#ENSO: The latest discussion is hot off the presses from the Climate Prediction Center

midnovember2016plumeofensopredictions

Click here to read the discussion. Here’s the synopsis:

ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Advisory

Synopsis: La Niña conditions are present, with a transition to ENSO-neutral favored during January-March 2017.

La Niña conditions persisted during November, with negative sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies present across most of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. The Niño indices remained negative during November, except for the Niño1+2 index which reflected near-average SSTs in the extreme eastern Pacific late in the month. Also, the upper-ocean heat content remained below average in association with cooler temperatures at depth, although this cooling lessened somewhat during the month. Atmospheric convection remained suppressed over the central tropical Pacific and enhanced over part of Indonesia. The low-level easterly winds remained enhanced in the west-central tropical Pacific, and upper-level westerly winds persisted across the tropical Pacific. However, these signals were masked at times by intra-seasonal activity. Overall, the ocean and atmosphere system during November reflected a continuation of weak La Niña conditions.

The multi-model averages favor La Niña (3-month average Niño-3.4 index ≤ -0.5°C) to continue through December – February (DJF) 2016-17. Given the current conditions and the model forecasts, the forecaster consensus also favors the continuation of weak La Niña conditions through DJF 2016-17.

In summary,LaNiñaconditionsarepresent,withatransitiontoENSO-neutralfavoredduring January – March 2017 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3- month period).

La Niña is anticipated to affect temperature and precipitation across the United States during the upcoming months (NOAA’s 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday December 15th). The current seasonal outlook for DJF 2016-17 favors above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation across much of the southern tier of the U.S., and below-average temperatures and above- median precipitation in portions of the northern tier of the U.S.

The latest briefing from Western Water Assessment is hot off the presses

Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation as a percent of normal November 2016 via the Colorado Climate Center.
Upper Colorado River Basin precipitation as a percent of normal November 2016 via the Colorado Climate Center.

Click here to read the latest briefing. Here’s an excerpt:

Latest Monthly Briefing – December 8, 2016

  • November was drier than normal for most of the region, with wetter spots in central and southern Wyoming, southern Utah, and eastern ColoradoWestern US Seasonal Precipitation. Statewide, Wyoming was in the 32nd percentile for precipitation, Colorado was in the 39th percentile, while Utah was in the 52nd percentile.
  • November continued what has been an extremely warm fall seasonWestern US Seasonal Precipitation, with most of the region coming in at 4-8°F above normal for the month. Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming each had their 3rd-warmest November on record.
  • Since early November, there has been some additional degradation of drought conditions in eastern Colorado and southern and eastern Wyoming US Drought Monitor. Colorado has D1 or D2 conditions over 38% of the state, compared to 15% in Utah and 14% in Wyoming.
  • The pattern change in mid-November finally opened the door to more storms and a big boost in snowpack conditions. As of December 8, most basins across the region have 55-80% of median SWE Western US Seasonal Precipitation. Central and southern Utah and northeastern Wyoming have near- or above-normal SWE.
  • Weak La Niña conditions are just hanging on in the tropical Pacific ENSO Nino Regions Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies. The ENSO forecast models are now tipped towards a return to ENSO-neutral conditions by late winter ENSO Prediction Plume. NOAA CPC seasonal forecasts show a wet tilt in the odds for Wyoming over the next three months 1-month precip forecast, 0.5-mo lead 3-mo precip forecast, 0.5-mo lead.
  • #California #Drought is a U.S. Problem — AGPRO #ColoradoRiver #COriver

    West Drought Monitor December 6, 2016.
    West Drought Monitor December 6, 2016.

    From AGProfessional.com (Rhonda Brooks):

    Dreams were made and lost in the 1840s by prospectors looking to make it big in the California Gold Rush. Today, people there prospect for a liquid gold that’s even more valuable. It’s water, and the lack of it is slowly strangling agriculture in the state.

    The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the state has suffered from drought conditions for five years. But that’s only part of the story, says Steve Runyan, a farm and rural real estate appraiser based in Bakersfield. The other parts of the story have to do with water use and distribution problems.

    Runyan addressed California’s water woes during the annual meeting of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), earlier this month, in Indian Wells, Calif. He says a big issue is there’s water in the northern half of the state, while a large portion of production agriculture is in the southern half.

    He explains the snow melt from the Sierra Nevada mountain range each spring flows into rivers, streams and reservoirs. A good portion of the runoff also winds up in the Pacific Ocean. Many farmers would like to see more of the water captured and used for crop production. But an aging infrastructure, long-held water rights and political red tape (not to mention push-back from environmentalists with their own agendas) are preventing that.

    For now, many farmers in the Golden State are staying in business by pumping groundwater to keep their fruit, nut and vegetable crops alive. But that can’t continue forever. Without intervention from government agencies, the long-term future for farming looks bleak in California–currently the No. 1 agricultural state in the U.S. and the fifth-largest agricultural producer in the world.

