NOAA’s Climatic Data Center National Overview for June 2014 is hot off the presses

significantclimateeventsjune2014noaa
Click here to go to the website. Here’s an excerpt:

Climate Highlights — June

  • The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during June was 69.6°F, 1.1°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the 33rd warmest June in the 120-year period of record. The average maximum (daytime) June temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 81.8°F, 0.4°F above the 20th century average, while the average minimum (nighttime) June temperature was 57.4°F, 1.7°F above the 20th century average, tying as the 10th warmest June minimum temperature.
  • Above-average June temperatures were observed along the East Coast and into the Midwest. The Southwest was also warmer than average, where Arizona and California both had their 11th warmest June on record. No state had a top 10 warm June.
    Near-average June temperatures were observed from the central Gulf Coast, through the Central Plains, and into the Northwest. Below-average temperatures were observed in the Northern Rockies and parts of the Northern Plains. No state had a top 10 cool June.
  • Interestingly, in much of the Lower Mississippi Valley and mid-South, afternoon temperatures were below average, while nighttime temperatures were much above average. This likely reflects a relatively wet and cloudy summer month acting to moderate both afternoon and overnight temperatures.
  • The June national precipitation total was 3.62 inches, 0.69 inch above the 20th century average, marking the sixth wettest June on record, and the wettest since 1989.
  • A significant portion of the contiguous U.S. — parts of the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and the Great Plains — had above-average precipitation during June. Eight states had one of their 10 wettest Junes on record, with Minnesota being record wet for the month. The 7.75 inches of precipitation averaged across Minnesota was 3.64 inches above the 20th century average, marking the wettest month of any month for the state, surpassing July 1897 and June 1914 when 7.32 inches of precipitation was observed. In Canton, South Dakota, 19.65 inches of precipitation fell during June, setting a new record among all months for any location in the state, according to the South Dakota State Climatologist.
  • Below-average June precipitation was observed in the Southwest, across parts of the coastal Southeast, and southern New England. Arizona tied its third driest June on record, with 0.01 inch of precipitation, 0.28 inch below the 20th century average; only June 1916 and 1951 were drier.
  • Alaska was much wetter than average during June with a statewide precipitation total 53 percent above the 1971-2000 average, the second wettest June for the state. The wettest June occurred in 1980 when the monthly precipitation was 74 percent above average. Juneau and Fairbanks each had their wettest June on record, while Anchorage had its second wettest.
  • According to the July 1 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 34.0 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 3.3 percent compared to the beginning of June.
  • Beneficial rain improved drought conditions by one to three categories across parts of the Midwest and the Central and Southern Plains. Nebraska, which had its fourth wettest June, saw dramatic drought improvement.
  • Warm and dry conditions in parts of the West led to scattered locations experiencing worsening drought conditions. In California, the percent area of the state experiencing exceptional drought, the worst category, expanded to 36.5 percent, up over 11 percent since early June. In the East, abnormally dry conditions expanded in the Tennessee River Valley and southern New England.
    Based on NOAA’s Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during June was 33 percent above average and the 25th highest in the 1895-2014 period of record.
  • There were more record cool high temperature records (676) than record warm high temperature records (391), but warm nighttime temperatures dominated with more record warm low temperatures (1257) than record cold low temperatures (344). When aggregated together, there were more than one and a half times as many record warm daily highs and lows (1648) as record cold daily highs and lows (1020).
  • Northern Water board approves rate increase #ColoradoRiver

    Colorado-Big Thompson Project east slope facilities
    Colorado-Big Thompson Project east slope facilities

    From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

    A number of share holders in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project — the largest water-supply project in northern Colorado — will see assessment costs sharply increase during the next few years, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District board recently decided.

    Although the numbers aren’t set in stone and are subject to change, the board on Friday approved a general outline that over time increases open-assessment fees for municipal and industrial water users from $28 this year to $53.10 by 2018, and increases those fees for agricultural users from $10 this year to $30.20 per unit by 2018.

    The increases won’t apply to those who own fixed-assessment C-BT shares. Those who bought shares before 1959 and still own those shares still pay a fixed assessment of $1.50 per unit. The majority of the city of Greeley’s C-BT shares, for example, are fixed-assessment shares, and won’t be impacted by the changes, according to Brian Werner, public information officer with Northern Water.

    The recently approved uptick for open assessments was made to keep up with the always-increasing expenses at Northern Water, Werner said, noting that the uptick in wildfire-mitigation efforts, water-quality measures and overall regulation, among other expenses, are making it more and more pricey to deliver water from the C-BT’s high-mountain reservoirs to its users across northern Colorado.

    “It’s just another example of how water is getting more and more expensive. There’s no getting around it,” Werner said, noting that, despite Northern Water continuing its efforts to reduce operating costs, the increase in open assessments was needed.

    Increases in water costs are nothing new for users in the state, particularly in northern Colorado, where rapid population growth along the Front Range, large ag use and increased oil-and-gas production have sharply increased demand for water.

