow the money?

December 23, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

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Fossil fuel companies and conservative foundations continue to pour millions of dollars into politically and economically motivated efforts to deny climate science.

Study finds that most funding for anti-science groups can’t be traced to specific donors

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Even though climate scientists are in near total agreement about how and why Earth is steadily heating up, the political arguments over global warming continue — in large part because a well-funded disinformation network is deliberately peddling half-truths, twisted facts and even outright lies.

Since a lot of the money flows through back channels and cover organizations, it’s not always easy to tell exactly who is paying for what. But that all just got a bit easier after some detailed analysis by Drexel University environmental sociologist Dr. Robert J. Brulle. In a peer-reviewed study, Brulle looked the sources of funding that maintain the effort to deny climate science.

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Water Leadership

December 21, 2013

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Dana Strongin, 2013 Water Leaders graduate and Denver Water employee

water leaders 1st training

The thesaurus entry for “leadership” describes a person who is a guide – a pilot or conductor.

Based on that depiction, it might seem that the water-related equivalent would be a captain, but after completing the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s 2013 Water Leaders program, I contend that a true leader can be anybody on the crew.

After all, it takes many dedicated leaders to run an effective ship – a fact that also stands true in the world of Colorado water.

That’s one reason Water Leaders was so worthwhile. My classmates hailed from diverse organizations, interests and supervisory ranks, yet they all exemplified leadership in some way.

Throughout the year, we openly explored and discussed the challenges, successes and goals we encountered in our work and home lives.

To truly gain from these discussions, we also had…

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‘Heatwave’ at South Pole sets records

December 20, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

More record-warm Antarctica temperatures recorded in September

Global weirding? Antarctic sea ice hits record highs and South Pole sees record high temps. bberwyn photo.

Global weirding? Antarctic sea ice hits record highs and South Pole sees record high temps. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While scientists recently pinpointed areas with all-time record low temperatures in Antarctica, the South Pole is not immune to global warming — scientists based at the bottom of the world say the past winter was the warmest since record-keeping started in 1957.

In August, for example, the average temperature for the month was more than 11 degrees Fahrenheit above average, at minus 63.9 degrees Fahrenheit.

The trend continued into the Austral spring, with September 2013 also ending up as an all-time record warm month, including four daily maximum temperature records, according to the Antarctic Sun.

That’s not to say the weather was balmy — the average annual temperature at the South Pole is about minus 56.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest…

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How to grow more and use less

December 17, 2013

Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

This guest blog post from Denver Urban Gardens is part of our Transforming Landscapes series, introducing fresh, new ideas for upgrading your lawn to a more water-efficient landscape. To help you think outside the box when planning for your landscape transformation next spring, also check out:

How to grow more and use less

Denver Urban Gardens is a nonprofit organization that builds and supports food-producing community gardens throughout metro Denver. Founded in 1985, the DUG network now includes 125 community gardens, plus an additional seven gardens owned by DUG.

Denver Urban Gardens only owns a small percentage of the gardens in our network. Working with partner agencies to secure land for community gardens allows DUG to keep the cost…

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Water Quality in and off the press

November 22, 2013

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

NEW WQ Cover

CFWE’s updated Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Quality Protection is HOT off the press. Order your copy today!

CNN just named their Hero of the Year… and he happens to be, what some have referred to as ‘the rivers’ garbageman’. Congratulations to Chad Pregracke! From the article:

For nine months out of the year, Pregracke lives on a barge with members of his 12-person crew. They go around the country with a fleet of boats, and they try to make cleanup fun for the volunteers who show up in each city.

It’s good to see a water quality warrior getting some major press. And, get this, CFWE’s second edition Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Quality Protection is hot off the press! We’ve been clear out of stock of our popular Water Quality Guide for about a year, but at long last you can now purchase and view an updated…

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The Amazing Arkansas River

November 20, 2013

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Tom Pelikan, The Arkansas River Coalition

The headwaters of the Arkansas River near Lead...

The headwaters of the Arkansas River near Leadville, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Arkansas is an amazing river, from the mountains near Leadville, across the plains east of I-25 into western Kansas, around the Great Bend and south to Wichita and through Kaw Lake into Oklahoma, then to Tulsa where it becomes a navigable river with ocean-going barges all the way through Arkansas to the Mississippi. Learn how an interstate compact divides the Arkansas’ waters between states.

It’s America’s sixth-longest river at right around 1,469 miles with two of the top 20, the 13th, the Canadian and the 20th, the Cimarron, flowing into it, with a seven-state watershed, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. As you’d expect with such a big river system, it has incredible biological, agricultural, recreational and historical diversity.

Conifers of all sorts…

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Veterans Day: Thank you veterans for your service

November 11, 2013
Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Thanks for your service protecting our freedoms.


Climate: So much for the cosmic ray theory

November 9, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

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Solar activity only a minor factor in global warming

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The sun’s activity is only a minor factor in 20th century global warming, a new study once again confirms, shooting down one of the red-herring arguments put forth by climate science deniers.

At most, solar cycles have contributed no more than 10 per cent to global warming in the last century. The findings, made by Professor Terry Sloan at the University of Lancaster and Professor Sir Arnold Wolfendale at the University of Durham, find that neither changes in the activity of the Sun, nor its impact in blocking cosmic rays, can be a significant contributor to global warming.

