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Colorado weather: Hang on to your hat!

The main storm track is just north of Colorado, with strong winds forecast Thursday night and Friday in the Colorado mountains.

High wind warning issued for high country, foothills and Front Range

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — We’re printing the shirts right now — “La Niña came to town and all we got was a lousy windstorm.”

That’s the weather story for the next few days, as a strong northwest flow returns to the West. Unfortunately for the Colorado Rockies, the storm track will stay just to the north, bringing powder to the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, but mostly bypassing the resorts along the I-70 corridor.

After a few passing waves brush the area through the weekend, high pressure returns for the start of the new year, potentially lingering right through the end of the forecast period. Continue reading

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Colorado: Citizen science project to monitor pikas

A great close-up view of a pika in the mountains near Aspen, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY KIM FENSKE.

Long-term citizen science effort aimed at measuring climate change impacts in the Colorado high country

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The climate of the mountain West is changing, and some biologists have already raised alarm about the American pika, a small mammal that lives in some of the most rugged nooks and crannies of the region, hiding out among giant boulders. As the world heats up, habitat for pikas is shrinking, and they may not last through the century in parts of their range.

Federal biologists studied the pika to determine whether it could benefit from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. They concluded that, while the animals may be affected by climate change, enough habitat will remain to ensure the existence of the species. Visit  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pika website to learn more.

Other scientists aren’t so sure. They think pikas might be “canaries in the coal mine” for global warming. Conservation biologists say that having a few remnant populations survive in isolated areas isn’t the same thing as ensuring long-term survival for the species as a whole. To gain a better understanding of what’s happening with pikas, Colorado-based conservation groups want some citizen help to gather better data on these cute and charismatic high country residents. They’ve started the Front Range Pika Project, a citizen science initiative that aims to engage the public in a long-term conservation study that, at the same time, could help raise public awareness about climate change impacts in the Colorado Rockies. Continue reading

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