    And as supplies have tightened, prices have skyrocketed.

    In January 2013, the price of a water unit in the C-BT Project was about $9,500. Now it’s well over $20,000 per unit.

    But while costs are increasing, Northern water officials stress that, in the global picture, C-BT users are still getting a good deal on good water.

    Werner noted that 1,000 gallons of water is still being delivered to C-BT share holders “for pennies.”

    The C-BT Project collects and delivers on average more than 200,000 acre feet of water each year (about 65 billion gallons). Most of this water is the result of melting snow in the upper Colorado River basin west of the Continental Divide. The project transports the water to the East Slope via a 13.1-mile tunnel beneath Rocky Mountain National Park.

    C-BT water flows to more than 640,000 acres of irrigated farm and ranch land and 860,000 people in portions of eight counties within Northern Water boundaries, according to Northern Water data.

    More Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.

    Garfield County Commissioners approve deep injection well

    Deep injection well
    Deep injection well

    From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

    Garfield County commissioners on Monday approved an oil and gas wastewater injection well near Battlement Mesa after the company responded to concerns that it could trigger earthquakes.

    Duke Cooley, senior geologist at Ursa Resources, told commissioners there’s been no correlation between oil and gas injection wells and earthquakes in northwest Colorado’s Piceance Basin.

    The Battlement Concerned Citizens group and the Battlement Mesa Service Association, a homeowners group for the unincorporated community, had raised the seismic issue amid mounting concern about an apparent correlation between oil and gas injection wells and earthquakes in several states. Last month, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission suspended operation of an injection well in Weld County after a 3.4 magnitude earthquake struck in the Greeley area May 31, followed by smaller quake in June.

    “It was a wake-up call. It was the first seismic event there in 30 years,” Doug Saxton of Battlement Concerned Citizens told Garfield commissioners.

    He cited what he said is a lack of adequate earthquake monitoring by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    “Nothing under 4.0 (magnitude) really gets their attention,” Saxton said.

    Monitoring sites

    He said the agency’s closest monitoring site is 75 miles from Greeley, and the nearest to Battlement Mesa is in the Paradox Valley. He called for the installation of monitoring equipment in the Battlement area and for Ursa to cease injection activity if a quake occurs.

    But Cooley said a local monitoring station isn’t necessary because Geological Survey equipment can detect quakes of less than 1 magnitude hundreds of miles away.

    Garfield County already has 60 approved injection wells, and injection has occurred in 26 of them since 2013, according to the county’s oil and gas liaison, Kirby Wynn. Saxton said Ursa’s would be the seventh within 10 miles of Battlement Mesa.

    Cooley said seismic activity occurs where there has been geological folding, which in the case of the Piceance Basin is around its margins.

    He also said quakes can occur when water is added that reduces friction along a fault plane where geological compression is occurring, in places like Greeley and Oklahoma. The Piceance Basin, by contrast, is now undergoing geological relaxation after previously having been “folded up,” he said.

    State oversight

    Garfield County has surface authority over injection wells but the state oil and gas commission regulates technical “downhole” aspects of the wells such as injection pressure. Lindy Gwinn of Grand Junction, who consults for the industry, told Garfield commissioners Monday, “I can assure you they turn them down when they are not technically correct and there is any risk.”

    She noted that the commission recently did just that in Mesa County. In 2012 it turned down a proposal for an injection well southeast of Grand Junction out of concern it could contaminate ground and surface water due to its shallow depth, and possibly induce earthquakes at the U.S. Department of Energy’s uranium mill tailings disposal site a few miles away.

    That well would have been less than 2,000 feet deep. Ursa’s would be more than a mile deep.

    In agreeing to approve the well, Garfield Commissioner Mike Samson said, “The COGCC, they kind of go over these injection wells with a fine-tooth comb. … I have faith in the COGCC and their very strict regulations that they have.”

    Commissioner Tom Jankovsky agreed, and said if seismic activity did occur in the area, the county would ask companies to cease all injections until the cause could be determined.

    He also encouraged Ursa to install pipelines to the injection well as soon as possible to reduce truck traffic. Ursa officials indicated they hope to do that soon, and that reduced traffic resulting from being able to inject wastewater rather than otherwise dispose of it would be one of the benefits of the well.

    Said Monique Speakman, who supports the proposal and lives on the property where the well will be operated, “It’s going to eliminate truck traffic, noise, dust levels.”

    Battlement Mesa resident Mary Haygood said she had been concerned about both the truck traffic and seismic aspects of the well, but told Ursa officials Monday, “You have allayed my fears somewhat by your explanation and I thank you for that.”

    Ursa already has spent $2 million to drill the well. It needed to do that to do testing required by the oil and gas commission before it can approve the well. The agency is continuing to review the proposal.

    More oil and gas coverage here.

