#Drought news: Expansion of drought in west central #Colorado due to worsening conditions

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


While subnormal temperatures overspread the Northwest, a strong and persistent Bermuda high over the Atlantic Ocean kept the East unseasonably warm and humid while hindering cold fronts from advancing eastward into the region. As a result, stalled fronts over the Nation’s mid-section became a focal point for widespread heavy showers and thunderstorms, especially from the central Great Plains northeastward into the western Great Lakes region. Parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan saw over 5 inches of rain for the week, with locally 10-15 inches of rain in southern Wisconsin. Needless to say, major improvements were made in the Midwest. Tropical showers also occurred along the Gulf Coast, and later in the week Tropical Storm Gordon formed in the eastern Gulf and tracked northwestward toward Mississippi. Scattered showers also fell on parts of the Four Corner Region, the northern Plains, upper Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and western New England. Little or no rain was observed in the West, northern and central Rockies, north-central High Plains, across sections of the interior Southeast, eastern Corn Belt, and coastal New England…


Early in the week, a trough of low pressure brought scattered showers and thunderstorms to the central and western Gulf, dumping 2-6 inches of rain along the coast, with locally over 10 inches. The rains were enough to eliminate short-term deficits and improve the D0-D1 areas in southern Louisiana and western Mississippi by a category. Scattered showers (1-2 inches) also fell on northwestern Louisiana, shrinking some of the D2 and D3 areas near Shreveport. The Gulf rains also provided relief across southeastern Texas, while heavy Day7 rains (3-8 inches) between Laredo and San Antonio fell on a large D2-D3 area, putting a substantial dent into the drought. North-south bands of scattered showers were observed in portions of central and northeastern Texas, slightly decreasing the D2 and D3 areas. In western Texas, a calibration between the radar-based precipitation totals (AHPS) versus gauge-based (ACIS) and other indices showed a wet bias in the radar-based precipitation, thus some additional deterioration was shown in this region, with more areas of D2 and D3 depicted. A spot of D4 was added near Amarillo. In addition, the fifth warmest summer on record for Texas exacerbated the dryness. In Oklahoma, spotty rains (1-2 inches) eased drought in the extreme western Panhandle, and in southwestern and northeastern sections. Similarly, scattered rains in extreme northern and eastern Arkansas erased some D0 there…

High Plains

Rainfall amounts were either lacking or light across most of the High Plains, except for very heavy rains (2-6 inches, locally higher) in eastern Kansas and southeastern Nebraska (associated with the copious rains in the Midwest), and light to moderate (0.5-2 inches) in parts of the Dakotas and southeastern Colorado. In Kansas and southeastern Nebraska, 2-8 inches of rain caused a 1-2 category drought improvement across southeastern Nebraska and northeastern and southeastern Kansas, while 1-3 inches of rain in far western Kansas was good for a 1-category reduction. Unfortunately, the core D3-D4 drought area in east-central Kansas received much lower totals (less than an inch), and little or no improvements were made there. Farther north, drier weather this week and out to the last 60-days has slowly increased short-term deficits, resulting in some minor deterioration in northeastern Montana, northern North Dakota, central and northeastern South Dakota. While continuing rains eased drought in southeastern Colorado into northeastern New Mexico, worsening conditions in west-central Colorado slightly expanded the D4 there. Monsoonal showers were widely scattered across eastern Arizona and most of New Mexico, but most areas were unchanged…


A drier than normal Water Year during the cold season (October 2017-April 2018) with less mountain snow than normal in the southern two-thirds of the West (used for spring and summer snow melt runoff), combined with a very warm and exceptionally dry summer (May-August 2018), has produced numerous negative impacts. This was most notable in Oregon where the combination of a poor winter snowpack and a hot and dry summer have produced widespread poor pasture and range conditions and very low stream flows and livestock ponds, and required water hauling, supplemental hay, and delayed forest harvesting, along with reduced livestock herds. The 4-month (May-Aug) SPEI, which takes into account temperatures and evapotranspiration with the precipitation, was below -1.5 in western Washington and Oregon by the end of August, and also in parts of eastern Oregon, northern Washington, and northern California. But since the cold season WY (Oct-Apr) was wetter and snowier in Washington and northeastern Oregon, most of the expanded D2 and D3 was added to areas with both a poor 4-month (summer) and 11-month (Oct-Aug) SPEI, namely central Oregon. Based upon the SPEI, D1 was also expanded in northwestern Washington, and D2 increased into southwestern Washington, southeastern Oregon, extreme northern California, northwestern Utah, and extreme northern Idaho where very low stream flows were occurring in the latter area. In contrast, some isolated heavy rains in southeastern Arizona (Graham County) slightly improved D2 to D1 where a short-term surplus existed…

Looking Ahead

For the ensuing 5 days (September 6-10), heavy rain is expected from the southern Plains northeastward into the mid-Atlantic, with the Midwest drought area once again targeted for additional copious rainfall. Most of Texas and Oklahoma should also see substantial totals, as should the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic. Moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon will contribute to some of these large precipitation amounts. Most of the West, northern Rockies and Plains, parts of the interior Southeast, and coastal New England are forecast to get little or no rain. 5-day temperatures should average below-normal in the Nation’s midsection where the rain is expected, while above-normal readings return to the West.

