The February 2020 “Confluence” newsletter is hot off the presses from @CWCB_DNR

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

Colorado Water Leaders Gather for Annual Water Congress Convention

On January 29 – 31, the Colorado Water Congress hosted its annual convention in Westminster, where hundreds of attendees discussed the biggest water issues facing Colorado this year. The Colorado Water Conservation Board moderated a variety of workshops and panels – covering the ongoing Demand Management Feasibility Investigation, Instream Flow Recommendations, Stream Management Plans, Water Conservation and Efficiency, Agriculture, Climate Change, and updates on the Colorado Water Plan.

Other highlights included a forum for Colorado state legislators to share their perspectives on upcoming water policy, as well as addresses from Attorney General Phil Weiser and Governor Jared Polis.

PHOTO: Chane Polo (Colorado Water Congress), Dianna Orf (Orf & Orf), Sen. Kerry Donovan, Rep. Dylan Roberts, Rep. Donald Valdez, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, Rep. Marc Catlin

#Drought news: A beautiful snow on the way, thanks Pacific atmospheric river

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought 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

Most areas of dryness and drought received little precipitation this past week. Where there was significant precipitation, some improvement was noted, particularly in the Northwest where surplus precipitation fell during the previous 3 to 4 weeks. Moderate to heavy rains also brought improvement to southern Florida and patches of eastern North Carolina. Meanwhile, precipitation was patchy from the central Gulf Coast across eastern Texas to the Red River Valley (south), bringing a mixed bag of improvements and deterioration there. But across the dry regions in California, the Four Corners States, central and southern Texas, and northern Florida, only a few tenths of an inch of precipitation was recorded at best. Some areas of deterioration were noted in these areas, but most areas remained unchanged from last week…

High Plains

It was a dry week across most of the High Plains, with light to moderate precipitation limited to south-central Kansas and central through northern sections of Wyoming. As a result, there was some reduction in the extent of D0 and D1 in south-central Kansas, and D0 coverage was reduced a bit in northern and western Wyoming, Snowpack has improved in the state, with most sites in western areas reporting near to slightly below normal amounts for this time of year. Snow water equivalent in the reconfigured D0 areas, however, were measured in the 10th to 30th percentile at several sites, though most were a little closer to normal. In the large area of D0 to D2 from southern Wyoming through Colorado and a small part of adjacent Kansas, the dry week kept conditions unchanged…

West

Moderate to heavy precipitation fell on western parts of Washington and Oregon, and across the northern Intermountain West, particularly in Idaho and adjacent areas. But most of the West Region was dry, with only a few sites recording up to 0.25 inch across the interior valleys of Washington and Oregon, the entireties of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and all but extreme northwestern California. Despite the dry week, no dryness or drought intensification seemed warranted, and the D0 to D2 areas remained as they were the prior week. The wetter conditions farther north prompted some D0 and D1 reductions, especially where 30-day precipitation totals were substantial (12 inches plus in northwestern Oregon and western Washington; 4 to 8 inches in south-central Idaho and northwestern Montana; 5 to 10 inches with isolated higher totals across the Idaho Panhandle). Lesser amounts fell on most of western Montana, but snowpack increased enough to remove D0 from almost all of that area despite numerous locations reporting 90-day precipitation totals in the 5th to 20th percentile. This area will be monitored closely for re-development, but no substantial impacts are reported at this time..

South

Areas of abnormal dryness cover much of coastal Mississippi and Louisiana, far western Louisiana, and southwestern Arkansas. Similar conditions have been observed in part of the Red River Valley and adjacent southwestern Oklahoma, with an embedded area of moderate drought observed there. Most significantly, a large area of generally moderate to severe drought extends across much of eastern, central, and southern Texas, with a few patches of extreme (D3) drought in southwestern Texas. Patchy light to moderate precipitation brought improvement to isolated areas in Mississippi, Louisiana, eastern Texas, and the Red River Valley, but most of these regions remained unchanged. In contrast, precipitation totaled less than 0.2 inch in central and southern Texas, bringing drought intensification to several areas there, though most locales remained unchanged from last week. In eastern Texas, precipitation totaled 5 to 8 inches below normal for the past 90 days, and in much of southwestern Texas, only 10 to less than 50 percent of normal has been measured since early December 2019…

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (February 6 to 10), heavy precipitation and above-normal temperatures are expected from the central Gulf Coast northeastward through the middle Atlantic states. Amounts may reach 3 to 6 inches from the Alabama and Florida Panhandle coasts northeastward through the southern half of the Appalachians, the interior Carolinas, and the Delmarva Peninsula. Totals exceeding an inch could reach as far east as the southern Atlantic Coast, and as far west as the Ohio River and the Northeast. Farther west, moderate to heavy precipitation is expected from the higher elevations of the northern Intermountain West southeastward through the central Rockies. Generally 2 to 4 inches are expected in far northeastern Oregon through much of the Idaho Panhandle, and 1.5 to 2.5 inches are forecast for the higher peaks from western Montana through central Colorado. In addition, heavy precipitation is expected in the climatologically-wet windward areas of the Pacific Northwest. Some areas along the coast and on the west side of the Cascades should get 3 to 7 inches of precipitation. Elsehwere, only light to moderate precipitation (up to 0.75 inch) is expected in eastern Texas and adjacent locales, with only a few tenths of an inch at best in other areas of dryness and drought (particularly California, the lower elevations of the central Rockies, and the southern Rockies). Daily minimum temperatures should be above normal across much of the country, even as daily highs average near to below normal across the Rockies and Plains. Temperatures on the whole should average 6 to 9 degrees above normal in the middle Atlantic states and Southeast, but closer to normal from New England and the Appalachians westward