“Our paper reviews our work to try and find a connection between cosmic rays and cloud formation with changes in global temperature,” Sloan said. “We conclude that the level of contribution of changing solar activity is…

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Climate: El Niño unusually active in 20th century

October 30, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

New study may help show how El Niño will respond to global warming

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Tracking El Niño …

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Powerful El Niño events during recent decades are outside the norm of the last 600 years, climate researchers said this week, after finding that the cycles of warmer-than-average sea surface temps in the equatorial Pacific appear linked to global temperatures.

“Our new estimates of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) activity of the past 600 years appear to roughly track global mean temperature,” said Shayne McGregor, of the University of New South Wales. “But we still don’t know why.”

The team of climate scientists, including researcher with the University of Hawaii International Pacific Research Center and the NOAAGeophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, said their findings (published in Climate of the Past) help resolve some of the uncertainties surrounding historic ENSO cycles, which can trigger flooding…

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Bad ass picture of the lightning over the Grand Canyon via @SciencePorn

October 29, 2013

Climate: Study links rainy European summers with dwindling Arctic sea ice

October 29, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

A NASA satellite image shows Arctic sea ice.

A NASA satellite image shows Arctic sea ice . Image courtesy NASA.

Changes in the Arctic likely to have widespread hemispheric impacts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new climate study by scientists at the University of Exeter (UK) adds to the growing body of research looking at the hemispheric impacts of dwinding Arctic sea ice.

The findings suggest that that the loss of ice shifts the jet stream farther south, bringing increased summer rainfall to northwestern Europe, but drier conditions to the Mediterranean region. The study could offer an explanation for the extraordinary run of wet summers experienced by Britain and northwest Europe between 2007 and 2012.

In another recent study, scientists with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science found that as sea ice disappeared, the areas of relatively warm open water began to strongly influence the atmosphere, increasing surface temperatures in the region, and…

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Baffin Island study shows skyrocketing Arctic temperatures

October 25, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

‘The warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere …’

Baffin Island's ice caps are melting fast. Photo courtesy NASA.

Baffin Island ‘s ice caps are melting fast under an unprecedented regime of global warming, according to a new CU-Boulder study: Photo courtesy NASA.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After radiocarbon dating samples of moss at the edge of melting ice caps on Baffin Island, scientists said there’s little doubt that current warming in the Arctic is unprecedented, even on a geological time scale.

Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, according to a University of Colorado Boulder study.

“The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” said CU-Boulder geologist

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EPA: Some plastics contain BPA: chemicals that may affect children’s health. Choose safer plastics.

October 25, 2013

Global warming: USGS study shows 20 percent decline in Rocky Mountain snow cover since 1980

October 24, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

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Sparse January snow across the Colorado Plateau in January 2013. Bob Berwyn photo.

Drop linked primarily with warmer spring temperatures

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Long-time skiers often say that skiing was better in the good old days, and new research from the U.S. Geological Survey suggests that those claims are based on more than nostalgia — notwithstanding the occasional bumper crop of powder like in 2010-2011.

After taking an in-depth look at snowfall and temperature records, federal scientists said warmer spring temperatures since the 1980s have caused an estimated 20 percent loss of snow cover across the Rocky Mountains of western North America — especially at lower elevations where temperatures have the greatest effect.

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Global warming: Researchers document profound cascading ecological effects as Rocky Mountain snowpack diminishes

October 24, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Winter browsing by elk results in decline of habitat for songbirds

Dwindling Rocky Mountain snowpack is having unexpected impacts to a wide range of plants and animals, according to a new study.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A steady decline in Rocky Mountain snowpack the past few decades has led to a classic cascading ecological effect, with “powerful” shifts in mountainous plant and bird communities, according to scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Montana.

“This study illustrates that profound impacts of climate change on ecosystems arise over a time span of but two decades through unexplored feedbacks,” said USGS director Marcia McNutt. “The significance lies in the fact that humans and our economy are at the end of the same chain of cascading consequences.”

As the high-elevation snowpack dwindles, elk can stay at higher elevations during the winter and browse on plants that just a few short decades were inaccessible during the snow season, the researchers explained in their study, published Jan. 8 in…

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What happens in the Arctic does NOT stay in the Arctic

October 23, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Ocean currents originating near the poles drives tropical rainfall

At the left is observations of average annual precipitation. The right is simulated precipitation with ocean conveyor-belt circulation turned off. Credit: D. Frierson, UW

At the left is observations of average annual precipitation. The right is simulated precipitation with ocean conveyor-belt circulation turned off.
Credit: D. Frierson, University of Washington.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Rainfall amounts in the tropics may be influenced by ocean currents originating thousands of miles away, in polar regions, according to an international team of climate scientists trying to track down how global warming might affect precipitation in different regions.

Most tropical rains fall in the northern hemisphere — Palmyra Atoll, at 6 degrees north, gets 175 inches of rain a year, while comparable locations at similar latitudes south of the equator only get 45 inches annually.

