#Drought news: Reduction in areas of Extreme Drought (D3) in N. #Colorado and Exceptional Drought (D4) in the Sangre de Cristo Range

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


This U.S. Drought Monitor week saw improvements on the map across portions of the Pacific Northwest as well as in the northern and central Rockies where scattered rain and mountain snow showers helped to boost snowpack levels and improve soil moisture content. In California and the western Great Basin, the dry pattern has continued from the summer months with no relief expected in the coming weeks in terms of precipitation. In northwestern California, the combination of long- and short-term precipitation deficits, agricultural impacts, and poor surface water flows led to further degradation of conditions. Conversely, in the desert region of southeastern California, areas of severe and extreme drought improved in response to well above-normal precipitation levels during the past 60 days in association with residual moisture from two tropical storm events that impacted the Southwest. Across the lower Midwest and Northeast, beneficial rains this week helped to reduce short-term precipitation deficits and improve soil moisture…

High Plains

On this week’s map, improvements were made in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) in eastern Montana where precipitation during the past 60-day period has been above normal and soil moisture conditions have improved considerably. Elsewhere in the region, no changes were made on the map. In the Missouri River Basin system, above-average releases are expected to continue through November, according to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. For the week, the region experienced near-to-below-normal temperatures with the largest negative anomalies (2-to-8 degrees below normal) in eastern Colorado and Wyoming…


On this week’s map, conditions degraded in areas across central and northern California, western Nevada, and southern Oregon where the warm and dry pattern has persisted. In northern-central California and southwestern Oregon, the combination of long-term precipitation deficits, agricultural impacts, poor soil moisture, well below-normal streamflow levels, and groundwater issues led to the introduction of an area of Extreme Drought (D3). Additionally, areas of Moderate Drought (D1) and Severe Drought (D2) expanded in northwestern California where streamflow is below the 10th percentile, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In the Sierra Nevada Range, the combination of short-term dryness, lack of snowfall, and warm temperatures led to the introduction of Abnormally Dry (D0). In the southeastern desert region of California, precipitation has been well above normal leading to a reduction in areas of Extreme Drought (D3) and Severe Drought (D2). In the Pacific Northwest, storms battered western Washington with rain and high-elevation snowfall with accumulations (liquid) ranging from 6-to-14 inches in the Cascades and Olympic Mountains leading to removal of areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1). Elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, rain and snow fell across the Idaho Panhandle, northwestern Montana, and northwestern Wyoming leading to a reduction in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1). In the central Rockies of Colorado, snow showers continued this week leading to a reduction in areas of Extreme Drought (D3) in northern Colorado and Exceptional Drought (D4) in the Sangre de Cristo Range. According to the NRCS SNOTEL network, snowpack levels are at or above normal across much of the state with the exception of parts of the San Juan Mountains. In eastern Utah, an area of Extreme Drought (D3) was reduced in response to above- normal precipitation (200% of normal) for the month of October…


On this week’s map, improvements were made in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) in northwestern and southern Arkansas, southeastern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, and southern Tennessee where locally heavy rainfall accumulations (2-to-5 inches) were observed. In northeastern Oklahoma, areas of Abnormally Dry (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) expanded slightly in response to short-term (30-to-90 day) precipitation deficits and reduced soil moisture levels. Elsewhere in the region, above-normal precipitation during the past 30-day period and improving soil moisture conditions led to improvements in areas of Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate Drought (D1), and Severe Drought (D2) in the Trans Pecos region of western Texas. For the week, average temperatures were above normal across southern Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and eastern Texas while northern Arkansas, Oklahoma, and western Texas were below normal…

Looking Ahead

The NWS WPC 7-Day Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) calls for light-to-moderate accumulations ranging from 1-to-2.5 inches along the Gulf Coast from Texas to the Florida Panhandle as well as in coastal areas of the Carolinas. Similar rainfall amounts are forecasted for eastern portions of New England. Out West, dry conditions are expected across the region with the exception of some lesser accumulations (<1 inch) across the northern Rockies of Idaho and Montana. The CPC 6–10-day outlook calls for a high probability of above-normal temperatures across California and western portions of Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington while the eastern two-thirds of the continental U.S. is forecasted to be below normal. In terms of precipitation, above-normal amounts are expected in the Eastern Tier and southern portions of Texas while below-normal precipitation is expected across the Midwest, Great Plains, and most of the West.

@NOAA: October was 6th wettest on record for U.S., coolest since 2013

Photo credit: Greg Hobbs

From NOAA:

The nation’s average temperature took a dip last month, making it the coolest October since 2013 for the contiguous United States. More rain than normal fell across large parts of the U.S., ending the month as the sixth-wettest October on record.

Here’s a closer look at the highlights from NOAA’s latest U.S. monthly climate report:

Climate by the numbers

October 2018
The average October temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 53.8 degrees F (0.3 degree below average), or near the middle value in the 124-year record, according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Most of the U.S. interior and areas of the Northeast had below-average temperatures, while locations on the West Coast and in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic were above average.

The average precipitation for October was 3.37 inches (1.21 inch above average), making it the sixth-wettest October on record. Many areas across the nation recorded above-average – and in some cases, record high – rainfall last month.

The year to date I January through October
The average U.S. temperature for the year to date (January through October) was 56.7 degrees (1.7 degrees above average), ranking at the 10th warmest such period on record. And it was the fifth-wettest YTD on record, with a precipitation total of 28.63 inches (3.27 inches above average).

An annotated map of the United States showing notable climate events that occurred in October 2018. (NOAA NCEI)

More statistics of note

Michael’s mark: Hurricane Michael, the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Florida panhandle, left a trail of destruction from Florida to Virginia and caused at least 45 deaths.

