From The Farmington Daily Times (Mike Easterling):
The drought situation in San Juan County may not be unprecedented when compared to the challenges of the last 10 years, but it’s plenty bad, county commissioners were told during their June 15 meeting in Aztec.
Commissioners heard from a variety of county employees, led by emergency manager Mike Mestas, about the severity of the situation and how much worse it could get if significant moisture doesn’t fall from the sky soon. Mestas was on hand to seek a disaster declaration from commissioners because of the drought, a measure that passed unanimously when Mestas and his associates had completed their presentation.
Mestas said the declaration will allow government organizations to seek funding from state and federal sources, if and when it becomes available, to help offset some of the issues that are expected to arise because of the drought. According to drought.gov, most of San Juan County is designated as being in exceptional drought, the worst category, while the rest of the county is either in exceptional drought or extreme drought, the second- and third-worst categories.
Mestas noted that two of San Juan County’s neighbors — Montezuma County in Colorado and McKinley County in New Mexico — also had made disaster declarations because of the drought. The state of New Mexico filed a drought declaration in December 2020, he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture already has declared a disaster declaration in 14 counties in the state, he said, with San Juan County being one of those. That designation will allow farmers, ranchers and some other residents who qualify for financial assistance to receive it, he said…
[Michelle] Truby-Tillen recalled the issues Animas Valley Water users experienced in 2016 when their system became largely inoperative and water filling stations had to be established for Crouch Mesa residents in Aztec and at McGee Park…
She explained that San Juan County is not just in a drought, it’s in what she termed a snow drought.
“We get our water from the mountains,” she said. “If there’s no rain here, yeah, it’s dry, we have problems. But as long as there’s snow in the mountains, we’re good to go. The big problem comes when there’s no snow. We’ve been in a snow drought this year comparable to several years ago when there was no snow at all on the mountains.”
In practical terms, the mountain snowpack in southwest Colorado was gone by April of this year, she said, and the ramifications of that are likely to be felt for quite some time.
From The Durango Herald (Shannon Mullane):
Town outlines increased fines for periods of extreme drought
Bayfield has adopted the town’s first official drought management plan, creating a system of conservation restrictions and fines that would take effect during drought periods.
The board of trustees unanimously approved the drought plan during a board meeting Tuesday. The plan defines drought conditions and designates the corresponding response. In the most extreme drought conditions, the response will include strict conservation measures and increased fines.
No residents commented on the plan during the meeting, but several called Mayor Ashleigh Tarkington to express concerns about the fines, she said.
“Residents are just like, ‘Are you serious about these fines?’ They’ve always been there, but we’ve never really enforced them,” Tarkington said. “We do mean business. If we get that concerned about our water situation, we will go there.”
The plan outlines three drought phases: sustainable conservation, serious drought and extreme drought based on local conditions and water use.
Under sustainable conservation, the town restricts when households can use irrigation water. The restrictions include fines of $50 for the first offense, and $100 or $500 for second and third offenses.
During serious drought, the town helps high water users decrease use, discourages water-intensive landscape changes and initiates public awareness efforts. The same fines apply.
During an extreme drought, like 2002, all outside irrigation is reduced and all daytime irrigation is prohibited. Fines jump to $100 for a first offense and $200 or $500 for second and third offenses…
During six of the last 20 years, Southwest Colorado has found itself in a serious or extreme drought, according to criteria outlined by the plan.
Seven times over the last 20 years, Bayfield’s water allotment from the Los Pinos River has been restricted or cut off to ensure entities with more senior water rights could get their full allotment.
The town has water stored in Vallecito Reservoir, but increasing its use of the standby supply would lead to increased water bills for users.
The drought plan is meant to help town officials manage drought years like this one without increasing the water bill for residents, said Katie Sickles, town manager, in a previous interview.
