From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):
This weekend’s storm didn’t live up to its billing as a blizzard, but it was enough to further ease the minds of local farmers, who will begin spring planting soon and were nervous to do so until the recent rounds of moisture wetted their parched soil. During the last week of February and through this past weekend, the Greeley area has received about a foot of snow, according to numbers from the University of Northern Colorado.
Through Feb. 20, the area had only received about one-third of its average precipitation in 2013, but now, thanks to the recent snowstorms, it’s nearly 30 percent ahead of normal. “It’s definitely enough now to get a crop going,” said Dave Eckhardt, whose family will begin planting onions at the start of April, and then plant corn, sugar beets and dry beans during the following weeks. “Before these last couple snow storms, it was looking a little dicey.”
Soil moisture is critical in helping seeds germinate after planting.
Before the recent storms, local farmers didn’t have much to work with. The wetter the soil at planting time, the less supplemental irrigation water is needed right at the start. Eckhardt added that the recent rounds of snow provided a boost to his winter wheat crop, which was planted in the fall and will soon come out its winter dormancy. For months, timely snow and rain had provided just enough moisture to keep alive local winter wheat, a drought-tolerant crop. Farmers had said in early February that moisture would be needed later in the month or in early March to give the crop the moisture it needs to come out its dormancy — and farmers have gotten just that during the last couple weeks, Eckhardt said.
The recent moisture has also been a boost for ranchers, who need a resurrection of their pasture grass — much of which was depleted during last year’s drought.
While the soil on the Front Range now seems moist enough for spring planting, more snow is still needed in the mountains, Eckhardt added. Farmers depend heavily on winter and spring snows on higher ground to provide runoff that fills reservoirs and irrigation ditches for the growing season. Many of the crops grown in northern Colorado — onions, sugar beets, corn — need more than the precipitation that falls on the region, so building up snowpack in the mountains each year is critical for farmers in need of supplemental water. However, according to the most recent snowpack figures from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, statewide snowpack was only at about 75 percent of historic average on Friday, and was at its lowest in the South Platte River Basin, sitting at 65 percent of average.
“We at least have enough moisture here in the ground to work with. That’s a good thing,” Eckhardt said. “If we can just get those two or three decent snowstorms in the mountains, we’ll really start feeling better.”
All that recent snow and #CORiver snowpack is barely up w/ 2002 levels – 68% of avg for @denverwater sites twitter.com/DrewBeckwith/s…
— Drew Beckwith (@DrewBeckwith) March 11, 2013
Weekend snow doesn’t do much for S. Platte snowpack either – 53% of avg for @denverwater sites. #CODrought twitter.com/DrewBeckwith/s…
— Drew Beckwith (@DrewBeckwith) March 11, 2013
From the Fort Collins Coloradoan:
Concerns over the ongoing drought and its impact on water supplies have prompted Fort Collins officials to implement outdoor watering restrictions effective April 1 with lawn watering limited to two days a week.
• Even-numbered residential addresses: Thursday and Sunday
• Odd-numbered addresses: Wednesday and Saturday
• Commercial/businesses, multi-family and HOAs: Tuesday and Friday
Restriction do not apply to watering of trees, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables.
From The Fort Morgan Times (John La Porte):
Morgan County received up to six inches of blowing, drifting snow from a Saturday snowstorm, and continuing winds made travel difficult in some rural areas of the county Sunday and Monday morning.
From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamela Dickman):
In Loveland, utilities staffers have begun to develop a plan to restrict watering based on levels of supply and will take that plan to Loveland City Council at a May 14 study session. “We won’t see anything before June,” said Greg Dewey, engineer with the Loveland utility…
And even with two recent snows, the amount accumulated in the mountains to feed cities, towns and farmers this summer is well below average. The upper Colorado and South Platte basins, which feed the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, are sitting at 76 percent and 69 percent of average respectively. The numbers increased slightly with the wet snow that fell over the weekend — 2 percent in the Upper Colorado and 3 percent in the South Platte from Friday to Monday.