The latest ENSO discussion is hot off the presses from the Climate Prediction Center

Click here to read the discussion. Here’s an excerpt:

ENSO Alert System Status: La Niña Watch

Synopsis: La Niña conditions are favored (~55-65%) during the Northern Hemisphere fall and
winter 2017-18.

During September, ENSO-neutral conditions were reflected in near-to-below average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across most of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. The weekly Niño indices were volatile during the month, with negative values increasing to near zero during the past week in the Niño-4, Niño-3.4, and Niño-3 regions. In contrast, sub-surface temperature anomalies were increasingly negative during September, reflecting the shallow depth of the thermocline across the central and eastern Pacific. Also, convection was suppressed near the International Date Line and enhanced near Indonesia. Over the western equatorial Pacific Ocean, low-level trade winds were anomalously easterly and upper-level winds were anomalously westerly. Overall, the ocean and atmosphere system remains consistent with ENSO-neutral, although edging closer to La Niña conditions.

For the upcoming Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2017-18, a weak La Niña is favored in the dynamical model averages of the IRI/CPC plume and North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME). Several models indicate a period of near-average Niño-3.4 values in the upcoming weeks, but then predict reinvigorated growth of negative SST anomalies across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. These forecasts are supported by the ongoing easterly wind anomalies across portions of the Pacific Ocean and the reservoir of below-average subsurface temperatures. In summary, La Niña conditions are favored (~55-65%) during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2017-18 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).

#Drought news: Small changes in depiction for W. #Colorado

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


At the beginning of the drought week, a cold front stretched from the Upper Mississippi Valley southwestward across the Central Plains and far southern Rockies. East and south of this front, daytime temperatures reached the 70’s and 80’s, with the exception of New England which topped out only in the 60’s. During the ensuing 48 hours, the progressive northern portion of the cold front reached the New England coast, while the southern portion remained over the Central Plains. This area, from the Northeast across the Midwest to the south-central Great Plains, served as the focus for much of this week’s precipitation. By Saturday, the southern portion of this frontal boundary made some eastward progress, apparently in response to an approaching 500-hPa shortwave trough. This overall setup was conducive to steering Hurricane Nate northward from the central Gulf of Mexico to the central Gulf Coast, where it made landfall as a category-1 hurricane near the mouth of the Mississippi River, on Saturday night. The remnants of Nate brought additional rainfall to the Appalachians and Atlantic Coast states on Sunday and Monday…

High Plains

In much of northern and central Kansas, a one-category improvement was rendered to the depiction, in areas that received 1-3 inches of rain above their normal weekly amounts. In contrast, D0 was introduced to southeastern Kansas, which experienced another dry week coupled with warmer-than-normal temperatures. In southeastern Nebraska, D1 was removed this week, and the “S” impact label in the western panhandle was changed to “L”, primarily due to recent wetness and the end of the growing season for summer crops. In southeastern South Dakota, additional trimming of the D0 area was performed, as anywhere from 2-6 inches of precipitation has fallen in the past two weeks. The Impacts line was adjusted accordingly. A hard frost (28 degrees F or colder) was reported on the morning of October 10th, bringing the growing season to an end for most of the state…


During the past two weeks, PNPs in most of California remained below the 25th percentile. At 30-day and 60-day timescales, the PNP pattern reveals isolated areas of 150% or more in the Sierras, southwestern, and far southern California. Rivers and streams remain in the lowest quarter of the observed distribution statewide. Firefighting resources have been taxed severely this week with the wildfires raging across north-central California; especially in and around Santa Rosa (Sonoma and Napa Counties). Precipitation that fell in the past 1-2 weeks favored the trimming away of some D0 in western New Mexico this week. However, D0 was retained in much of Caltron and Cibola counties, based on ACIS SPIs out through the past 120-days, low stream flows, and AHPS PNPs out to 60-days. In Arizona, the short-term drought status report for September, produced by the State Drought Monitoring Technical Committee, provided a recap of the Southwest Monsoon season. It noted that the majority of monsoon season rainfall fell between mid-July and early-August. This was followed by below-average rainfall and warm temperatures, which contributed to late-summer dryness. With the monsoon season therefore ending earlier than usual, much of southeastern, eastern, and central Arizona ended up with D0. In western Colorado, small-scale improvements were made thanks to beneficial precipitation that fell during the past two weeks. All short-term SPIs, and most longer-term SPIs are now showing conditions have returned to near-normal in these areas. Some one-class improvements were made in central and northeastern Montana this week. Reassessment of conditions next week in western and southeastern Montana may yield additional changes as well…

Looking Ahead

During the upcoming 5-day period (October 12-16), a band of heavy rain (2-3 inches) is predicted from southeastern Iowa across Lower Michigan to extreme northern Maine, with similar totals anticipated over extreme southeastern Florida, and the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. One to two inches of rain is forecast over portions of the mid-Atlantic region. This raises the possibility of drought relief next week from the Midwest into northern Maine.

