March storms bring Colorado snowpack to near average

Southern mountains get huge snowpack boost

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Early March storms helped bring the Colorado snowpack to near normal.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado’s statewide snowpack continues to track near average for the winter, as two weeks of wet weather helped especially to bolster water supplies in the southern mountains.

But despite substantial accumulations statewide, the snowpack is still below average, at 87 percent of normal as of March 1. SNOTEL data shows that, during the nine-day period of February 20 through March 1, the state received 2.0 inches of snow water equivalent, 181 percent of the normal for that period.

Preliminary numbers from early March show an additional 7 percent gain between March 1 and March 5 — but with only 20 percent of the mountain snowpack accumulation season remaining, time is dwindling to close the gap and reach typical statewide peak snowpack levels. Continue reading

Climate: Winter temperature across the lower 48 states was 2 degrees above the long-term average

Record warmth in West outweighed late-winter chill in the East

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Warm temps in the West, chilly in the East.

Staff Report

FRISCO — While TV news and weather stations focused on snowstorms in the Northeast, continued record warmth in the West helped drive the average winter temperature across the lower 48 states to well above average, resulting in the 19th-warmest winter on record.

According to the new monthly update from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature for the winter (December – February) was 34.3 degrees Fahrenheit, 2.1 degrees above the 20th century average.

But for February, the average temperature was slightly below average (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) across the contiguous 48 states, ranking near the median value in the 121-year period of record. Continue reading

El Niño arrives – better late than never?

Impacts unclear, though Gulf Coast could see rain surplus

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NOAA’s El Niño map shows widespread above-average sea surface temperatures.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A long overdue El Niño once anticipated as a potential drought-buster for California has emerged, but may not have a huge impact on North American weather.

Forecasters with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center made the announcement this week after measuring ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific. Those temps have been running above average for several months but just now crossed the El Niño threshold. the climate experts said in their monthly outlook. Continue reading

How long will California’s drought continue?

Snowpack at record low levels

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A NASA Earth Observatory photo shows dry conditions in California in Jan. 2014.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The snowpack in some key California watersheds is at or near all-time record low, the state’s water managers reported this week after conducting their monthly surveys.

At one site, west of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the California Department of Water Resources reported less than 1 inch of water content in the snowpack, just 5 percent of the March 3 historical average for that site. Snowpack measurements are online here. Continue reading

Colorado: House committee rejects clumsy GOP attempt to roll back renewable energy target

Playing politics with our future

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Got wind?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado won’t be lowering its 30 percent renewable energy target anytime soon, as lawmakers on a State House committee yesterday rejected a measure that would have cut the renewable energy standard from 30 percent to 15 percent. Continue reading

Climate: Do cities trigger their own weather?

Study tracks increased thunderstorm formation over Atlanta

A classic anvil-headed cumulunimbus cloud drops showers just east of the Continental Divide near Grays and Torreys Peak Tuesday evening. We haven't had a chance to see these beautiful clouds recently because we've been right underneath them. Click on the image to learn more about thundercloud formation.

A classic anvil-headed cumulunimbus cloud drops showers just east of the Continental Divide near Grays and Torreys Peak in Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with steadily raising global temperatures in the long-term, human-caused changes in land cover can affect day-to-day weather, including the formation of thunderstorms.

Specifically, urban areas appear to help trigger the formation of thunderstorms, possibly due to an increased concentration of aerosols, according to new research published in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society. Continue reading

Environment: Can adaptive grazing techniques help rebuild soils and sequester carbon?

Most modern cattle, including these longhorns near Silverthorne, Colorado, are descended from a

Adaptive grazing could have environmental benefits, researchers say. bberwyn photo.

Short-rotation pastures with long recovery time for fields may yield environmental benefits

Staff Report

FRISCO — While healthy forests are known to be important carbon sinks in the global atmospheric cycle, there’s also a role for robust soils, according to a study team that’s exploring whether new grazing management techniques could have long-term environmental benefits.

The Arizona State University-SoilCarbon Nation team is looking at adaptive multi-paddock grazing, rotating stock through small pastures for short periods of grazing and longer recovery periods for soil and vegetation.  The method mimics the migrations of wild herd animals, such as elk, bison and deer, and could help create robust soils, watersheds and wildlife habitat while sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading

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