Scientists have long thought that this was due to a quirk in the Earth’s geometry — with the spin of the Earth pushing tropical rain bands north across diagonally tilted ocean…

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Morning photo: October

October 16, 2013

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Slipping toward winter …

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I never get tired of this …

FRISCO — Some chilly and soggy October days are giving a clear indication that we’re rapidly slipping into our cold season. That’s not to say we won’t have a few weeks of Indian Summer going into the second half of what is usually our driest month. But for now, button up, grab your beanie and head out to enjoy the last few days of changing aspen leaves — Farewell, autumn, we hardly knew you! And please visit our online gallery at FineArt America for a great selection of Summit County landscape images.

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H2O Outdoors

October 15, 2013

Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

David Miller

David Miller

By David Miller, school programs director for Keystone Science School. He has a passion for water education and getting students to experience the outdoors.

When H2O Outdoors began four years ago, I never imagined we would have the partners and diversity of students that are in the program today. By being open to any high school student in Colorado, the program brings in a wide variety of perspectives that contribute to the overarching process of learning from each other, collaborating in a fictional decision-making process, and helping students learn the ways adults in the water field must work together to solve complex water problems throughout the state.

 

History

H2O Outdoors began with an idea and evolved into an award-winning program. The partnership between Keystone Science School and the Colorado River District started with the mission to engage high school students with the study of water management and…

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CMU: 2013 Upper Colorado River Basin Water Conference November 6-7, 2013 #ColoradoRiver

October 14, 2013
Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands -- Graphic/USBR

Colorado River Basin including out of basin demands — Graphic/USBR

Click here for the pitch. From the website:

Sharing Experiences Across Borders

Topics will include:

  • Understanding and Using Water Suppy and Streamflow Information
  • Following up on the Colorado River Basin Supply & Demand Study: Report from Work Groups
  • Agricultural Experiences and Challenges Across the Upper Basin
    The Navajo Water Rights Settlement
  • Should changes be made in inter-state water administration?
  • Bonus: “Water Law in a Nutshell” class by Atty Aaron Clay on Nov. 8


    The latest climate briefing from the Western Water Assessment is hot off the presses

    October 14, 2013

    US Drought Monitor October 8, 2013

    US Drought Monitor October 8, 2013


    Click here to go to the climate dashboard. Scroll down for the new stuff. Here’s an excerpt:

    September Precipitation and Temperatures, and Current Drought

    September ended the 2013 water year on a very wet note across the region, with most of the region receiving at least 200% of normal precipitation, and only a few small areas seeing drier-than-normal conditions Western US Seasonal Precipitation. The last month with comparable wet anomalies across the region was December 2007. A persistent rain event from September 9th–17th, caused by a late monsoonal surge from the south reinforced in eastern Colorado by very moist upslope flow, brought most of the month’s precipitation, including extraordinary totals for Boulder, Colorado (9″ in 24 hours; 17” in seven days) and the surrounding area. (See the WWA’s preliminary assessment of the Front Range rain event and the severe flooding it caused.)

    Other areas with over 5” of precipitation for the month included far southeastern Wyoming, south-central Utah, the Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah, the southeastern Yellowstone Plateau, and the San Juans in southwestern Colorado.

    With this late surge, the final HPRCC Water Year Precipitation map Western US Seasonal Precipitation for 2013 showed that the previously scattered areas with above-average precipitation since October 1 have enlarged and merged, covering perhaps one-third of the three-state region, with the wettest areas in northeastern Colorado, southern Utah, and northern Wyoming. But, as in the 2012 water year, most of the region still ended up drier than normal.

    Despite all the precipitation, the temperatures in SeptemberWestern US Seasonal Precipitation were warmer than average across the region, except in parts of western Utah and western Colorado. Most areas were 1–6°F above monthly average temperatures for September.

    The latest US Drought Monitor, representing conditions as of October 1 Modeled Soil Saturation Index, shows significant and widespread improvement in the persistent drought conditions, by one to three categories, compared to one month ago. The most dramatic improvements were in northeastern Colorado, where up to D2 drought conditions were brought to normal, and in southwestern Colorado, where D3 drought improved to D0 Modeled Soil Saturation Index. The proportion of Colorado in D2 or worse drought dropped from 60% on September 3 down to 12% on October 1; in Utah, 54% down to 16%; and in Wyoming, 48% to 22%. Region-wide, the overall drought extent and severity is now lower than it has been since April 2012.


    Study: Drought the prime driver of spruce beetle outbreak

    October 13, 2013

    Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

    Long-term climate shifts linked with historic spruce beetle episodes in Colorado

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    A Colorado spruce forest near Shrine Pass, Colorado.

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    Spruce beetles are spreading rapidly and killing trees in the southern Rockies.

    By Summit Voice

    FRISCO — The current spruce beetle outbreak in Colorado’s high country has the potential to grow larger in scope than the recent mountain pine beetle epidemic that killed mature lodgepole pines across millions of acres.

    And the trigger of for the spruce beetles is drought that’s linked with long-term changes in sea-surface temperatures in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, a trend that is expected to continue for decades, according to a new study by scientists with the University of Colorado, Boulder.

    The new study is important because it shows that drought is a better predictor of spruce beetle outbreaks in northern Colorado than temperature alone, said Sarah Hart, a CU-Boulder doctoral student in geography.

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    Environment: Plastic pollution found in mountain lakes

    October 12, 2013

    Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

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    Lake Garda, Italy. Photo courtesy NASA.

