Drought news: June 2012 Drought Update — CWCB #CODrought

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Click on the thumbnail graphic for the graphics from their email. Here’s the June 2012 Drought Update from the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Water Availability Task Force (Veva DeHeza/Kevin Rein):

The persistence of above average temperatures throughout the state continues to exacerbate persistently dry conditions on the west slope and parts of the eastern plains. Some areas of the state have received good June precipitation. However, high temperatures and winds have decreased the beneficial moisture. Municipalities are reporting increased demand and decreasing storage volumes. Some have implemented restrictions. Evapotranspiration rates are at, or near, all time highs for this time period throughout much of the state. Wheat harvest is occurring 2 weeks early due to high temperatures and limited water supplies. Agricultural impacts to both crops and herds are being reported. Snowpack in most river basins is comparable to June 1, 2002 and melt out has completed in many. Extreme drought conditions have been expanded across the northwest quadrant of the state according to the U.S. Drought Monitor; similar conditions also exist on the eastern plains in the Arkansas River Basin.

 The last three months temperatures have been five degrees above average for most of Colorado, with some areas experiencing temperatures eight degrees above normal.

 Reservoir storage remains decent throughout most of the state, at 98% of average and 92% of this time last year. The Upper Colorado and Yampa/ White river basins have the highest percent of average storage with both at 113%, while the Rio Grande has the lowest at 57% of average. All basins have seen a decline in average storage volumes since last month.

 As of the June 19, 2012 US Drought Monitor, 100% of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought classification. D1, moderate drought, conditions remain in much of the eastern plains, while the west slope is now classified as experiencing D2, severe, and D3 extreme drought conditions. Pockets of D2 and D3 also exist in the San Luis Valley and on the eastern plains. 27 % of the state is classified as experiencing “Extreme Drought”

 All streamflow forecasts are well below average. Most are below 50% statewide, with Tomichi Creek at Gunnison the lowest at 7% and the Rio Grande at Wagon Wheel Gap the highest at 65% of average.

 ENSO conditions remain neutral. A full transition to El Niño could occur in the second half of 2012. El Niño conditions would favor more moisture for the state.

 Producers are reporting mixed yields from the early wheat harvest, with some areas seeing as much as 25-30 bushels per acre and others as low as six. Rangeland conditions are poor to very poor and many counties are in the process of requesting emergency grazing on CRP lands. Dry-land farmers are the most impacted at this time, although irrigators are reporting needing more water than normal for this time of year.

 No federal drought declarations have been issued as of yet, but many counties anticipate needing to request a declaration due to commodity loss as a result of drought.

 The fire situation rating for the Rocky Mountain Area remains at Preparedness Level 4, indicating that highly complex large fire activity is occurring. Fires are escaping initial attack, as evident by the number of larger fires. Fire severity is very high to extreme as reported in multiple areas. One or more regional dispatch centers are experiencing an incident requiring type-1 or type-2 teams, and a majority of zone resources are committed. Priority setting is needed for critical resources.

 There is a statewide ban on open burning and the private use of fireworks due to high fire danger.

I live-tweeted the meeting using the hashtag #cwcbwatf.

More CWCB coverage here.

Silverton: River Protection Workgroup for the Animas River meeting Thursday

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From The Durango Herald:

The River Protection Workgroup for the Animas River will meet from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kendall Mountain Recreation Center in Silverton.

The focus of the meeting will be to discuss protection tools brainstormed for Mineral Creek and Cement Creek. No final recommendations will be made.

The purpose of the workgroup is to make recommendations about how to protect values on the Animas River upstream of Bakers Bridge, including several tributaries, while allowing for suitable water development to continue.

For more information, visit http://ocs.fortlewis.edu/riverprotection, call the Southwestern Water Conservation District at 247-1302 or email water@frontier.net.

More Animas River watershed coverage here and here.

Drought/runoff news: Ruedi Reservoir peaks at 88% of capacity

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From The Aspen Times via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Scott Condon):

The reclamation bureau boosted the releases from Ruedi’s dam by 60 cubic feet per second on Thursday. A total of about 170 cfs is now flowing into the Fryingpan River just downstream from the dam. All of the water that is flowing into the reservoir is being bypassed, so storage won’t increase barring a prolific monsoon, reclamation bureau spokeswoman Kara Lamb said.

The reservoir’s releases are being dictated by the “Cameo call” and an obligation to meet contract requirements, Lamb said.

The Cameo Ditch has the second most senior water right on the Colorado River. It irrigates farms and other land in western Colorado. There isn’t enough water in the Colorado River to meet the demands of the ditch, so additional water is being called, including from Ruedi Reservoir.

