@ColoradoClimate Center makes state weather records official, including largest hailstone — @ColoradoStateU

The largest hailstone recorded in Colorado state history fell Aug. 13 near Bethune. Credit: Colorado Climate Center

Here’s the release from Colorado State University (Anne Manning):

The weather and climate experts at the Colorado Climate Center occasionally get the exciting task of marking a new state record. This past year was a triple threat: Climatologists have just certified the largest hailstone, highest temperature, and lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the state’s record-keeping history, which goes back to the 1870s.

Thanks to careful vetting by a “State Climate Extremes Committee” convened by Colorado State Climatologist Russ Schumacher earlier this year, the three records are in the books as of last week. The Colorado Climate Center, part of CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science, is the state’s designated climate office that collects data, monitors climate, conducts research and provides public-facing expertise to scientists, educators, the media and the general public.

Largest hailstone

According to now-official Colorado Climate Center records, the largest-ever recorded hailstone fell Aug. 13 near Bethune, Colorado. It measured 4.83 inches in diameter and weighed 8.5 ounces. The old record, though unofficial, stood at 4.5 inches in diameter.

“There’s a bit of luck that goes into capturing these records,” said Schumacher, an associate professor in atmospheric science who researches extreme weather. “Someone has to find it, and preserve it by putting it in the freezer, like this family did.” It is all but certain larger hail has fallen at other times and places but melted before anyone could collect it, he added.

The new hail record for Colorado has been certified by the National Centers for Environmental Information, which is the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s official repository for climatic data.

Back in August, the family on whose property the hailstone fell invited the State Weather Extremes Committee to their home to make measurements. Schumacher, Assistant State Climatologist Becky Bolinger, and representatives from NOAA were among those to make the trek, calipers and tape measures in tow.

The hailstone is now in a freezer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

Hottest day

The highest temperature record – 115 degrees Fahrenheit – observed at the John Martin Reservoir near Las Animas, was recorded on July 20. It beat the previous record, which had stood since 1933, by 1 degree. Making the new record stick took a little more doing, according to Schumacher.

That’s because the thermograph that made the original measurement only records up to 110 degrees, though observers reported a 115-degree day. “It was literally off the charts,” Schumacher said. So he and others at the climate center borrowed the thermograph and used an oven in CSU’s Engineering Building to recreate the temperature conditions, ensuring the device could accurately read 115 degrees.

“We’re confident the instrument was working properly,” Schumacher said.

Bomb cyclone

The lowest atmospheric pressure record, 970.4 millibars, was observed in Lamar ­­on March 13 during the famed “bomb cyclone.” It beat the previous record of 975 millibars, also recorded in Lamar, back in March 1973. The National Centers for Environmental Information don’t keep records for atmospheric pressure ­– at least not yet – so the bomb cyclone pressure drop will remain a state record only.

The latest outlooks (through January 31, 2020) are hot off the presses from the Climate Prediction Center

On October 17th, NOAA issued its December through February outlook for temperature, precipitation, and drought. Temperatures are favored to be above average across most of the western, southern, and eastern U.S., as well as in Alaska and Hawaii, with no parts favored to be colder than average.

This doesn’t mean below-average winter temperatures won’t occur. For every point on these maps, there exists the possibility that there will be a near, or above-average outcome. The maps show only the most likely category, with higher probabilities indicating greater confidence.

Wetter-than-average conditions are favored for Hawaii, Alaska, much of the Northern Plains, the Upper Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, and parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Below-average precipitation is favored over the western Gulf states and much of California.

The temperature and precipitation outlooks have parts of the country labeled “EC” for “equal chances,” which means there is no tilt in the odds toward any outcome.

A very warm and dry September rapidly increased drought across the Southeast, Southwest, and Texas. Improvement is likely during the next few months across the East and South, the Alaskan Panhandle, and in Hawaii. Drought is likely to continue or worsen in parts of Texas and most of the Southwest and to develop in parts of central California.

Even during a warmer-than-average winter, cold temperatures and snowfall are still likely to occur. Stay tuned to NOAA to be weather-ready and climate-smart.

#Drought news: No change in depiction for #CO or #WY, pockets of D2 (Severe Drought) develop in SW #KS, #AZ, #UT, D0 (Abnormally Dry) in E #NM

Click on a thumbnail graphic below to view a gallery of data from the US Drought Monitor.