The CPC extended range forecast for the ensuing 5 days (February 10 to 14) shows odds favoring above-normal precipitation for most of the country save for most of Florida, the Far West from central California northward, and the Alaska Panhandle, where most areas have enhanced chances for subnormal precipitation. Meanwhile, the West and the East should experience opposite extremes of temperature, divided by a swath from western Texas, the middle Mississippi Valley, and the Great Lakes. There is high forecast confidence in this pattern. Odds for unusually warm weather reach 80 to 90 percent in the Southeast while chances for subnormal temperatures are 70 to 80 percent from roughly the Rockies westward. Colder than normal conditions are anticipated in the Alaskan Panhandle, through with less confidence than in western areas of the contiguous states.

Satellite view from NWS Sacramento.

And, here’s the one week change map ending February 4, 2020.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending February 4, 2020.

Report: The Case of the Shifting Snow — Climate Central

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

Whether you live among palm trees or pine trees, snow plays a critical role in our climate. Snow keeps our planet cooler, significantly affects water resources, and is a revealing indicator of climate change.

Forecasting snowfall and determining long-term trends of snow climatology are inherently challenging, but the research team at Climate Central has produced an analysis of snowfall trends across the United States. While no single overall national trend in snowfall can be discerned from the results, clear regional and seasonal patterns do emerge. In almost all areas of the country, snow is decreasing in the “shoulder” seasons—fall and spring. Results from 145 locations show that 116 stations (80%) had decreased snowfall before December, and 96 stations (66%) had decreased snowfall after March 1. Winter showed a mixed record, with more snow in northern climates, and decreasing snow in the southern regions. We also compared total snowfall from the 1970s to the 2010s and ranked the 20 cities with the biggest percentage gains and losses, using endpoint analysis.

The changing patterns of how much, when, and where snow falls have significant impacts on our climate, our economy, and our lives. This report provides a primer on the climatology of snow and includes resources on how to report on snow—or the lack of it—in your area.

GLOBAL WARMING AND ITS IMPACT ON SNOW

Temperature is obviously the major factor in whether precipitation falls to the ground as snow, ice, or rain. As the surface temperature of the earth continues to rise, it’s already impacting snowfall patterns and amounts. Common sense tells us that a warmer climate will have less snowfall, as warmer temperatures are likely to make the snow melt to rain before it hits the earth, or melt it quickly when it hits the ground. In the United States, winters are the fastest warming season, the longest cold snaps are becoming shorter, and the number of days with temperatures below 32°F is expected to continue to decline across the country.

Counterintuitively, global warming could actually cause colder regions to experience greater snowfall in the near to medium term. That’s because warmer air “holds” more moisture—about four percent more per degree (F)—and that additional moisture can fall as snow when temperatures are below freezing.

According to ongoing academic research, warmer surface temperatures and reduced Arctic sea ice may also be leading to changing atmospheric circulation patterns that bring cold events to the eastern United States.

Graphic credit: Climate Central

Ten additional homes to be tested for #PFAS contamination in Boulder Heights — The Boulder Daily Camera

From The Boulder Daily Camera (Kelsey Hammon):

After results late last year showed water wells in three out of 18 homes in a mountain community west of Boulder had elevated levels of polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, the county and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment plan to test the water at 10 additional properties this year.

Ron Falco, safe drinking water program manager for the state of Colorado, said the department and county are in the process of finalizing an a $8,000-contract to continue testing in the Boulder Heights subdivision. The cost will be covered by the CDPHE. Falco said officials hope more water samples will provide answers on the extent of the contamination and bring awareness to residents…

Testing is anticipated to begin mid-February. Results could be ready sometime in March. The testing follows an announcement last year that contaminated water was found in a well at the Boulder Mountain Fire Protection District’s Station 2.

Joe Malinowski, the environmental health, division manager for Boulder County Public Health, said it still is unknown what the source for contamination is…

The three homes that tested above the health advisory of 70 parts per trillion last year, showed combined levels of perfluorooctanic acid, PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfate, PFOS, at 2,057 parts per trillion, 416 parts per trillion and 200 parts per trillion…

Homeowners who live in the mountain community depend on wells as a source of water…

Many PFAS chemicals found in water have been traced to a type of fire suppressant, called Class B firefighting foam, according to the CDPHE. The foam is used to fight industrial and chemical fires. Benson emphasized in a September meeting that the station does not use this type of foam. Last year, state legislature passed House Bill 19-1279, calling on state health departments to conduct surveys every three years of fire departments to determine use and disposal of the foam.

The CDPHE, county and fire department have worked together to determine which homes should be tested, Falco said. The properties are near the fire station or slightly outside the 1,500-foot radius, according to Malinowski.

PFAS contamination in the U.S. via ewg.org