    As goes California. If what’s happening in California doesn’t worry you, it should, says Matt Marschall, senior vice president for CBRE, Inc., a real estate firm in San Diego. He says the state’s water issues are germane to the rest of the country.

    Other individuals and organizations hold similar views. In April 2015 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that “40 out of 50 states have at least one region that’s expected to face some kind of water shortage in the next 10 years.”

    Specific to California, Marschall says the cost of production in parts of the state have become so high that he anticipates some vegetable and fruit crops grown there will soon be produced in the Midwest.

    That’s already happening in Michigan, according to Mark Williams, ARA, and president of the real-estate firm Value Midwest, Marlette, Mich. Williams says some of his farmer clients say the soil quality, water supplies and lower costs—relative to California—make Michigan an ideal state to pick up additional acres of fruits and vegetables.

    “We have several areas with muck soils that are a great fit for cucumbers, tomatoes and celery,” he says, for example.

    At first blush, some producers and retailers in the Midwest might expect to simply profit from California’s misfortunes. But Williams’ perspective is that the regulations California is experiencing—not to mention its water woes–are likely to reach the rest of the U.S. as well.

    #Snowpack news: Snowing N and Central today, good snowfall expected this weekend

    Statewide snowpack map December 9, 2016 via the NRCS.
    Statewide snowpack map December 9, 2016 via the NRCS.
    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 9, 2016 via the NRCS.
    Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 9, 2016 via the NRCS.

    #AnimasRiver: House OKs bill that would speed claims from #GoldKingMine spill — The Durango Herald

    On April 7,  2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear. Eric Baker
    On April 7, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear.
    Eric Baker

    From The Durango Herald (Alejandro Alvarez):

    The U.S. House of Representatives approved a provision Thursday aimed at speeding up the process for damage claims from last year’s Gold King Mine spill into Cement Creek, a tributary of the Animas River.

    The provision would require the Environmental Protection Agency to submit all claims from states, local governments and tribes within 180 days of the bill being enacted. Part of a broader legislative package addressing improvements to the nation’s water infrastructure, it also would authorize federal funding for a water quality monitoring program for bodies of water contaminated by the August 2015 mine spill. The plume of toxic sludge traveled from the mine down the Animas and into the San Juan River, affecting communities in four states.

    The goal of the provision is to establish a quicker procedure for reimbursing claimants on damages resulting from government negligence under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The EPA has admitted responsibility for the accident and has already granted more than a quarter million dollars to state and local officials to cover cleanup costs…

    The water infrastructure act, which also includes emergency funding for the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and drought relief, moves to the Senate for a vote expected before the end of the year.

    Two small steps that add up to big water savings

    Mile High Water Talk

    Third-graders hit the streets in their neighborhood to teach adults how to make their homes more water-efficient.

    By Jay Adams

    Sometimes it’s the little things in life that can make the biggest difference. Just ask the people who live around Denver Green School.

    This fall they opened their doors to third-grade students who taught them two simple and inexpensive ways they could save water.

    With a little help from Matt Bond, Denver Water’s Youth Education manager, the students went door-to-door to ask neighbors if they’d be willing to swap out their old sink aerators and showerheads for lower-flow, high-efficiency models.

    Matt Bond, youth education manager, explains how faucet aerators and showerheads can save water. Matt Bond, youth education manager, explains how faucet aerators and showerheads can save water.

    “The fixtures are easy to install and can make a big difference in the amount of water people use in their homes,” Bond said.

    “It’s fun teaching people about water,” said Ahnika Campagna…

    View original post 269 more words

    @GreatOutdoorsCO awards $6.6 million for land conservation, protecting 13,000 acres of land

    Finishing up the stemming with many classic climbs to the right and left. Photo credit MountainProject.com.
    Finishing up the stemming with many classic climbs to the right and left. Photo credit MountainProject.com.

    My plan for retirement is to win the Lottery or Powerball. Odds are I’ll be working well into the future but nevertheless I am tickled with how my few bucks a week are being spent.

    Here’s the release from Great Outdoors Colorado:

    Today the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded $6.6 million in grants as part of its open space grant program, conserving more than 13,000 acres of land on 11 different properties.

    GOCO’s open space grant program funds public and private land conservation, with projects that sustain local agriculture and economies, give outdoor recreationists a place to play (or simply enjoy the view), protect wildlife habitat, and safeguard the state’s water supply.

    This round of projects will leverage $17.2 million in matching funds, more than $7 million of donated land value from landowners, and create or maintain public access on several projects.

    GOCO also offered two new funding opportunities as part of the fall 2016 grant cycle. Grantees were able to request up to $10,000 of their grant budget for communications and storytelling purposes, as well as an additional $5,000 line item for connecting youth to the outdoors on the property being conserved.

