Record and near-record readings from coast to coast
November 2016’s average temperature across the U.S. was 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, making it the second-warmest on record, behind 1999. According to the latest monthly update from the National Centers for Environmental Information, November is warming at a rate of 6.6 degrees Fahrenheit per century. Only January has been warming faster, at a rate of 10.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century.
A quick flashback set featuring winter scenes from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It’s not always that easy to get motivated for a photo session when it’s below freezing outside, but it’s always worth it when you do, because, well, there are some things that you can only see in winter — delicate ice filaments forming on the surface of a creek that somehow manages to keep flowing through sub-zero air, or a winter storm clearing just in time to give way to the warm orange glow of sunrise. And it’s always fun to take a look at the structure of ice. So don’t put away your camera when the weather gets chilly. Just make sure your batteries are fully charged
*Author’s note -this essay was originally published Feb. 26, 2007 on New West.
It’s a mid-winter meltdown here in the Colorado High Country. After a string of seemingly endless powder days that lasted through most of January and the early part of February, the sun is out, the roadside berms are melting. And – shhhhh, don’t tell anyone – despite ski reports touting packed powder, the snow is transitioning at our local ski areas, even turning to (Gasp!) hardpack in places.
None of that stops my friend Dave from making the annual 1,000-mile trek from his home near Lodi, California, where he grows grapes and makes wine when he’s not busy as a volunteer patroller at Heavenly Valley. After all, it’s not just about the snow, it’s about a 20-year ski friendship born on the slopes, a bond that’s in part sustained by our mutual passion for sliding down snow-covered mountains. Continue reading “Skiing heals!”→
Much of West reports record-fast meltdown under El Niño heat
April storms helped boost Colorado’s statewide snowpack to above average, but two river basins in the southern part of the state continue to report below normal readings.
The state’s mountain areas benefited the most from a series of wet, El Niño-fueled storms, bringing precipitation for the water year to average, according to Brian Domonkos, the Colorado snow survey supervisor for the USDA Natural Resources conservation service.
“At this time last year the water supply outlook was grim at best,” Domonkos said. “Colorado’s current snowpack and precipitation levels are right where we want to be this time of year. Elsewhere in the Western United States seasonal snowpack during 2016 succumbed to early spring warming and did not recover as Colorado did from recent storms,” he added. Continue reading “April storms boost Colorado snowpack”→
Flooding, droughts and wildfires all expected to increase
New European climate modeling doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the decades ahead. With global warming, Europe is facing a progressively stronger increase in multiple climate hazards, according to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
March snowfall across the Colorado mountains helped maintain the statewide snowpack near average for the water year to-date, but the strong El Niño hasn’t played out as expected.
Instead of boosting moisture in the southwestern corner of Colorado, this year’s edition of the Pacific Ocean warm-water cycle sent the storm track surging into the Pacific Northwest and then down across Colorado’s northern mountains. Northeastern Colorado has been the wettest of all, with a wide section of the plains seeing up to double the average annual rainfall so far.
That’s bad news for the Southwest, where moisture has been sparse for the past several years. Western New Mexico, most of Arizona and the southern California deserts and coast have been especially dry since the start of the rainy season. Regionally, snowpack in the Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell was 94 percent of average as of March 17, and the Federal Bureau of Reclamation is projecting that the inflow to Lake Powell will be just 80 percent of average for the April to July period. Continue reading “Climate: Snowpack dwindles across southern Colorado”→