For the CPC 6-10 day extended range outlook (Sep. 11-15), the odds favor above normal precipitation along the Gulf and Atlantic Coast States, the Pacific Northwest, northern Plains, and upper Midwest. In contrast, subnormal rainfall is likely in the central U.S. and western Great Lakes region which should be welcome after heavy rains that have fallen and are expect to occur in the next 5 days. The southern half of Alaska is favored for subnormal precipitation. Most of the Nation from the Rockies eastward (and Alaska) should see above-normal temperature, with odds for subnormal readings limited to the Northwest, Texas, and eastern Alaska.

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

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

#AnimasRiver: Wildfire (#416fire) runoff has severely impacted fish populations #ActOnClimate

Debris flow from 416 Fire. Photo credit: Twitter #416Fire hash tag

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo) via The Cortez Journal:

A fish count in the Animas River on Tuesday found populations have been drastically affected by deadly runoff from the 416 Fire burn scar.

Fish kills because of ash and dirt washing into the river started in mid-July, but a massive rain event around July 17 likely killed most of the fish in the waterway, wildlife officials said at the time.

The dirty runoff lowers the oxygen content in water, suffocating fish, which have been further stressed by abnormally low flows and high water temperatures.

For the first time since the 416 Fire runoff events, wildlife managers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducted a fish survey to better understand the extent of the fish kill.

Usually, CPW will use an electrofishing device from a raft to stun fish to survey two 1,000-foot sections of the Animas River: from Durango High School to the Ninth Street Bridge and from Cundiff Park to the High Bridge.

This year, low flows forced wildlife managers to use an electrofishing device from the banks and from in the river.

Jim White, an aquatic biologist for CPW, said in a normal year, a survey will find somewhere around 40 brown trout and 40 rainbow trout in the stretch from Cundiff Park to the High Bridge.

This year, CPW found one brown trout and one rainbow trout in that stretch and no molted sculpin, a small native species of fish that’s a key food source for trout.

In the stretch of river between Durango High School and the Ninth Street Bridge, CPW found four brown trout and two rainbow trout, as well as some molted sculpin, bluehead suckers and speckled dace.

“Normally, we’d catch 10 times that,” White said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife fish count Animas River August 2018: Photo credit: Joe Lewandnowski

U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell slightly in 2017 #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

From the U.S. Energy Information Administration (Laura Singer):

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2017 fell to 5.14 billion metric tons, 0.9% lower than their 2016 levels, and coal emissions were the primary driver behind the decline. U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions have declined in 7 of the past 10 years, and they are now 14% lower than in 2005.

Both coal and natural gas consumption in the United States were lower in 2017 than in 2016, and as a result, coal- and natural gas-related CO2 emissions decreased 2.6% and 1.5%, respectively. Natural gas consumption has displaced coal consumption in the electric power sector in recent years, and total U.S. emissions from natural gas first surpassed emissions from coal in 2015. U.S. petroleum consumption increased in 2017, contributing to a 0.5% increase in energy-related CO2 emissions from petroleum, but this increase was offset by the decrease in coal and natural gas emissions.

The electric power sector was the only U.S. sector in which energy-related emissions decreased in 2017, and the 4.6% decline was enough to offset increases in all other sectors. In recent years, the generation mix has shifted away from coal and toward natural gas and renewables. The shift toward natural gas from coal lowers CO2 emissions because natural gas produces fewer emissions per unit of energy consumed than coal and because natural gas generators typically use less energy than coal plants to generate each kilowatthour of electricity. Electricity generation from renewable energy technologies has increased; these technologies do not directly emit CO2 as part of their electricity generation. In EIA’s emissions data series, emissions from biomass combustion are excluded from reported energy-related emissions according to international convention.

In addition to reduced CO2 emissions as a result of utilization of less carbon-intensive generation sources, CO2 emissions were also lower in 2017 because of lower electricity sales, which in 2017 experienced the largest drop since the economic recession in 2009. The decline in CO2 emissions in the residential and commercial sectors was largely attributable to milder weather. Cooler summers reduce electricity consumption for cooling, and warmer winters reduce electricity consumption for heating (and also reduce heating-related consumption of natural gas and petroleum). Electricity sales to the industrial sector were also lower in 2017, despite an overall increase in manufacturing output.

Energy-related CO2 emissions trends are often related to trends in energy consumption and economic growth. Trends in energy consumption and related CO2 emissions relative to economic activity can be measured in several ways. Energy intensity is the amount of energy consumed relative to economic activity, measured in British thermal units per dollar of gross domestic product. Carbon intensity of energy consumed relates CO2 emissions to the amount of energy consumed in a year, measured in metric tons of CO2 per billion British thermal units.

From 2005 to 2017, the U.S. economy grew by 20%, while U.S. energy consumption fell by 2%. Energy-related CO2 emissions also decreased during that time period, and as of 2017, they were 14% lower than their 2005 levels. Compared with the levels in 2005, U.S. economic growth in 2017 was 29% less carbon-intensive, and overall U.S. energy consumption was 12% less carbon-intensive.