Improving drought: October ended with 22.0 percent of the contiguous U.S. in drought, down from 29.0 at the beginning of October.

“Baked Alaska”: The Last Frontier had its warmest October on record, with a statewide average of 34.5 degrees F (9.0 degrees above average).

#Colorado Governor-Elect [Jared Polis] Has Most Ambitious Renewables Goal in U.S. — EcoWatch #ActOnClimate #KeepItInTheGround

From EcoWatch.com (Lorraine Chow):

The Democrat, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2009, ran on a platform of transitioning Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040—the most ambitious renewable goal in the entire country, Climate Home News reported. That’s even faster than California and Hawaii, which both aim to phase out of fossil fuel generation by 2045.

On his campaign website, Polis said the green energy transition would create tens of thousands of jobs and save consumers 10 percent on energy costs. Pointing to a government study, he said that utility-scale wind is now cheaper than natural gas and that new energy storage technology would further improve these cost benefits. That’s not to mention the public health benefits of cleaner air and water…

The fossil fuel industry has a major presence in the Centennial State—the sixth largest and one of the fastest-growing U.S. oil producing states. Oil and gas companies and their supporters poured about $40 million into a campaign to help successfully defeat Proposition 112, according to the Colorado Sun.

The ballot initiative…would have banned oil and gas drilling on 85 percent of the state’s land, but was voted down 57 percent to 43 percent on Tuesday.

But with a Democrat in the governor’s seat, a Democratic-controlled legislature and the 825,000 Coloradan voters who supported 112, the fight against polluting energy companies is not over yet.

Polis had the endorsement of the Colorado Sierra Club, which praised his plans to make Colorado energy independent and his efforts to protect the state’s outdoor spaces.

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District passes $48.7M bond for storage, acquisition projects — The Greeley Tribune

Recharge pond graphic via the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Voters in the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District passed a bond issue worth $48.7 million 57.99 percent to 42.01 percent, according to preliminary election results.

Central’s boundaries stretch through parts of Weld, Adams and Morgan counties and serve about 550 farmers who operate about 1,000 irrigation wells. But thousands of people live and vote in the district.

The Yes for Water campaign helped sway those voters, and in a statement sent Tuesday night to The Tribune, officials said they were pleased with the passage of Ballot Question 7E.

“Issue 7E’s passage demonstrates our region’s commitment to supporting family farms and our agricultural economy, providing water storage and resources now and in the future, and protecting and maintaining our rural way of life,” according to the statement.

The bond issue represents a property tax increase of about $22.80 per year for a home valued at $500,000.

Those taxes will go toward paying off debt for a variety of projects, including more lined reservoir storage near Fort Lupton, Greeley and Kersey to increase the district’s holdings by 25 percent, allow the district to buy more water rights and help construct a massive artificial recharge project in Wiggins near the Weld and Morgan county line.

Portrait of low flows on the #GreenRiver and #ColoradoRiver, late Sept. 2018 — @AspenJournalism #COriver #aridification

Sunlight, over sandbars, on the Green River September 2018. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Here’s a beautiful photo essay from Brent Gardner-Smith and Aspen Journalism. Click through to view it (Be patient, the photos can take a few moments to load) and while you are there toss a few bucks into the tip jar to help fund the great water journalism coming from the Roaring Fork Valley.

#ColoradoRiver: “We’re really talking about augmenting or increasing the water supply [via cloud seeding] for 40 million people that rely on the Colorado River Basin” — Dave Kanzer #COriver #aridification @ColoradoWater

From Aspen Public Radio (Elizabeth Stewart-Severy):

The Colorado River District says adding to the snowpack is one way to address dwindling water supplies; a study in Wyoming showed that, when the conditions are right, cloud seeding can increase snowfall by 5 to 15 percent per storm. That translates to a slight increase in water supplies — a 1 to 5 percent increase in snowpack-derived water.

Dave Kanzer, an engineer with the River District, said more efficient storms with more snowfall can mean more water across the West.

“We’re not just talking about one county and one city,” Kanzer said. “We’re really talking about augmenting or increasing the water supply for 40 million people that rely on the Colorado River Basin.”

The River District has ongoing cloud seeding operations across Colorado, all along the Continental Divide, but not in Aspen and Pitkin County.

“We are proposing to fill in those areas upstream toward Independence Pass, to include all of the Ski Co properties, and all of the upper Roaring Fork Watershed,” Kanzer said.

He will present a proposal for a three-year cloud-seeding program to Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers Board at its meeting this Thursday. The River District has also been in talks with the City of Aspen and Aspen Skiing Company.

From Aspen Public Radio (Elizabeth Stewart-Severy):

Kanzer says the science is clear, but the process is not precise. A study conducted in Wyoming shows the conditions are only right in about 30 percent of storms, but when they are, cloud seeding can increase snowfall. That snowpack contributes to the water supply not just in the Roaring Fork Valley, but across the west.

“Even if we only increase the water supply by a small fraction, it can have wide ranging benefits,” Kanzer said, including more water in local rivers and more snow on the mountain.

The River District wants to see more cloud seeding activities in the Aspen area. On Thursday, the Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board will hear a proposal from Kanzer about expanding cloud seeding activities. He also has met with City of Aspen water officials and Aspen Skiing Company.

Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations for SkiCo, said the company is interested in supporting the River District, but not as a business investment. The small increase in snowfall doesn’t translate to extra powder days for skiers and riders.

“A 10-inch storm going to a 10.5-inch storm, doesn’t really do too much,” Burkley said.

While cloud seeding might not be a boon for powder skiers, Burkley said SkiCo is supportive of any measures that might help the water supply. The company has offered to participate as a site for the generators and to help with manpower to operate them.

The River District is looking for funding from Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers Board and the City of Aspen; the proposal would then need a permit from the State of Colorado.