    Toxic materials a concern for freshwater ecosystems

    By Summit Voice

    FRISCO — By now, everyone has heard about the giant ocean eddies of plastic debris — the final resting place, as it were, for the detritus of our throw-away society. As it turns out, the ocean isn’t the only place that’s been polluted by human thoughtlessness.

    German scientists say their recent study of Lake Garda, a subalpine lake at the southern edge of the Italian Alps, is also polluted with potentially hazardous plastics. The findings are a warming sign that many other freshwater lakes may be similarly polluted, and that those tiny microplastics are likely finding their way into the food web through a wide range of freshwater invertebrates, too.

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    Washed out: Denver Water recovers from floods

    October 11, 2013

    Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

    By Ann Baker, Communications and Marketing

    Water cascades down the spillway at Gross Reservoir a week after the floods tore through the area.

    Water cascades down the spillway at Gross Reservoir a week after the floods tore through the area.

    The first night it started flooding, the caretakers, who live and work at Gross Reservoir climbed the hill and stayed awake most of the night, watching Advent Creek swarm their houses and office.

    They tried to sleep the second night, “but we were too busy watching that garage door — that was our gauge for the water level,” said caretaker Steve Bauman.

    When one of the worst storms in Colorado history submerged the Front Range in mid-September, it tore through the northern part of Denver Water’s collection system, forcing two treatment plants offline, reservoirs to swell and access roads to crumble in half.

    The storm bumped up water storage 6 percentage points, the largest September increase in our current supply system’s history, said Bob Peters, water resource…

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    Colorado weather: Soggy September

    October 10, 2013

    Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

    Near-record rainfall at Dillon and Breckenridge

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    It was that kind of month …

    By Bob Berwyn

    FRISCO — If September felt a little soggy, it wasn’t just your imagination. The official  stats from the two National Weather Service observation sites in Summit County show that it was a month for the record books.

    At Dillon, there was measurable precipitation on two out of every three days, totaling to 3.86 inches of water in what is usually one of the driest months of the year. And in Breckenridge, longtime weather observer Rick Bly measured 3.35 inches of precipitation, tied with 1908 as the second-wettest September of all time based on records going back to the late 1800s. Only September 1961 was wetter, with 3.74 inches of water.

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    Streamflows in the #ColoradoRiver Basin in recent years are a cause for concern

    October 5, 2013
    Colorado River -- photo via Wikipedia

    Colorado River — photo via Wikipedia

    Here’s a report about the recent Colorado River District annual seminar from Hannah Holm writing for the Vail Daily. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

    I wasn’t actually at the meeting — I was held up near Denver by landslides — but I recently caught some of the presentations on video, and so can you. The Colorado River District, which organized the meeting, has made videos of the presentations available on the Web at http://www.crwcd.org/. Slides shown by presenters are also posted there.

    Colorado River District Manager Eric Kuhn set the stage for the day’s discussions with a few basic observations about the Colorado River Basin that are fundamental to understanding the challenges involved in trying to meet the needs of everyone who relies on the river: 35 million people (and growing) with 5.5 million acres of irrigated land in seven states, 10 autonomous/sovereign Native American tribes and two countries. He didn’t even have to mention the fish, cottonwoods, ski resorts or rafters to make the challenge sound daunting.

    Kuhn pointed out that between 2000-13, natural flow into the Colorado River system above the Hoover Dam was 180 million acre-feet, while total water use from the basin was 210 million acre-feet, leading to a drawdown of 30 million acre-feet of water stored in reservoirs. And the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study (Basin Study) released late last year forecast that demands are likely to keep growing.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that disaster lies around the next bend, but it might…

    Other seminar speakers elaborated on this overall theme of shrinking supplies and growing demands, with presentations on our shrinking Rocky Mountain snowpack, dropping water levels in Lake Powell, Las Vegas strategies to adapt to dropping water levels in Lake Mead, innovative urban water conservation strategies and the challenges involved in planning to meet growing water needs within Colorado.

    These issues show no signs of going away any time soon, and how they are resolved will have far-reaching implications for the whole region’s economy, environment and quality of life. Reviewing the presentations from the River District’s seminar will leave you well prepared to understand what’s going on and what’s at stake, and to add your voice to the conversation.

    More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.


    Yellow-billed cuckoo may get endangered species status

    October 5, 2013

    Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

    Native bird has nearly been extirpated from the West

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    Yellow-billed cuckoos have nearly been extirpated from the western U.S. Photo courtesy Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory .

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    Yellow-billed cuckoos are only found in a few isolated locations in Colorado.

    By Summit Voice

    FRISCO — The yellow-billed cuckoo, once common along streams throughout the West, may finally get some protection under the Endangered Species Act.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed Endangered Species Act protection  for the brids, following a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species nationwide.

    The flashy bird, with a long tail and white markings on it wings, has long been listed as a species of concern by Colorado wildlife biologists, as their numbers have dropped drastically since the early 20th century. Click here to read a Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory report on yellow-billed cuckoos in…

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    Water: What is the New Normal?

    October 3, 2013

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    By Jennie Geurts, Administrative Assistant, CFWEImage

    CFWE's Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

    CFWE’s Program Assistant Jennie Geurts

    The Sustaining Colorado Watersheds Conference is only a week away.  This year’s theme is “Water:  What is the New Normal?” This question immediately intrigued me – not only because I want to prepare for Colorado’s water future, but also because I’ve never had a good baseline for the “old normal.”