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

This Week’s Drought Summary

The discussion in the Looking Ahead section is a description of what the official national guidance from the National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction is depicting for current areas of dryness and drought. The utilized NWS forecast products include the WPC 5-day QPF and 5-day Mean Temperature progs, the 6–10 Day Outlooks of Temperature and Precipitation Probability, and the 8–14 Day Outlooks of Temperature and Precipitation Probability – valid as of late Wednesday afternoon of the USDM release week. The NWS forecast Web page used for this section is http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/forecasts/.

A large upper-level low pressure system moved in the jet stream flow across the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) during this U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) week, dragging surface lows and cold fronts along with it. Cooler air followed the fronts, bringing a colder-than-normal week to most of the country west of the Appalachians. Temperatures still averaged warmer than normal across the Southeast and parts of the Northeast. Above-normal precipitation accompanied the fronts and lows across the northern Plains, the central Plains to Mid-Mississippi Valley, and parts of Texas, the Great Lakes, and Southeast. Rain was moving along a stationary front across parts of the Southeast as the USDM week ended. Any rain that falls after the 12Z (7:00 a.m. EST) cutoff for this week’s USDM will be considered for next week’s map. Most of the West, parts of the central to southern Plains, and most of the Tennessee Valley to New England was drier than normal as the USDM week ended, with many of these areas receiving no precipitation. Soils continued to dry out in the Southwest, southern Plains, Ohio Valley, and East, and crops, pasture, and rangeland was in poor to very poor condition in more than 50% of the area in states in these regions. Streamflow was very low or near record low levels across the Southeast to southern New England. Precipitation deficits for the last 4 months of more than 10 inches below normal were common across the Southeast and parts of Texas, and 4-month deficits of 6 inches or more were evident across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. The dry conditions, coupled with increased evapotranspiration caused by unusually hot temperatures of the last couple months, resulted in very low values for drought indices such as the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) and Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). The streamflow, soil moisture, vegetation conditions, SPI, and SPEI were the basis for changes on this week’s USDM map…

High Plains

In the High Plains region, the week was wetter than normal in the north and drier than normal in the south. There was no change in drought status in Colorado or Wyoming, but abnormal dryness and moderate drought expanded in Kansas with pockets of severe drought developing in southwest Kansas. Nebraska and the Dakotas continued free of drought and abnormal dryness…

West

Another week of no precipitation compounded dryness which has been developing over the last 6 months across Nevada and California, where abnormal dryness (D0) expanded. Intensifying dryness over the last 3 months prompted the expansion of D0 in the Pecos region of northeast New Mexico. Severe drought (D2) expanded in north central Arizona and adjacent south central Utah…

South

Parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana received over 2 inches of rain this week, which resulted in contraction of drought and abnormal dryness. Contraction also occurred in western Tennessee. But other areas continued dry, with expansion of drought and abnormal dryness occurring. Severe (D2) to extreme (D3) drought expanded in Texas and eastern Tennessee…

Looking Ahead

Since the Tuesday morning cutoff for this week’s USDM, several inches of rain have fallen along the frontal zone in the Southeast, a low pressure and frontal system was bringing rain to the Northeast, and another system was bringing precipitation to the Pacific Northwest. This precipitation will be incorporated into next week’s USDM. For October 17-22, Pacific frontal systems will bring 3 or more inches of rain to the western mountain ranges of Oregon and Washington with an inch or more to the northern Rockies and half an inch from the Pacific Northwest to Montana and Wyoming. A large area of an inch or more of precipitation is forecast to fall along the Mississippi River to eastern portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and into the western Great Lakes and northern Plains. Half an inch to an inch and a half of rain may fall in the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, 2 or more inches in much of the Northeast, and 1-2 inches across the Southeast, with up to half an inch across the rest of the Great Lakes. But the Southwest into the southern and central High Plains are forecast to get no precipitation. Temperatures are expected to moderate, forecast to be near to above normal across most of the CONUS. For October 22-30, odds favor above-normal precipitation across the East Coast into the Great Lakes, and for part of the period along the northern Rockies to northern Great Plains. The period will likely be drier than normal across the Southwest into the southern and central Plains, eventually extending to the Mississippi Valley later in the period. Odds favor drier-than-normal weather in western Alaska with wetter-than-normal weather in the south and east. The temperature outlook for October 22-30 is warmer-than-normal along the West Coast and East Coast, with colder-than-normal weather from the Rockies to Appalachians. The period is expected to be warmer than normal along western and southern Alaska.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending October 15. 2019.

