Category: Snow and weather

Climate: Warmer springtime temps cut Colorado River flows

A wintry icescape along the Blue River north of Silverthorne, Colorado.
A wintry icescape along the Blue River north of Silverthorne, Colorado.

It’s not just the snowpack

Staff Report

A new study showing the link between warmer spring temperatures and decreased river flows could spell more challenges for water managers trying to stretch supplies from major western rivers.

The research suggests that warmer-than-average spring temperatures may have a bigger effect on upper Colorado River flows than expected.

“Forecasts of stream flow are largely based on precipitation,” said University of Arizona professor Connie Woodhouse. “What we’re seeing since the 1980s is that temperature plays a larger role in stream flow and in exacerbating drought, said Wodehouse. Continue reading “Climate: Warmer springtime temps cut Colorado River flows”

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Climate: U.S. West very dry in February

Very dry across the West in February 2016.
Very dry across the West in February 2016.

Where’s El Niño?

Staff Report

El Niño didn’t exactly go gangbusters in southwest Colorado last month, where the key river basins received only about 35 percent of average February precipitation. Statewide mountain precipitation was only slightly better, at 56 percent of normal.

“February in the mountains of Colorado is typically a slightly drier month than compared to say, April. But a dry February like this could have big ramifications should April and May not pan out” said Brian Domonkos, Snow Survey Supervisor with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continue reading “Climate: U.S. West very dry in February”

Wildlife: Wintry weather to take toll on Colorado mule deer

Mule deer enjoying an abundance of January forage as a sustained warm spell has melted low-elevation snowpack in Colorado.
Last year, mild winter conditions eased foraging conditions for ungulates, but this year’s cold temps and deep snow could result in increase mortality. @bberwyn photo.

‘Wildlife has been experiencing and surviving severe weather for eons without human intervention’

Staff Report

Harsh winter conditions in northwestern Colorado may take a toll on already struggling mule deer herds, state biologists said last week, explaining that they’ve started a limited feeding program to try and keep ungulates from invading cattle grazing areas.

The recent storms have created conditions ranking among the most extreme in the past 35 years. Temperatures dropping well below zero and deep powder snow atop brittle crusts are making it harder for deer and elk to forage and could lead to increased wildlife mortality in portions of the region unless the weather moderates significantly, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Continue reading “Wildlife: Wintry weather to take toll on Colorado mule deer”

Snowshoe hares face climate change challenge

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Can snowshoe hares survive global warming? Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

‘That mismatch does indeed kill’

Staff Report

For millennia, snowshoe hares have camouflaged themselves from predators by blending in with their surroundings, turning pure white in the winter to blend in with the snow, then brown in the summer.

But climate change is shifting the timing of the snow season, and the hares may not be able to adapt in time, according to a North Carolina State University study published in the journal Ecology Letters.

Based on field research with radio-collared snowshoe hares in Montana, mismatched snowshoe hares suffer a 7 percent drop in their weekly survival rate when snow comes late or leaves early and white hares stand out to predators like “light bulbs” against their snowless backgrounds. Continue reading “Snowshoe hares face climate change challenge”

Sunday set: Winter dreams

From the archives

There’s pure magic in the deep, cold heart of winter, especially during the golden hour, when the rising or setting sun can be playful, mysterious and perplexing. The images in this set capture a bit of that magic, but there’s so much more. #getoutside #explore and don’t forget your camera! If you want to support independent journalism, visit our online gallery to buy a fine art print, with proceeds supporting Summit Voice.

Colorado starts 2016 with healthy snowpack

Will the storm door stay open?

snowpack mapStaff Report

El Niño has been generous to Colorado this winter, favoring all of the state with near- to above-normal precipitation since the beginning of winter. As of Jan.1, nearly all the state’s river basins were above average, with only the North Platte and the Yampa drainages lagging slightly below normal.

Some past El Nino events have been known to leave the northern half of the state high and dry.

“Statewide snowpack is 118 percent of normal, considerably better than last year’s start” said Brian Domonkos, Colorado Snow Survey Supervisor with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continue reading “Colorado starts 2016 with healthy snowpack”

Climate: Howling Antarctic winds found to ‘eat’ snow

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New data is changing the understanding of the water cycle in Antarctica. @bberwyn photo.

Climate models may need revamping after scientists measure snow loss

Staff Report

Winds howling across the vast, frozen Antarctic plateaus are scouring the region of moisture by vaporizing most of the airborne snow, scientists said in a new study that could shift estimates of how much the ice-covered continent is contributing to sea level rise. Continue reading “Climate: Howling Antarctic winds found to ‘eat’ snow”