    The Last Drop: America’s Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis — NBC News

    Significant portions of the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest bodies of water in the United States, are at risk of drying up if it continues to be drained at its current rate. Courtesy of MSU
    Significant portions of the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest bodies of water in the United States, are at risk of drying up if it continues to be drained at its current rate. Courtesy of MSU

    From NBCNews.com (Brian Brown):

    The scope of this mounting crisis is difficult to overstate: The High Plains of Texas are swiftly running out of groundwater supplied by one of the world’s largest aquifers – the Ogallala. A study by Texas Tech University has predicted that if groundwater production goes unabated, vast portions of several counties in the southern High Plains will soon have little water left in the aquifer to be of any practical value.

    The Ogallala Aquifer spreads across eight states, from Texas to South Dakota, covering 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles. It’s the fountain of life not only for much of the Texas Panhandle, but also for the entire American Breadbasket of the Great Plains, a highly-sophisticated, amazingly-productive agricultural region that literally helps feed the world.

    This catastrophic depletion is primarily manmade. By the early eighties, automated center-pivot irrigation devices were in wide use – those familiar spidery-armed wings processing in a circle atop wheeled tripods. This super-sized sprinkler system allowed farmers to water crops more regularly and effectively, which both significantly increased crop yields and precipitously drained the Ogallala.

    Compounding the drawdown has been the nature of the Ogallala itself. Created 10 million years ago, this buried fossil water is–in many places—not recharged by precipitation or surface water. When it’s gone, it’s gone for centuries…

    “The depletion of the Ogallala is an internationally important crisis,” says Burke Griggs, Ph.D., consulting professor at the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. “How individual states manage the depletion of that aquifer will obviously have international consequences.”[…]

    “We’re headed for a brick wall at 100 miles per hour,” says James Mahan, Bruce Spinhirne’s father-in-law and a plant physiologist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service lab in Lubbock. “And, really, the effects of climate change are branches hitting the windshield along the way.”

    From NBCNews.com (Brian Brown):

    Last August, in a still-echoing blockbuster study, Dave Steward, Ph.D., and his colleagues at Kansas State University, informed the $15 billion Kansas agricultural economy that it was on a fast track to oblivion. The reason: The precipitous, calamitous withdrawal rates of the Ogallala Aquifer.

    The Ogallala is little known outside this part of the world, but it’s the primary source of irrigation not just for all of western Kansas, but the entire Great Plains. This gigantic, soaked subterranean sponge – fossil water created 10 million years ago – touches eight states, stretching from Texas all the way up to South Dakota, across 111.8 million acres and 175,000 square miles.

    The Ogallala supports a highly-sophisticated and amazingly-productive agricultural region critical to the world’s food supply. With the global population increasing, and as other vital aquifers suffer equally dramatic declines, scientists acknowledge that if the farmers here cannot meet ever-growing food demands, billions could starve.

    Steward’s study predicted that nearly 70 percent of the portion of the Ogallala beneath western Kansas will be gone in 50 years. He’s not the kind of person to shout these results; he speaks slowly and carefully. Yet, he has the evident intensity of one who’s serving a greater purpose. “We need to make sure our grandkids and our great grandkids have the capacity to feed themselves,” he says.

    Now the chief executive of the state, himself from a farming family, is using Steward’s report as a call to action.

    “One of the things we [have] to get over … is this tragedy of the commons problem with the Ogallala,” says Governor Sam Brownback, a Republican who at age 29 was the youngest agriculture secretary in state history. “It’s a big common body of water. It’s why the oceans get overfished … You have a common good and then nobody is responsible for it.”

    “That’s one of the key policy issues that you have to get around,” Brownback says in his roomy, towering office at the capitol in Topeka. “Everyone has to take care of this water.”

    In that spirit, a tiny legion of farmers and landowners in the northwest corner of Kansas, where the Rockies begin their rise, have just begun year two of what could be one of the most influential social experiments of this century.

    The group is only 125 in number but controls 63,000 acres of prime farmland in Sheridan County. Collectively, voluntarily, they have enacted a new, stringent five-year water conservation target, backed by the force of law and significant punishments.

    The Local Enhanced Management Act, or LEMA, is the first measure of its kind in the United States. Specifically, the farmers are limiting themselves to a total of 55 inches of irrigated water over five years – an average of 11 inches per year…

    “So now we have the high morality of the need to protect the ecosphere. But it’s legal to rip the tops off mountains. It’s legal to drill in the Arctic. It’s legal to drill in the Gulf. It’s legal to build pipelines. It’s legal to send carbon into the dumping ground called an atmosphere. So we’ve not yet reconciled the high moral with the legal.” [Wes Jackson]

    More Ogallala aquifer coverage here and here.

    Know the facts: Proposed rule to protect clean water — EPA

    More Environmental Protection Agency coverage here.

    Colorado Water Congress: Initiative 75 withdrawn! #COpolitics

    Click here to go to the CWC Colorado Water Stewardship Project web page.