There is a Cameo call virtually every year, but usually there isn’t a direct effect on Ruedi, Lamb said. “It came early this year,” she said of the call.

Ruedi Reservoir also is receiving calls for water purchased by downstream municipalities, such as the town of Silt, Lamb said.

Ruedi was storing nearly 90,400 acre feet of water, or 88 percent of its capacity on Thursday.

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here.

Colorado fire perimeters map, Waldo Fire contact phone numbers

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Here’s the link to the interactive map from Google.

From email from the USFS (Barbara Timock):

Please post this number as the one for the public to use to reach the Waldo Canyon Fire Joint Information Center. It is a Google voice number that will ring the 5 numbers available here.

(719) 629-7322

Mary Scott
Joint Information Center
(720) 202-8521 – this is the number for media to call

Drought/precipitation news: Rain reported in Fort Collins, Weber Fire at 7,000 acres #CODrought

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Pat Ferrier):

The fire claimed 80 structures — 57 homes — in Glacier View Meadows subdivision and the Deer Meadows area northwest of Fort Collins when it ripped through the area Friday.

Residents learned the fate of their homes on Sunday during a meeting for evacuees at The Ranch in Loveland. No homes burned in Glacier View’s 10th and 11th filings or in filings 1-8.

Glacier View’s 12th filing suffered the bulk of the losses.

Crews previously confirmed that 191 homes had been destroyed by the fire. Friday’s destruction brings that toll up to 248 homes. No structures or homes were damaged on Saturday, incident commander Bill Hahnenberg said in a media briefing Sunday morning.

Sunday night, the skies above Fort Collins opened up, pouring rain — and accompanying lightning — down on the area. The squall’s effects on the fire won’t be fully known until the morning, when it will be easier to see where rain helped firefighters and where smoke from lightning will signal more work.

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From the Associated Press via The Pueblo Chieftain:

A wildfire near Colorado Springs erupted and grew out of control to nearly 6 square miles early Sunday, prompting the evacuation of more than 11,000 residents and an unknown number of tourists. On Saturday, a blaze destroyed 21 structures near the mountain community of Estes Park, where many visitors stay while visiting the park…

Also Sunday, a brushfire that began near Elbert, about 50 miles southwest of Denver, quickly spread to about 60 acres, forcing the evacuation of about 100 residents.

Half the nation’s firefighting fleet is now battling fires in Colorado, said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. C-130 military transport planes from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs would begin assisting today. With eight wildfires burning, including a fire that has scorched more than 118 square miles and destroyed at least 191 homes near Fort Collins, Colorado is having its worst wildfire season in a decade.

From The Durango Herald via the Cortez Journal (Shane Benjamin). Click through for the photo essay. Here’s an excerpt:

Conditions were preventing the Weber Fire from advancing on U.S. Highway 160 on Sunday evening, instead pushing the 7,000-acre blaze northwest and away from the town of Mancos. The hot, dry conditions were far from favorable, but they so far had failed to produce the manic growth firefighters feared…

The Type 3 team fighting the blaze was being replaced Sunday evening with a federal Type 2 team, which is larger and better equipped to wage a long-term and sophisticated attack on a complex wildland fire like Weber…

The possibility that the fire could jump U.S. Highway 160 continued to be one of officials’ top concerns. At Mancos Hill on Sunday evening, the fire was holding at about three-quarters of a mile south of the highway. The north side of the highway is more densely vegetated – and more populated…

Fire officials said the fire was moving down Menefee Mountain toward Mancos. This, actually, was good news because it was moving into an area where they can better attack it.

From the Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jordan Steffen/Kirk Mitchell):

An Estes Park cabin caught fire just after noon Saturday, sparking a wildfire that quickly grew to 20 acres in the hot and dry weather and consumed 21 homes and cabins…

Estes Park fire chief Scott Dorman said during an evening briefing for evacuees that the fire had “settled a bit.” Engines will remain on the fire, which he described as in a “mop up” stage. Crews still are waiting for gas lines to be shut off in the area. Some residents reported hearing explosions.

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The Weber Fire, burning in bone-dry southwest Colorado, grew to almost 8,000 acres by Sunday night, but at last reports, hadn’t burned any structures. The fire is burning near the towns of Mancos and Cortez, west of Durango, Colorado…

According to a late-breaking story from the Four Corners Free Press, the fire had reached 8,000 acres by late in the day. According to the story, the incident commander said the fire was still spreading rapidly in all directions. Read the full story here.