#Snowpack/#Drought news: Is there snow on the horizon for Fort Collins?

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map March 26, 2017 via the NRCS.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

Weekend rains dropped up to half an inch of rain on parts of a parched Choice City, and more rain is on the forecast for this week. But with one week left of what’s historically our snowiest month of the year, forecasters are divided on whether we’ll see any measurable snow at all.

The Coloradoan’s official Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network rain gauge at 1300 Riverside Avenue recorded 0.16 of an inch of rain Sunday…

Meanwhile, our lack of snow is becoming downright strange.

Fort Collins receives an average of 12.6 inches of snow in March, according to 1981-2010 normals from the Colorado Climate Center. This March, we’ve received only a trace of snow. Fort Collins hasn’t seen measurable snow in about a month, since a late-February storm left us with about 3.4 inches and 0.1 inches fell on the last day of February.

We’re also way behind on precipitation this month, with 0.19 inches compared to a normal amount of 1.31 inches by March 26. Rains this week should inch us a bit closer to the monthly normal of 1.59 inches, but barring any big downpours, we’ll probably still fall short for March.

The lack of moisture matters because Fort Collins has been in a drought since August. Our drought classification was recently elevated to “severe,” the third of five levels of drought intensity. The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center predicts we’ll remain in drought during the next three months.

If drought persists, residents can expect damage to crops and pastures, developing or imminent water shortages and a request for voluntary water-use restrictions. Snowpack in the South Platte River Basin mountains, which make up much of our regional water supply, has been steadily slipping during the last few weeks and now sits at 103 percent of the average for this time of year.

A snowless March is highly unusual but not unprecedented in Fort Collins. It’s happened about six times in recorded history, most recently in 2011 and 2012, when historic drought covered the state and Fort Collins received a trace of snow in March. The last March before that with no measurable snow was March 1966.

West Drought Monitor March 21, 2017.

2017 #coleg: SB17-036 — Appellate Process Concerning Groundwater Decisions clears State House

Colorado Capitol building

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Charles Ashby):

House Bill 1151, introduced by Reps. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, and Chris Hansen, D-Denver, removes electric bicycles from the motor vehicle definition as long as they don’t go too fast.

Under the bill, the bicycles are considered electrical only when the rider is pedaling and its motor ceases when the bike reaches speeds of 20 to 28 mph depending on which of three classes the bicycles fall under.

The measure cleared the House 52-13 in late February. When the Senate took up the bill earlier this month, it made one change, which Hansen and Willett made fun of when the House gave its final approval on Monday…

The measure bars anyone under the age of 16 from riding a class 3 electric bike except as a passenger, and then they must wear a helmet…

The House gave final approval to a bill Monday that would prevent parties that appeal to district court water rights decisions made by the Colorado Ground Water Commission from introducing new evidence in the court.

The measure, SB36, tries to address an issue that its sponsors — Sens. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Don Coram, R-Montrose — said was an unfair one. Currently, parties that appeal such water decisions by the commission could present new evidence not heard by the commission.

The two lawmakers said that was unfair to ranchers and farmers who couldn’t afford to retry whole cases.

Scott and Coram tried to get the bill through last year’s Legislature, but failed because of heavy lobbying, much of which came from former Gov. Bill Owens, who at the time was working with a land and water development company.