    I am a transplant to Colorado.  I moved to Denver in August 2010, unsure of what to expect from my new state’s climate.  I soon discovered water is scarce – we need it, but it rarely falls in the form of rain.  Nevertheless, I braced myself for lots of snow.

    My first winter was surprisingly mild.  Sure, it would snow, but then the temperature would jump back up to the 60s.  Was this normal?  I didn’t have enough information to judge.  Then the summer of 2011 rolled…

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    It’s a New (water) Year!

    October 2, 2013

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Fall - The Colors of Survivors

    (Photo credit: sektordua)

    Not only is October 1 the start of a beautiful fall month, but today in Colorado we begin a bright new water year. Climatologists and hydrologists track surface water and accumulation of precipitation starting on October 1 each year. From the Colorado Water Trust’s newsroom:

    Why does the Colorado Water Year begin on October 1st?  This explanation, crafted in 1985 by Nolan Doesken and Thomas McKee, is still as relevant as ever:

    “In Colorado, the Water Year (October 1 through September 30) is the most appropriate period for monitoring climate.  This 12-month period is directly correlated with the state’s water storage—water usage cycle.  In October snow usually begins to accumulate in the high mountains.  As winter progresses, the snowpack normally continues to build up.  This snow is the frozen reservoir which supports the huge ski and winter recreation industry.  Eventually it supplies much of the water…

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    Colorado River District: Recap of our 2013 Annual Water Seminar ‘Shrinking in Supply – Growing in Demand’

    September 25, 2013
    Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

    Upper Basin States vs. Lower Basin circa 1925 via CSU Water Resources Archives

    Click here to go to their website for the video of the event.


    Flooding’s impact on agriculture… what’s coming to the grocery story? and next year?

    September 24, 2013

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Flooding

    Flooding (Photo credit: Nurpu)

    The irrigating season is over for farmers but rows of crops were doused just last week during Colorado’s floods. As we all know, Colorado will be thinking about this flood water months after it’s gone– there will be plenty of ‘headaches’ in the coming months, maybe years. The big issue will be the ability to deliver water to agricultural fields next year, writes Eric Brown for the Greeley Tribune.

    As much irrigation infrastructure is in need of repair and rebuild, irrigators have the coming winter months to get their systems in order before they’re called upon again next spring. If all goes superbly well, repairs will be made and this extra water will help meet next year’s irrigation demands. From Brown’s article:

    “We still have a lot of assessing to do, but it could be upwards of about $1 million in repairs that we need…

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    Tell it true and edible

    September 23, 2013

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Let’s get the week off to an unusual start with a poem from Justice Greg Hobbs. Hobbs, a CFWE Board member, shares this poem after a recent trip to Botswana and South Africa.

    Inspired to see some of these animals here in Colorado? There’s always the zoo… learn about water at the zoo here. Do you enjoy Justice Hobbs’ poetry? If you missed it, check out Colorado Mother of Rivers– a poem and rap.

    Tell It True And Edible, Greg Hobbs 9/14/2013

    Photos by Greg and Bobbie Hobbs and Leigh and Mike Wilson

    Cheetah’s fast, but can’t climb trees,

    cheetah

    Leopard hangs his kill aloft

    leopard

    Hyenas hear the warthog’s squeal

    Chase the leopard off;

    hyena

    Lioness will crouch and still,

    lioness

    Impala cross in fleet review

    impala

    Male lion will supervise

    Her choice of his next meal;

    male lion

    Rhino marks his boundaries

    In piles of dung and urine spray,rhino

    Elephant will knock down…

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    Drought news: Vail area remains in moderate drought #COdrought

    September 23, 2013
    US Drought Monitor Map September 17, 2013

    US Drought Monitor Map September 17, 2013

    From the Vail Daily (Scott N. Miller):

    The Colorado Climate Center, the National Integrated Drought Information System and other agencies hold regular conference calls to determine what the next regional drought map should look like. As you’d expect, the flood-drenched areas of the Front Range have been removed from any drought designation. Most of the Western Slope, though, remains in “moderate” drought, despite the fact that the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University reports most of the region received at least 150 percent of its usual rainfall between Aug. 18 and Sept. 16…

    State climatologist Nolan Doesken said the western part of the state has had enough rain to relieve “vegetative water” issues — keeping everything green. Streamflow is another matter.

    “We still have the impacts of long-term dryness,” Doesken said. That dryness means streamflows, which are still suffering a kind of hangover from 2012. Doesken said the snowfall we received in April and May helped bolster stream levels, but the ground on the mountainsides was so dry from the drought that much of the late-season snow soaked in before it could run off into streams.

    While streamflows have stayed below normal this season, the massive rainfall on the northern Front Range has helped the Colorado River going into the fall, according to a report from Hannah Holm, coordinator of the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University. The Colorado is tapped for Front Range use, mostly from high-elevation reservoirs in Summit and Grand counties. Since there’s no real need for Western Slope water right now, reservoir levels and Colorado River streamflows will be healthier than usual this fall.

