Drought news: Below normal precipitation predicted for the southwest US through November 1

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:


The major weather system that affected much of the nation’s midsection last week left abundant precipitation this week from the mid-Atlantic up into New England. Hurricane Ana lost strength as it approached Hawaii and Tropical Storm Ana passed south of the Hawaiian Island dumping up to 10 inches of rain in its path…

The Plains

Heavy rain moved through the Plains last week and improvements in drought conditions were reflected then. This week was a relatively dry week in the region. There was some slight improvement in Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Kansas to line up more precisely with the beneficial precipitation of last week. Conversely, there was a slight expansion of Extreme Drought (D3) and Abnormal Dryness (D0) in Texas during this Drought Monitor week as areas of the Texas panhandle and central Texas have missed the beneficial rains…

The West

Moisture fell in areas of the extreme Southwest and in the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest this Drought Monitor week. As a result, areas of Moderate (D1) and Severe Drought (D2) were reduced in southwest New Mexico around Hidalgo County. Likewise the area of Extreme Drought (D3) was reduced in the northeast part of the state near San Juan County. There are numerous reports of improvement in pasture and grassland conditions but longer-term deficits remain over much of the state, resulting in conservative improvements. The same is true in the Pacific Northwest. Despite recent rains along the coast, long-term deficits are still being felt so improvement was held in check for another week. The rain has reduced the fire danger. As of October 17, only two large fires are burning in the country and they are both in California. To date, there have been 41,790 wildfires in 2014 that burned 3,070,737 acres. This is well below the 62,864 fire and 6,796,329 acre average of the last ten years (source: National Interagency Fire Center)…

Looking Ahead

During the October 22- 27, 2014 time period, precipitation is expected in the Pacific Northwest, southern Florida, and New England. Warmer than normal temperatures are expected throughout most of the interior of the nation.

For the ensuing 5 days (October 28- November 1, 2014), the odds favor normal to above-normal temperatures across country with the exception of southeast Alaska. Above-normal precipitation is likely from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest, as well as in southern Florida and northwest Alaska. Below-normal precipitation is expected in a wide area from the Southwest through the Southern Plains and Southeast and up through the Lower Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic and New England, as well as southeast Alaska.

Water Resources interim committee update #COleg

Taylor Reservoir location map via The Durango Herald
Taylor Reservoir location map via The Durango Herald

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Ellen Roberts):

Traveling around my district for meetings and events is always a scenic journey and the fall colors have been spectacular. Seeing more of the mountaintops with snow is also beautiful.

That snow making an appearance at higher elevations gives me hope that winter in the southern half of Colorado will bring more moisture than we had last year. Rains in the late summer and early fall have helped, but they also bring the rapid growth of the forest understory that dries out, becoming a wildfire’s kindling.

Water and wildfire issues continued to dominate my work over the last month as the interim committees on these topics wrapped up our Denver meetings. New bill ideas came out of those committees and I’ll be carrying a few of those as the Senate sponsor.

The water resources interim committee also completed its task of holding public hearings in each of the state’s water basins on the idea and contents of a state water plan. We held these hearings in Gunnison, Glenwood Springs, Durango, Alamosa, Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Walden, Fort Collins and Denver.

While the conversations were spirited and strong concerns raised on different points, we legislators were welcomed in each area by the basin roundtables and general public. Much appreciation was expressed for our outreach to hear the viewpoints.

The many miles on the road in attending all of the water hearings was valuable time spent for me and reinforced how different the water basins are across our state. Accessing water supplies, whether from the ground’s surface or from underground aquifers, is a challenge nearly everywhere, but the dynamics are different in each region. For example, some aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate while, in the upper northeast corner of the state, basements and farmers’ fields are being flooded by groundwater.

That Colorado can do more on water conservation on the individual and municipal levels was raised by the public at each hearing. Some spoke to this having moved here from other dry, western states and suggestions for improvements were abundant. During the roundtable discussions and in the public comment period of each hearing, attendees mentioned that sufficient water availability in their homes, but also in the environment, directly impacts the quality of life values they hold dear as Coloradans.

Not surprisingly, there’s much concern from Western Slope residents that their communities will be dewatered for the benefit of Front Range urban populations. Another theme raised, statewide, was the importance of keeping food production nearby, recognizing that would only be possible if farming and ranching remain viable pursuits, with sufficient water needed for that food production.

More storage was also repeatedly mentioned at these hearings as a way for Colorado to address the water supply gap. It was recognized that this could mean expansion of existing reservoirs, but also likely would require the construction of new storage projects.

The recent dedication of the new Taylor reservoir in La Plata County is encouraging to many as this storage will help Colorado meet its water delivery requirements to New Mexico and make available more water to that area’s agricultural community. This project was completed with the participation and financial assistance of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe, support from the Southern Ute tribe and the state of Colorado, which is also encouraging.

More 2015 Colorado legislation coverage here.

Denver Water is close to 100 years old! Take a look at our very first employees, from 1918