Drought news: ‘This is one of those nice, light rains, nothing real big or intense’ — Jennifer Stark (NWS)

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Gayle Perez):

Rain returned to Pueblo on Wednesday bringing with it much needed moisture and cooler temperatures. “This is one of those nice, light rains, nothing real big or intense,” said Jennifer Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. “This is more of a typical fall-type system but I think we’re all very happy for the beneficial rain.”

Cooler air moved into Pueblo early Wednesday bringing light rain early on with intermittent showers falling throughout the day. By 8 p.m., one-half of an inch of rain was reported at the Pueblo Airport with additional accumulations expected to continue through this morning.

From the Associated Press via The Pueblo Chieftain:

[Yesterday’s] storm [was] expected to bring up to 10 inches to some of Colorado’s central and southern mountains. The National Weather Service says snow could be heavy in the eastern Sawatch mountains and western Mosquito Range above 11,000 feet on Wednesday. In other parts of the state, the precipitation has been falling as rain and temperatures were expected to be about 20 degrees cooler than in recent days.

From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

Officials have 99 years of flow records for the Animas River, Rege Leach, the Colorado Division of Water Resources engineer in Durango, said Friday. There are 95 years of records for the La Plata River and 101 years for the Dolores River. “They all show the same trend,” Leach said. “The year 2002 was the driest, followed by 1934, 1977 and 2012.”

The Animas River at Durango on Sunday was flowing at 164 cubic feet per second, lower than the 172 cfs registered at the end of June 2002, the month that the Missionary Ridge Fire was burning 72,000 acres in the San Juan Mountains…

The La Plata River, with half of its flow at Hesperus required to be delivered to New Mexico, is hurting, Leach said. Barely 1 cubic foot a second of flow is reaching the state line from the Long Hollow area, also just north of the state line, he said. Except for holders of senior water rights, ditches off the Florida River have been closed…

Bruce Whitehead, executive director of the Southwestern Water Conservation District and the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District, said the flow of water into Lake Powell mirrors the woes of Southwest Colorado. Lake Powell is set this year to get 48 percent of its normal flow, the third lowest ever, he said. But, go figure, Whitehead said. Last year, Lake Powell received 142 percent of normal flow.

From the Summit Daily News (Chris Campton):

In mid-April 2012, it looked as if we were headed down another dry riverbed season, and another “2002,” where commercial boating user days were down 40 percent from the previous year. We will not know until January, when all the final numbers are in and compiled, what the toll of this year’s drought took on commercial boating and in turn the economic impact on the state. However, initial thoughts are that it will not be as grim as it was in 2002. What may have hurt the industry the most in 2012 was not necessarily the drought itself, rather the perception of water levels throughout the state.

Commercial boating is the largest tourism-related economic draw for Colorado in the summer months and just last year 508,644 guests enjoyed the rivers of Colorado, and it created an economic impact of $155,157,888. Add in the private boaters that enjoy the rivers of Colorado, and that impact to our state grows to even greater numbers…

On a brighter note, water levels and warm temperatures in 2012 saw many families choose to raft that had decided not to brave the higher flows of 2011. This year, water levels on many rivers provided them with more viable options and great beginner trips such as the ones commercial outfitters run on the Colorado River. The Colorado is a river that typically runs well in a drought year and boasts steady flows throughout the summer months. And it prevailed to do so once again in 2012. Due to reservoir storage, senior water rights and calls from downstream users, the water on the Colorado traveled west and as a benefit of being close to the headwaters, the commercial and private boaters were able to float on “average” flows this summer. The good boating opportunities stretched all the way from Kremmling to the Colorado State Line, and beyond.

From the Boulder Daily Camera (John Agular):

Across the city’s 23 parks, Lafayette has suspended irrigation a month early to prepare for the possibility that 2013 will be as dry as this year has been. Only high traffic sports fields at City Park, Whitetail Park and Lamont Does Park will continue to be watered.

“What we’re doing is making sure we’re proactively planning in case the drought continues into next year,” city spokeswoman Debbie Wilmot said. “We’re pushing dormancy up by a month.”[…]

in spite of the water conservation measures implemented by the city, residential water use in Lafayette in 2012 jumped 38 percent — or by 551 acre feet — through August over the same period in the previous year. Wilmot said the spike in water use likely is due to the extremely hot weather Colorado has endured this year, starting in the early spring.

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