    That will help the river going into the next “water year,” which starts Oct. 1. And, Doesken said, September rains have helped build ground moisture going into this next year…

    Doesken said that Klaus Wolter, a researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has a more clear estimate for the fall. In the last drought report conference call Doesken said Wolter showed “distinct optimism” that the state could have a nearly-average fall season.

    “Everyone (on the call) really breathed a sigh of relief when we heard that,” Doesken said. “It would really be nice to have a year that’s near average.”


    NWS Boulder: Historic rainfall that produced massive flooding last week also markedly improved drought conditions in Colorado

    September 21, 2013

    The Science Behind Colorado’s Thousand-Year Flood

    September 18, 2013

    Originally posted on Science & Space:

    Correction appended 9/20/13

    Just a few months ago, Boulder, Colorado was in the grip of yet another drought, and the state itself experienced its worst wildfire on record earlier this year. But after days of heavy rainfall that the National Weather Service called “biblical,” drought and fire is the last thing that Boulder and the rest of the northern Front Range of Colorado has to worry about.

    On average Boulder receives about 1.7 inches of rain during the month of September. As of 7 AM on September 16, Boulder had received 17.17 inches of rain so far in the month, smashing the all-time record of 9.59 inches set in May of 1995. 9.08 inches fell on Sept. 12, nearly doubling the previous daily record of 4.80 inches set on July 31, 1919. In fact, Boulder has already broken its yearly record for precipitation—with more than three months left in…

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    Cedar Rapids: What should Boulder County know about flood recovery?

    September 18, 2013

    Originally posted on The Smith Compound:

    Wise, thoughtful friend Larry from Cedar Rapids offered these words of advice via Facebook after reading the post below:

    This brought back a lot of memories. …we were not directly affected by the floods in CR but are still living with the aftermath. 

    All I can offer to the folks in CO is to know that this is a chance to make positive changes in your communities. Know that you will not be made whole by the federal or state govt. There are things that need done that you will have to finance yourselves. We are still struggling with that in CR. 

    Those of us that don’t live in CO but love it are pulling for you.


    As I tell Mrs. Smith rather frequently, I’m a lucky man. Terrific wife, wonderful children and daughter-in-law, super siblings, great friends, job worth doing, and much more.

    Now we’ve been lucky together again…

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    Impacts of rain and flooding

    September 18, 2013

    Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

    Our hearts are with those who have suffered major losses during the past week of torrential rain and flooding across the state. We know the impact has been devastating for many communities in Colorado.

    Many people are wondering how Denver Water has been impacted by the flooding, so we wanted to address some of the common questions we are hearing.

    Gross Dam Road experienced significant damage as a result of the storms.

    Gross Dam Road experienced significant damage as a result of the storms.

    How has the flooding affected Denver Water?

    Denver Water has facilities in 13 counties in the state. Since Wednesday night, our caretakers who live and work at our facilities in the most hard-hit areas have been working around-the-clock to protect our dams, reservoirs, pipes and treatment plants from the impacts of the recent rain and flooding. Fortunately, we were able to make operational changes to maintain water quality, and customers have not experienced any water service or quality…

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    Great round up of pictures in this photo gallery–some are stunning #COflood

    September 14, 2013

    Truly historic rain being reported with this storm #COflood

    September 13, 2013

    Drought news #COdrought

    September 6, 2013

    usdroughtmonitor09032013.jpg

    Here’s an excerpt from the summary from the US Drought Monitor website:

    Weather Summary: The week commenced with high pressure over the Southeast and storm systems traversing across the northern U.S. As the week progressed, the high pressure system traveled westward, settling over the south-central Plains while a trough of low pressure and associated cold front brought scattered showers and thunderstorms to the eastern third of the Nation. A weak frontal system generated scattered showers in the Pacific Northwest. In the Southwest, tropical moisture from Tropical Storm Juliette (which dissipated off central Baja California) helped to fuel the southwest monsoon in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and southern Idaho. Decent showers also fell on parts of New Mexico and Colorado. Hit and miss showers also fell on parts of the northern Plains and upper Midwest, the central Great Plains, and south-central Texas. Unsettled weather and decent precipitation also affected most of Alaska, with many stations reporting weekly totals exceeding 2 inches in southwestern and south-central sections of the state. In contrast, little or no rain fell on most of California, Oregon, and eastern Washington, parts of the Plains, most of the Mississippi Valley, and much of Hawaii. Weekly temperatures averaged well above normal (6 to 10 degF) across much of the contiguous U.S., with the exception of seasonable readings in the desert Southwest and Southeast. Highs topped triple-digits in the southern two-thirds of the Plains, southern Iowa and northern Missouri…

    Northern and Central Great Plains: Most of the Dakotas reported light to moderate (0.5 to 1.5 inches) of rain, with a few spots in southern North Dakota and northern South Dakota measuring over 2 inches. The rains were enough to keep conditions status-quo, except where the heavier rains fell. In the latter case, D0 was alleviated along most of the western D0 edge of the Dakotas, with D1 to D0 in south-central North Dakota. A slight increase in D0 was made in extreme southeastern South Dakota where many days in the 90’sF have started to prematurely brown the crops. USGS stream flows are still near or above normal at most sites in the Dakotas. No changes were made in Nebraska and Kansas, except for a small 1-category improvement (D1 to D0; D0 to nothing) in extreme sections of southeast Nebraska, northeast Kansas, southwest Iowa, and northwest Missouri, where 1.5 to 3.2 inches fell.

