#Drought news

West Drought Monitor February 20, 2018.

From The Monte Vista Journal (Anthony Guerrero):

2017 was a good water year and snowpack, but 2018 is shaping up to be a drought year. This and other statistics about weather patterns in the San Luis Valley were brought by Nolan Doesken, climatologist for the Colorado Water Institute at CSU, during the 2018 Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference. Doesken gave a presentation titled “Recent past weather and a look ahead.”

“You have this beautiful sunshine, yet you really want rain? I don’t understand you all,” joked Doesken. Doesken stated previous years had been okay to average with precipitation that local crops had responded to. This year is looking bleak in terms of water to be expected.

The weather in the Valley is “warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter,” according to Doesken. The Valley is also cooler than other parts of the state and is unique that it expands one of the largest areas of agricultural land in the United States.

“Last summer was a crazy wet year. It’s one of the wettest years we’ve ever seen down here,” said Doesken.

“Falls have been consistently warm for the last several years. You’ve probably noticed that. It’s quite interesting in that regard,” he said…

Doesken then addressed the trends in 2018. “We’re not doing very good,” he said. It is warmer than average temperatures this year. “Do you realize so far this year you’ve had two days where you were in the 60s?” So far 57 days in winter have had high temperatures of 57 or above. According to Doesken this has happened before— in 1981. Records show that was a drought year with no snow in the San Luis Valley.

The temperatures in the Valley are very variable said Doesken. This variance can be seen by simply comparing temperatures at the end of the day, aftertoon and early morning. “There has been days where there have been 50 and 60 degree swings in temperature…that is something you’re used to here but this year has been more extreme than most.”

From The Broomfield Enterprise (Kelley Rawlsky):

Do you need to water the landscape in your yard during the winter? Absolutely yes! Just because some of your trees, shrubs and turf may look dead, they are not. They are dormant. Big difference.

I liken dormancy to when we sleep -— an analogy that would probably make my plant physiology professor cringe. There are still activities going on in our bodies while we slumber. We don’t temporarily die each night then wake up alive again the next day. There are two types of dormancy with woody plants. To learn more, read this online article by Michigan State University Extension: msue.anr.msu.edu/news/winter_dormancy_and_chilling_in_woody_plants…

Remember to water the entire drip line of large established trees. Their root systems are typically spread out to an amount equal to or greater than the height of the tree. A healthy plant is its own best defense against insect and disease issues, so water regularly during the winter to have happy plants in the summer.

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