Drought news: Telluride tables repeal of emergency fire ordinance

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From The Telluride Daily Planet (Collin McRann):

Telluride Town Council members voted Tuesday to table the repeal of an emergency fire ordinance, which has been in place since June. During its Aug. 7 meeting, the council cast one of two required votes to repeal the ordinance. However, due to the uncertainty of its water supply — and a lingering potential for fire — the council decided to table the second vote until its Sept. 18 meeting. The ordinance bans all open fires in the Town of Telluride as well as smoking on combustible surfaces…

When the ordinance was put into place, the area was experiencing one of the worst dry periods in a decade. However, recent monsoonal moisture has given eastern San Miguel County some much-needed rain.

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

There is enough water in storage to serve the Grand Valley for the rest of the year, but providers “are preparing for the unknown in 2013,” said Joe Burtard, chairman of the Drought Response Information Project. “If the snowpack this winter looks anything like last year’s snowpack, then our customers can expect to be placed on mandatory water restrictions.”

The hammer for those restrictions would be Stage II drought rates, which remain to be set, said Burtard, who also is the spokesman for Ute Water. Stage II drought restrictions also would require that restaurants serve water only when requested by customers and curbside vehicle washing would be prohibited. Private swimming pools couldn’t be filled and ornamental fountains would have to be turned off.

“We’ll have a pretty good feel in February” whether water suppliers will have to set rates intended to rein in water use in the face of an even greater drought than the one so far this year, said Dave Reinertsen, assistant general manager of Clifton Water District.

From the Grand Junction Free Press (Scott Condon):

The big shift from warm and dry weather in Colorado dating back to March to cooler and wetter conditions will be triggered by an El Niño replacing a La Niña weather system, [Meteorologist Jack Boston] said. In an El Niño, the water in the Pacific Ocean along the equator warms up and influences the world’s climate. “We expect it to kind of come to a peak as a moderate El Niño around mid-November then back off as a weak El Niño,” Boston said…

The difference this winter from last winter will be colder Canada air masses dropping down into the Plains states, Boston said. That sets up Colorado’s mountains for snow. Last year, AccuWeather and “everybody else” issued what turned out to be a poor forecast, Boston said. The cold air mass settled west of Colorado, so mountains stayed warmer and drier than expected, he said.

AccuWeather is forecasting near-normal temperatures into mid-October and then lower-than-normal temperatures in November and December. Boston said he is “on the fence” about temperatures in the Colorado mountains in September and October. He believes there is a chance those months also will be cooler than usual.

From The Brighton Blade:

The prolonged drought — one of the worst in modern Colorado history — has prompted city officials to declare a Phase 3 drought warning. The warning comes with a number of water restrictions that will be in place through Nov. 1, when winter watering rules will go into effect. Residents are restricted to watering their yard only every third day under the restrictions, and turf watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Additionally, large irrigation users such as farms will be asked to curb consumption by 25 percent through October.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Lisa Walton):

Monday’s high of 90 put Colorado Springs at 44 days of scorching 90-degree heat this year, tying last year’s record. National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Wankowski said Colorado Springs will likely topple last year’s record as the hottest by Tuesday or Wednesday. Since 1893, Colorado Springs has hit 100 degrees only seven times. Three of those came in the last week of June: June 23, when the Waldo Canyon fire erupted, June 24 and June 26, the hottest day in Colorado Springs history.

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