    Funded projects are as follows:

    Baker’s Peak Ranch Conservation Easement Project, $625,000 to Colorado Open Lands in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife

    Just south of the Wyoming border, Baker’s Peak Ranch is a 7,311-acre working cattle ranch that is also home to abundant wildlife. Permanently conserving the property will protect wildlife habitat, encourage further conservation in the area, preserve public hunting access, sustain local agriculture, protect scenic views from adjacent BLM land, and connect to other nearby public lands.

    Doig Homestead Open Space, $675,000 grant to Summit County

    The Doig Homestead, located just north of Silverthorne, is in the only remaining part of Summit County that is still home to active agricultural production. The project will also preserve scenic views from Highway 9 and protect habitat for deer and elk. The county will continue leasing the land for agricultural use and is considering opening a portion to public access to reach the surrounding United States Forest Service trails.

    Farmland Acquisition, $487,690 grant to the City of Brighton (partial award)

    In partnership with The Conservation Fund, Brighton will acquire 64 acres within an agricultural and agritourism district planned through a partnership between the city and Adams County.

    The property is essential to preserving Brighton’s rich agricultural history and is part of a valuable farming area in the region thanks to fertile soil and significant water rights. The property was at risk of development, but Brighton saw the need to see it instead conserved for local food production, scenic views, and public open space.

    Johnson Ranch – Glade Park, $308,500 grant to Mesa Land Trust

    GOCO funding will enable Mesa Land Trust to continue a conservation effort 50,000 acres in the making on Glade Park; the 680-acre Johnson Ranch will be the latest property permanently conserved and will serve as an example for nearby landowners to protect critical wildlife habitat while allowing ranching to continue. The cattle ranching family currently leasing the property also plans to continue to allow public access for local Boy Scout troops.

    La Garita Creek Ranch Conservation Easement, $376,500 grant to Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT)

    La Garita Creek Ranch is a 460-acre guest ranch outside of Del Norte that provides critical water access and habitat for a variety of wildlife and contains early Native American archaeological features that will be permanently protected. The conservation of La Garita will also create new climbing and bouldering access near Penitente Canyon. RiGHT was successful in applying for storytelling funds for this project.

    Maverick Ranch, $1,056,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land (TPL)

    Maverick Ranch is a 204-acre property outside of Salida with Gold Medal fishing on the Arkansas River. Once conserved, it will open to the public for fishing access, creating the longest span of public access on the river. The ranch also provides important wildlife habitat and connects to surrounding Bureau of Land Management land.

    TPL was successful in applying for $10,000 for storytelling efforts and will also partner with Denver’s Environmental Learning for Kids after receiving an additional $5,000 for connecting youth to the outdoors.

    North Floyd Hill, $545,000 grant to The Trust for Public Land (TPL), in partnership with Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT)

    Acquiring the 109-acre North Floyd Hill property will create a new gateway on I-70 for Coloradans to access 12,000 acres of trails and public open space in Clear Creek and Jefferson counties. The project will ultimately connect to the Peaks to Plains trail, protecting the highly visible property from development and permanently conserving it for public outdoor recreation.

    TPL and MALT were also successful in receiving $5,000 for connecting youth to the outdoors through this project.

    Poudre Valley Community Farms: A Pilot Project for Community Investment in Local Food, $639,750 grant to Colorado Open Lands (COL)

    COL will conserve a 52-acre property between Fort Collins and the Town of LaPorte to add to the popular local Native Hill Farm, which supports a year-round community-sustained agriculture (CSA) program, a farm stand, and several restaurants in Fort Collins with local produce. The Poudre Valley Community Farms Co-op will lease the land to Native Hill for organic vegetable production, pioneering a new model for community investment in local food.

    COL was successful in applying for the storytelling funding opportunity.

    Sunfire Ranch, $1 million grant to Pitkin County

    Pitkin County will permanently conserve 1,240 acres of the Sunfire Ranch, the largest ranch still unprotected in the Crystal Valley. The property has been owned by the Sewell Family since 1880. Conserving Sunfire will fill in extensive landscape of other conserved land on the Thompson Divide in addition to protecting wildlife habitat, sustaining local agricultural and environmental education, preserving scenic views, and protecting one mile of Thompson Creek.

    The Nature Center at Butler Corner, $264,560 grant to Montezuma Land Conservancy

    Montezuma Land Conservancy will conserve the 263-acre property outside of Dolores known as The Nature Center at Butler Corner. Several hiking trails and a temporary outdoor classroom are already in place and serving school groups and local families. The conservancy foresees using the property as part of its Community Conservation Initiative to increase local awareness of conservation efforts.

    Yust Ranch, $697,000 grant to The Conservation Fund

    The Yust Family has ranched in Grand County since 1884, and their property provides habitat to some of the largest herds of big game species as well as greater sage grouse. The project will contribute to the statewide conservation efforts for the Colorado River and protect scenic views enjoyed by the outdoor recreationists who fuel the regional economy.

    Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,800 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. [ed. emphasis mine] Visit http://GOCO.org for more information.