    Southern Great Plains: In Oklahoma and Texas, several weeks of mostly dry and warm weather (highs in the 100sF) have diminished the surplus rains from a wet and cool July (in both states) and a wet and cool early August (in Oklahoma). As a result, D0 returned across northern Oklahoma, while a 1-category downgrade occurred across southern Oklahoma as August was a no-show in the southern third of the state. In Texas, a band of light to moderate, with some locally heavy (>2 inches) rain, fell from near Del Rio northeastward into southeastern Oklahoma, and along the Gulf Coast. Some slight improvements were made where the heaviest totals occurred. In eastern Texas, little or no rain fell, and some deterioration was made.

    The Southwest: A continued robust summer monsoon, aided by a northward fetch of moisture from former Tropical Storms Juliette and Kiko (both dissipated west of central Baja California), produced widespread showers and thundershowers to much of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and northward into parts of the West (Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado). Numerous locations in southern Nevada and Arizona measured over 2 inches of rain, while 1 to 2 inches were common in central Nevada, western and central New Mexico, central Utah, and most of Arizona. Although short-term shortages have been greatly eased or eliminated, long-term deficits still lingered. To accommodate the long-term impacts, only slight improvements were made where the greatest rains fell and the long-term deficits (180-days) were noticeably reduced. For example, enough rain has fallen during the past 6-months in western New Mexico and southwestern Texas that surpluses have accumulated, hence the D2 to D1 and D0 to nothing upgrade, respectively. Similarly in south-central Nevada, D3 and D2 was improved where there was heavy weekly rains and the 180-day deficits were noticeably diminished. The same holds true in western and central Arizona where D2 and D1 were decreased. On Sep. 2, even many USGS stream flow gauges in western New Mexico, central Arizona, southern Nevada, and southwestern Utah flowed at the 90th percentile at 1- and 7-days. The Impacts line was redrawn to depict improved short-term conditions from the robust monsoon, making the long-term (hydrologic) effects causing most of the negative impacts.

    The West: Moderate to heavy (1 to 3 inches) rains fell on the Pacific Northwest Coast, effectively eliminating the D0(S) in western Washington. Southwest monsoonal showers also spread northward into southeastern Idaho, central Colorado, and southeastern Wyoming, dropping enough rain (1 to 2.5 inches) to improve D2 to D1 in southeastern Idaho, and 1-category improvement of parts of the D3 and D2 areas in southeastern Wyoming. In addition, 180-day surpluses were present, justifying an upgrade from D1 to D0. Elsewhere, little or no rain fell, and conditions were kept status-quo. An exception was made in north-central Oregon (D0 and D1) where a re-assessment of 90- to 180-day deficiencies were made. The data and products yielded a surplus at those time periods, hence the D1 was improved to D0 (eastern Wheeler county) and D0 removed (from Wasco, Jefferson, Sherman, and western Wheeler counties).


    Tapping the Rockies: Water for Beer

    September 4, 2013

    Coyote Gulch:

    Leave the streams intact for beer and food. Sounds like a sound water policy.

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Participants of CFWE’s Bottled Beverage Tour.

    Today, an NBC News story No Water, No Beer takes us back to last year’s bottled beverage tour, where 50 participants visited and heard from MillerCoors, MolsenCoors, Coca Cola and Nestle Water– companies who use Colorado’s water in beverage production. We toured the production plants, learned about water use  and treatment, and heard about efficiencies and water conservation efforts. Of course, these bottled beverage companies rely on the same water that we all use to meet many demands in Colorado. From the NBC story:

    “Without water, there is no beer,” Kim Marotta, the sustainability director for MillerCoors, the Chicago-based joint venture of international brewing giants SABMiller and Molson Coors, told NBC News.

    Like many in the brewing industry, MillerCoors understands that access to water of the quantity and quality it needs to grow barley and hops and brew beer is no longer…

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    Rethinking Reservoirs

    September 4, 2013

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Terrace Reservoir

    Around Colorado new collaborations are emerging around water storage and use. From Steamboat Springs to the San Luis Valley, different water interests are working together to increase flow in rivers and streams, benefiting local economies, local water tables and aquatic life. Through our new radio program, Connecting the Drops, produced in partnership with Colorado Community Radio stations, we’re exploring these collaborative relationships.  Listen to Rethinking Reservoirs here.

    From the Rio Grande issue of Headwaters magazine, a story “Water in the Bank”:

    In the arid San Luis Valley, investment in a reservoir is an investment in the future. Impacted by persistent drought conditions and a runoff period coming three weeks earlier than it has historically, the importance of banking water for use throughout the year has never been more apparent.