During the 6-10 day period (October 17-21), odds for above-normal precipitation are elevated over the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies, as well as over Florida. Odds for below-normal precipitation are enhanced across most of the Great Plains, the southern Rockies, eastern portions of the Southern Intermountain Region, from the Ohio Valley and central Great Lakes region to the New England coast, and southwestern and south-central Alaska.

Kids imagine a world without water, and it ain’t pretty – News on TAP

Do they really understand that water is life? We asked our own kids.

Source: Kids imagine a world without water, and it ain’t pretty – News on TAP

@COParksWildlife: Open houses set for draft AHRA management plan and environmental assessment

Here’s the release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Bill Vogrin):

The public is invited to a series of open houses and to offer written input on the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) Draft Management Plan and Environmental Assessment proposed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Open houses on the draft will be held during the third week of October in Colorado Springs, Buena Vista and Cañon City. The public is invited to make comments until Nov. 10.

The AHRA Management Plan and Environmental Assessment provide a framework for managing numerous recreation activities along the 152-mile river corridor. The release of this draft plan follows a comprehensive review of environmental, recreational and cultural resources along with extensive public involvement and review of public input.

The BLM, USFS and CPW carefully considered key issues identified through a scoping process in 2016. These included boating capacities, management of fisheries and wildlife habitat, public river access and facilities.

The draft outlines four alternatives for future management in the recreation area, providing a diversity of recreation opportunities from primitive lower use/development opportunities to urban higher use/development opportunities.

Public input will be used by the AHRA partnership as it prepares its final management plan and environmental assessment. The agencies hope to release the final document by early 2018.

The AHRA partnership manages river-based recreation through Browns Canyon National Monument. The BLM and USFS manage the 21,589-acre Browns Canyon National Monument, which was designated in 2015.

An explanation of the planning process, links to the draft plan and a public comment form can be found here:

Public Open Houses

5:30-7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 23
CPW Southeast Regional Office
4255 Sinton Road, Colorado Springs, 80907

5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 24
BLM Royal Gorge Field Office
3028 E. Main St., Cañon City, 81212

5:30-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25
Buena Vista Community Center
715 E. Main St., Buena Vista, 81211

For more information about the AHRA, contact the recreation area at 719-539-7289, or visit the Visitor Center at the corner of G and Sackett Streets in Salida.

The Arkansas River is the most commercially rafted river in the U.S., drawing nearly 240,000 commercial boaters and generating an economic impact of more than $60 million annually. AHRA visitors enjoy rafting, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking, wildlife watching, mountain biking, rock climbing and even gold panning along the river’s 152 miles of shoreline and surrounding canyons, valleys and towering mountain peaks found within the upper Arkansas River valley.​​​​​​​​

Important note: All comments and personal identifying information – including your name, address, phone number and e-mail address – may be subject to public disclosure under Colorado’s Open Records Act, or CORA.

Three reasons for optimism about climate change — The Mountain Town News

Coyote Gulch’s Leaf connected in the parking garage in Winter Park, August 21, 2017.

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Despite Trump, train has already left the station, says former Obama aide

U.S. President Donald Trump has initiated steps to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement and end the Clean Power Plan. But a former advisor to President Barack Obama was anything but gloomy recently as he cited three major reasons for optimism.

Brian Deese said one reason was that economic growth has been decoupled from growth in carbon emissions. This was discovered as the United States emerged from the recession. Obama was in Hawaii when Deese informed him of the paradigm shift that had been observed.

Brian Deese photo credit

“I don’t believe you,” Obama said, according to the story Deese told in a forum on the University of Colorado campus that was sponsored by the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research.

Chastened, Deese double-checked his sources. He had been right. Always before, when the economy grew, so did greenhouse gas emissions. Now, the two have been decoupled. This decoupling blunts the old argument that you couldn’t have economic growth while tackling climate change. The new evidence is that you can have growth and reverse emissions.