In New Era of Climate Activism, Colorado Latinos Want to Be Heard — Westword

Here’s a report from Chase Woodruff that’s running in Westword. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

The history of environmental contamination in north Denver neighborhoods like Globeville and Elyria-Swansea stretches back more than a century, to the gilded age of smelting plants that spewed arsenic, lead and other hazardous chemicals into the air, water and soil nearby. Today these “fenceline” communities, along with neighboring areas in Commerce City, Thornton and unincorporated Adams County, lie in the shadow of major industrial facilities like the Suncor oil refinery, one of the state’s largest stationary sources of air pollution. Residents still suffer from elevated levels of asthma and other health problems.

This toxic legacy is a textbook example of environmental racism, activists say — and as a new wave of organizing around climate and environmental issues reshapes politics from Denver City Council chambers to the 2020 presidential debate stage, Latino activists are determined to be a big part of the conversation.

“I don’t think you can be talking about climate change without talking about environmental justice,” says Ean Tafoya, a Denver activist with the group Green Latinos. “I don’t think we can be talking about the solutions unless our people are included, especially because our people are being made the most sick.”

Climate change is a global problem, but it’s wrapped up in many of the same local pollution issues that north Denver has been dealing with for decades. The Suncor refinery, along with the tens of thousands of cars that travel the expanding Interstate 70 every day, are part of the fossil-fuel infrastructure driving greenhouse gas emissions around the world.

And these communities aren’t just on the front line of the industrial causes of climate change; they’re also some of the first to be dealing with its effects. Studies have shown that rising temperatures are leading to higher levels of ozone pollution, which forms in the air above cities on hot, sunny days, especially in heavily industrial areas like north Denver and Commerce City.

Chaffee County: Nestlé Waters 1041 permit renewal extended six months to allow for public comment

Location map for Nestlé operations near Nathrop via The Denver Post.

From The Ark Valley Voice (Jan Wondra):

In a decision reflecting the complicated process of renewing a Colorado 1041 Permit, the Board of Chaffee County Commissioners moved to direct staff to extend the Nestlé Water (NWNA) permit and set a hearing six months down the road, due to the need for proper public notification. The six month time frame was requested by Nestlé to prepare for the required public hearing.

The hearing to consider renewal of the permit under which Nestlé has operated since 2009 had been initially scheduled based on the county’s standard 15 day public hearing notice requirements. But the process of renewing a Colorado 1041 permit requires at least a 30 day notice of public hearing, which did not occur in this case. Nestlé is requesting a 10-year extension.

“The extension is the simplest for us and the county,”said Nestlé Western U.S. Director Larry Lawrence, who attended the Oct. 15 meeting. “ We have been in good standing for the past ten years. When we reviewed our 1041 permit we had a couple different methods we could do: modify it [the agreement], or extend for 10 years. The process as I understood it was simply, all we had to do was file a formal written request, which we did on Sept. 16. We’re happy to work on other modifications as allowed.”

[…]

In 2009, after a comprehensive two-year permitting process that included significant stakeholder input, Nestlé was given unanimous approval by the Board of Chaffee County Commissioners to operate and source water from the Ruby Mountain Springs site in Chaffee County. At that time, the county required two permits in order for NWNA to operate in Chaffee County:

  • a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) to develop a water supply in an area currently zoned as rural or commercial and,
  • a 1041 Permit to identify and mitigate any potential impacts from the proposed project.
  • The last-minute discovery that the scheduling of the Nestlé 1041 permit process was made in error, required formal action. While the BoCC initially discussed continuing the matter to its Nov. 19 regular meeting, “This does require notice to the public and public comment,” said Tom…

    A motion was made by Commissioner Keith Baker to extend the current Nestlé permit for six months, to the time of the public hearing regarding the 1041 permit, which should occur in April, 2020. Commissioner Rusty Granzella seconded and it passed unanimously.