Drought/precipitation news: Monsoon bolsters Yampa River streamflow #monsoon #CODrought

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Click on the thumbnail graphic for the hydrograph for the Yampa River since March 1.

From Steamboat Today (Tom Ross):

Steamboat Springs weather observer Art Judson measured 0.13 inches of rain at 7 a.m. Tuesday at his station on an elevated bench between downtown and the ski mountain. Add that precipitation to the 0.29 inches he recorded Sunday morning and another 0.08 inches recorded Monday morning, and the unofficial three-day precipitation total is a tidy half-inch.

Despite the precipitation, Tuesday’s streamflow in the town stretch of the Yampa is just half of the average for the date…

A National Weather Service remote-automated weather station called Porcupine about 20 miles south of Steamboat recorded 0.21 inches of rain Sunday morning, none Monday morning and 0.84 inches Tuesday morning. Some of those precipitation amounts likely were reflected at Stagecoach Reservoir. The inflow at the reservoir was 113 cfs, and the dam release was 66 cfs Monday morning. Another weather station 5.5 miles east of Oak Creek recorded 0.31 inches of precipitation Tuesday morning, and another station 2.4 miles south of Steamboat recorded 0.2 inches. Just above the Steamboat town stretch of the Yampa and the official measuring station at the Fifth Street Bridge, Fish Creek was contributing 12 cfs to the river.

Here’s a release from the City of Carbondale via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

The Carbondale Board of Trustees has initiated water restrictions to conserve water until further notice. Due to high demand during this summer’s irrigation season, and to ensure proper functioning of the town water system, the town is imposing an even/odd restriction on irrigation.

Even-numbered addresses can irrigate on even-numbered days; odd-numbered addresses can irrigate on odd-numbered days.

In addition, the town requests no watering between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and asks residents to check the settings on sprinklers to eliminate water waste and overspraying.

Even with the recent rains, the area remains in a drought condition. These actions are necessary because of the lack of water within the Crystal River watershed.

Participation throughout the community will assist with maintaining adequate storage of the town’s treated water and help reduce the demands on the ditch systems.

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

Hay prices are spiking already. Hay for cattle sells for about $300 per ton now compared with about $100 per ton last year, said Tom Turnbull, a Carbondale-area rancher since the early 1960s. And precious little hay is for sale in Colorado because the drought has been so severe. That means hay will have to be purchased from other states — adding transit costs that could easily double the price per ton.

Ranchers are in a precarious position. If the drought continues, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management might ask some ranchers to pull their cattle off grazing leases on federal lands earlier than usual. Typically cattle can stay on the range until mid-October…

A cow will eat roughly two tons of hay over the winter, the same as a horse, Turnbull said. If a rancher doesn’t have enough hay to feed a cow and has to buy, the economics don’t work well. As hay prices continue to climb, the cost of feeding a cow over the course of five winter months will exceed the $800 that a calf currently sells for, Turnbull said. When that occurs, ranchers must determine if it makes more sense to cull their herds and sell the cows that aren’t top producers…

Patrick McCarty, an agricultural extension agent with the Colorado State University Extension in Rifle, said ranchers in Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties are facing a particularly tough time. Parts of northwest Colorado are facing drought ranked “exceptional” by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Much of the state, including Pitkin County, is considered in “extreme” drought.

“This is a catastrophic drought for agriculture in western Colorado,” McCarty said. “The hay production has been affected immensely.”

From the Associated Press via The Denver Post (Jim Suhr/Steve Karnowski):

In the High Plains states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, the areas designated as being in moderate to exceptional drought rose to 84 percent as of July 10 from 74 percent a week earlier…

Climatologists have labeled this year’s dry spell a “flash drought” because it developed in a matter of months, not over multiple seasons or years.

The current drought is similar to the droughts of the 1950s, which weren’t as intense as those of the 1930s, said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with the National Climatic Data Center. Farming has changed a lot since the Dust Bowl era. Better soil conservation has reduced erosion, and modern hybrids are much more resistant to drought.

But Crouch said it’s important to understand that this drought is still unfolding. “We can’t say with certainty how long this might last now. Now that we’re going up against the two largest droughts in history, that’s something to be wary of,” Crouch said. “The coming months are really going to be the determining factor of how big a drought it ends up being.”

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