The second reason for optimism, despite the U.S. exit from Paris, is that other countries have stepped up. Before, there was a battle between the developed countries, including the United States, and China, Indian and other still-developing countries. Those developing countries said they shouldn’t have to bear the same burden in emissions reductions.

But now, those same countries — Chna, India and others — want to keep going with emissions reductions even as the United States falters. They want to become the clean-energy superpowers.

“China, India and others are trying to become the global leaders in climate change. They see this as enhancing their economic and political interests,” he said. “They want to win the race.”

That same day, the Wall Street Journal reported in a front-page story that China plans to force automakers to accelerate production of electric vehicles by 2019. The move, said the newspaper, is the “latest signal that officials across the globe are determined to phase out traditional internal combustion engines that use gasoline and diesel fuels in favor of environmentally friendly vehicles powered by batteries, despite consumer reservations.”

The story went on to note that India has a goal to sell only electric vehicles by 2030 while the U.K. and France are aiming to end sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040.

In the telling of the change Deese said this shift came about at least partly as the result of an unintended action — and, ironically, one by the United States. Because of China’s fouled air, the U.S. embassy in Beijing and other diplomatic offices in China had installed air quality monitors, to guide U.S. personnel in decisions regarding their own health.

Enter the smart phone, which became ubiquitous in China around 2011 to 2012. The Chinese became aware of a simple app that could be downloaded to gain access to the air quality information. In a short time, he said, tens and then hundreds of millions of Chinese began agitating about addressing globalized air pollution, including emissions that are warming the climate.

A third reason for optimism, said Deese, is that Trump’s blustery rhetoric has galvanized support for addressing climate change. Some 1,700 businesses, including Vail Resorts, have committed to changes and 244 cities, representing 143 million people, have also said they want to briskly move toward renewable energy generation.

To this, Deese would like to add the conservation community, by which he seemed to mean hunters and fishermen. “In the United States, we need to reach people where they are, and communicate to them how they are being affected by climate change,” he said.

He also thinks scientists need to step up to advocate. “Use your voice,” said Deese, now a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The rest of the world is there.”

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West

Upper Colorado River Basin month to date precipitation through October 9, 2017.

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.

Arkansas Valley Ag Water Alliance tour recap

Photo of Crowley County by Jennifer Goodland

From The La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Candace Krebs):

The Arkansas Valley is a leader in finding innovative methods for sharing water between thirsty municipalities miles away and local farms heavily dependent on waterways that flow through the sparsely populated plains, according to the host of a recent agricultural water tour.

In the shadow of Crowley County, where most of the irrigation water was sold out from under productive farmland decades ago, farmers here have been more willing to look at alternatives than in some of Colorado’s other basins, according to Greg Peterson, executive director of the Colorado Ag Water Alliance.

The alliance, along with partner organizations National Young Farmers Coalition, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, recently hosted an educational tour to show how irrigation water is being managed and conserved at several sites between Avondale and Rocky Ford.

Peterson told the tour group that relinquishing claims on the water through alternative transfer methods remains a touchy subject…

Water that once flowed out of the mountains to replenish the prairies increasingly reverses course and heads back upstream through a series of pipelines, pump stations and reservoirs to accommodate surging metropolitan growth.

What happened in Crowley County, in particular, has been the source of hard feelings that still linger.

“There are less than a dozen of us still farming along our ditch,” said Matt Heimerich, who farms near Ordway and serves as the Lower Arkansas Valley Conservation Director for the Palmer Land Trust.

Farmers sold water to put their kids through college or in some cases simply to buy modern appliances they’d done without over a lifetime of backbreaking work, he said. By no means was the choice an easy one…

The Palmer Land Trust is working to develop programs that make it possible to move water around on a temporary basis without permanently drying up farmland. Another goal is to create incentives to dry up marginal ground first rather than forfeit what is most productive.

Remembering back to his experiences during the harsh droughts of the early 2000s, Heimerich said leasing water and fallowing land during drought years might be the most logical solution for everyone involved…

Lease-sharing of water is a relatively new invention, and farmers are approaching it cautiously, in some cases dipping a toe in to test the water, so to speak.

During a tour of the packing shed at Hirakata Farms, where cardboard bins were filled with watermelons and bright orange pumpkins, owners and cousins Glenn and Michael Hirakata explained why they decided to participate in the Catlin Canal lease-fallow pilot program in 2015 along with five other farmers.

“We wanted to get in on this from the ground floor,” Glenn Hirakata said. “Since it’s a pilot program, we’re not locked into it.”