Colorado: Big flows expected in Blue River

Good news for boaters

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Healthy streamflows and good boating in the Blue River Basin. @bberwyn photo.

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Blue River snowpack still growing.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Late-season storms have helped boost snowpack in the Blue River to near last year’s level, promising healthy runoff and flows in Summit County, according to Denver Water.

The effects of the steady barrage of spring storms is already showing up the Lower Blue River, where flows are increasing due to increased releases from Dillon Reservoir, according to Denver Water, which won’t be diverting water through the Roberts Tunnel until mid-July at the earliest. Continue reading

Feds promise $50 million for Western water conservation

Smart water management and conservation can help reduce drought pressure in the West

Blue River Colorado

Frost-tinged trees gleam in the morning light along the Blue River, a key Colorado River tributary north of Silverthorne, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Efforts to conserve water in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin and across the West got a major boost from the Obama administration this week. Federal resource managers this week announced a $50 million investment to  improve water efficiency and conservation in California and 11 other western states. Continue reading

Climate: Is this year’s El Niño here to stay?

Forecasters nearly certain pattern will persist at least through the end of summer and probably to the end of the year

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Warm sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific show the shape of El Niño.

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A classic El Niño sea surface temperature pattern is projected in this map from NOAA.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A developing Pacific El Niño is already affecting weather patterns across the western U.S. by bringing abundant spring moisture to the region, including late season snow and rain to parts of parched California.

And last week meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said El Niño is likely to stick around for the summer and probably even through the end of the year, perhaps even gaining strength. More on the forecast in this NOAA El Niño blog.
Continue reading

Drought disaster declared in northwest Colorado

USDA declaration opens door for emergency aid

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Staff Report

FRISCO — While spring snow and rain have slightly eased Colorado water woes, the situation is more serious in the northwestern part of the state, where three large rural counties have been designated as a contiguous disaster areas due to drought.

Senator Michael Bennet announced the designation today, saying that the U.S. Department of Agriculture declaration makes farm operators in thise counties eligible to be considered for federal assistance, including Farm Service Agency emergency loans.

“Producers on Colorado’s western slope have faced drought conditions that are damaging their goods and hurting local economies,” Bennet said. “These disaster designations will allow farmers and ranchers to access critical assistance to help them deal with any losses to crops or livestock.”

Producers in counties designated as primary or contiguous disaster areas are eligible to be considered for FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the disaster declaration to apply for assistance. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers and ranchers with additional information.

The drought declaration came after a winter of well-below normal snowfall and near-record warmth in the region.

Climate: When good ozone goes bad

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.

Western U.S. counties violating current and proposed ozone air quality standards. Map courtesy Jeremy Nichols/ClimateWest blog.

La Niña weather pattern found to contribute to spikes in western ozone levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Spring ozone formation in parts of the western U.S. appear to be linked with the hemispheric La Niña weather pattern, when the path of the jet stream forces high altitude ozone down to ground level.

After discovering the link, a team of researchers say their findings may help forecast harmful ozone episodes well in advance, which could have implications for attaining the national ozone standard. Continue reading

Climate: April ends up as 17-warmest on record

Heat shifts from Far West to Southeast

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Much of the U.S. was warmer than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Last month ended up as the 17-warmest April on record, with an average temperature for the 48 contiguous states at 53.1 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the warmest April since 2012, according to the new monthly State of the Climate summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Continue reading

Climate: Drought ‘donut’ circles Colorado

Forecast for wet spring helps ease concerns

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A drought donut around Colorado?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Above-average reservoir storage and forecasts for a wet spring season could help keep Colorado out of drought trouble — even though statewide precipitation has been below average for the entire water year to-date, starting last October. As of mid-March, 40 percent of Colorado was classified as being in severe drought conditions, with only 25 percent of the state drought-free. Continue reading

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