    Water banking is important around the state and can benefit multiple uses. From Connecting the Drops, the

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    Drought news: The lower Yampa River Basin needs more rain #COdrought

    August 29, 2013

    usdroughtmonitor08272013.jpg

    Click on the thumbnail graphic for the latest drought map from the US Drought Monitor. Here’s an excerpt from their discussion:

    Past Week: Several cold fronts stalled across the Southeast during the past week, bringing slightly cooler temperatures and occasional precipitation to parts of the area. Moisture from what was briefly Tropical Storm Ivo off the coast of Baja California surged into the Southwest, resulting in moderate rains (0.5 – 1.5 inches, locally heavier) over a significant portion of the region. In the central part of the Nation, above-normal temperatures combined with rapidly worsening drought, resulting in widespread deterioration of conditions especially across the Midwest…

    Northern and Central Great Plains: As with the Midwest, the central and eastern portions of both the Dakotas and Nebraska are also experiencing problems with both excessive heat and drought. Temperatures have reached well into the 90s for many areas. Bismarck, ND, for example, topped out at 102 degrees F on August 20th. This breaks the old record of 100 degrees F set in 1976. PNP values for the past 60-days fell between the 10th and 25th percentiles across parts of eastern North Dakota and adjacent parts of Minnesota. PNP values between the 25th and 50th percentiles were common over much of the eastern Dakotas and portions of southeastern Nebraska (between Omaha and Lincoln). Based on factors such as these, widespread one-category downgrades were deemed necessary in this region.

    Conversely, good rains in August and decent stream flows in extreme southeastern South Dakota have resulted in much better crop conditions than the rest of the region in general. Moderate drought (D1) was improved to abnormal dryness (D0) in southern Clay and southern Union counties. Elsewhere in eastern South Dakota, Aberdeen may end up having its second driest August on record. So far this month, only 0.15-inch has fallen. The record of 0.06-inch was set back in 1947. Normal rainfall for August in Aberdeen is 2.43 inches.

    Southern Great Plains: Slightly above-normal temperatures, near to below-normal stream flows, and PNPs between the 25th and 75th percentiles warranted an expansion of abnormal dryness (D0) in southern Oklahoma. In Texas, lots of minor alterations were made to the drought depiction, both improvements and degradations.

    The West: Several relatively small changes (improvements) were made to the drought depiction across southern Wyoming, and both north-central and eastern Colorado. In northwestern Arizona, the area of extreme drought (D3) in Coconino county was reduced in size, while severe drought (D2) improved to moderate drought (D1) over much of north-central Arizona. These improvements were primarily based on several flood reports, given that rainfall data is sparse throughout this region.

    From the The Craig Daily Press (Bear Steadman):

    Still below the normal trend of 1.1 inches of precipitation, Northwest Colorado received .39 inches of rain so far in August, yet that is expected to increase during the weekend, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Grand Junction…

    NWS Meteorologist Travis Booth said that Northwest Colorado can also expect a return in monsoon activity Labor Day weekend. This should provide widespread rain showers that will lead into early next week. Although the rain will be beneficial, there is a concern that lightning strikes may spark fires in the area.

    This September, there is an increased probability of high temperatures rather than the normal trend of lower temperatures. The NWS said that there are “equal chances” for either above or lower precipitation levels in September but there are no clear signs to determine how much precipitation to expect. Furthermore, New Mexico and Arizona have a predicted above normal precipitation level next month; therefore there is a chance the weather will drift into Northwest Colorado.

    From the Cortez Journal (Tobie Baker):

    Tropical Storm Ivo stalled off the coast of the Baja Peninsula over the weekend, bringing some “nice local relief” in the form of rain to Cortez.

    “The storm brought a bunch of needed rain across the Southwest, and it did us a lot of good,” said cooperative weather observer Jim Andrus. According to Andrus, Ivo dumped nearly two inches of rain in Cortez from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday. He recorded a total of 1.95 inches over the two-day period, including 1.76 inches of rainfall on Sunday…

    “The weekend’s storm was just a single event,” Andrus said. “The drought is still here.”

    Andrus said drought conditions would persist until water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell return to normal. Both reservoirs remain well below normal levels. A National Weather Service cooperative weather observer for Cortez for the past 16 years, Andrus said Montezuma County has been experiencing a drought since 1997. While the drought has not been consistent, including three years of above-normal precipitation and two years of near-normal precipitation, Andrus said two-thirds of the past 15 years have experienced below normal levels of precipitation.

    From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

    The .13 inches of rain that fell on Steamboat Springs from Aug. 23 to 25 broke a nine-day run without precipitation, but it wasn’t enough to put the city and the surrounding mountains back on track for average August precipitation. With Sept. 1 just a week away, Steamboat has totaled .52 inches of moisture thus far this month, well short of the August average of 1.71 inches, according to the National Weather Service’s regional climate center.


    Climate and Cattle

    August 29, 2013

    Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

    Cattle ranching in Jackson County

    Cattle ranching (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Drought can devastate Colorado’s agricultural industry, as we’ve seen this year in the Arkansas River Basin. An article pulled from this blog for the Grand Junction Free Press’ Water Lines column begins to highlight the impacts southeastern Colorado is seeing:

    Area producers are seeing economic impacts — the 2013 winter wheat crop was almost nonexistent, corn planting for 2013 was less than 5 percent of average and there’s been at least an 80 percent loss of rangeland — projected crop loss for the region is more than $72 million. The impact is wide ranging and producers worry that they haven’t seen the end of it.

    “From an agricultural standpoint this is a big area of the state and agriculture is the state’s number one economic area,” Finnessy said. Economics in the Arkansas Basin can impact the state’s economy as a whole.

    Lost rangeland and high…

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