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
Warmer than normal temperatures continued their hold this week on the northern tier of the Lower 48, particularly in the northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest. Across the north, widespread degradation of drought conditions occurred in areas where heavy rainfall missed. A few areas that received heavy precipitation and saw localized improvements were coastal Oregon and Washington, western Montana, and eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Widespread heavy rain occurred in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, where drought conditions improved or ceased in many locations. Scattered storms over the last few weeks in the southern Great Plains and eastern New Mexico led to isolated improvements to drought conditions, and a few degradations to drought conditions in western Oklahoma where heavier storms missed. Conditions improved after beneficial rainfall in eastern Puerto Rico. Continued drying in Hawaii led to degradation in drought conditions on many of the islands…
Precipitation across the High Plains region varied significantly this week, though very warm temperatures were consistent across the region. Notably, many places in the central and northern Great Plains have had warmer daytime high temperatures than much of the southern Great Plains, leading to potentially large losses of surface moisture to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration in the northern Great Plains. A few areas in the western half of North Dakota received enough rain from several thunderstorm events to improve their drought status, though this primarily occurred in areas with very heavy rain amounts (some locales received over 5 inches). For the most part, while welcome, the heavy rains have come after months of warm and dry conditions, and the widespread severe, extreme, and exceptional drought has been slow to improve as impacts to plants and livestock continue. In north-central and northeast South Dakota, and adjacent portions of North Dakota, moderate and severe drought expanded…
Three notable widespread precipitation events occurred in the northwestern United States this week, which led to limited improvements in northeast Montana, western Montana, and coastal regions of Washington and Oregon. Recent scattered rainfall from thunderstorms in the high plains and high desert of eastern and south-central New Mexico improved drought conditions locally, though widespread moderate-to-exceptional drought maintained its grip on most of the state. Northeast Montana received locally enough rain from severe thunderstorms for limited improvement from extreme to severe drought. However, similar to North Dakota and South Dakota, agricultural impacts and warm temperatures continued, limiting the rain’s benefit on conditions in the area. A swath of precipitation covered areas from southwest Idaho to the high country of western Montana, leading to a small area of improved conditions in western Montana. Finally, a late-season atmospheric river event delivered welcome precipitation to coastal portions of Washington and Oregon, which improved short- and long-term precipitation deficits enough for localized one- and two-category improvements in drought conditions. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the West received little to no precipitation, and warmer than normal temperatures plagued much of the region. Degradations to conditions occurred in northeast California and south-central Oregon, southern Montana, central and western Wyoming, far east-central Wyoming, and the high country of west-central Colorado. All of these locations saw short- and long-term precipitation deficits continue to mount. Most of the West region remained in moderate, severe, extreme, or exceptional drought. In central California, farmers have been warned about potential water cutoffs, while wildfire concerns and firework restrictions are prevalent in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico…
Scattered heavy rain fell across the eastern half of the region this week, while rains were much spottier (though locally heavy) in Texas and Oklahoma. Moderate and severe drought conditions shifted northwest in western Oklahoma in response to changing conditions after rain this week, leaving some areas improved and others degraded. Several areas in southwest Texas saw improvement this week after rain from the last couple of weeks improved conditions there. In southwest Texas, the Trans-Pecos, and along the Rio Grande to near Laredo, abnormal dryness and all drought categories continued…
As of June 16, the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center is forecasting two areas of significant precipitation through the evening of June 21. One area of forecast rain covers much of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions, and could be highly beneficial to southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois if it occurs. Large rain amounts are also forecast from the central Gulf Coast to Georgia, northwest Florida, and western South Carolina, in association with a tropical disturbance being monitored by the NWS National Hurricane Center as of the afternoon of June 16th. For more information on this system, please monitor forecasts from the National Hurricane Center, the Weather Prediction Center, and your local National Weather Service forecast. The NWS Climate Prediction Center forecast for June 22-26 favors above normal precipitation in the western Great Lakes, lower Missouri River Valley, and the Southeast (excluding South Florida), while below normal precipitation is favored in the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West, and North Dakota. During this period, warmer than normal temperatures are favored in the western Great Plains and West, while below normal temperatures are more likely from the Great Lakes to the central and eastern Gulf Coast). In Alaska, above normal temperatures are favored in the north from June 22-26, below-normal precipitation is favored in east-central Alaska, while above normal precipitation is favored elsewhere in the state.
Here’s the US Drought Monitor one week change map ending June 15, 2021.
From The Associated Press (Anita Snow) via The Aurora Sentinel:
An unusually early and long-lasting heat wave brought more triple-digit temperatures Wednesday to a large swath of the U.S. West, raising concerns that such extreme weather could become the new normal amid a decades-long drought…
Scientists who study drought and climate change say that people living in the American West can expect to see more of the same in the coming years.
Metro Aurora is seeing consecutive days with temperatures above 100, which is abnormal.
“Overall, it has been fairly rare to have 2 consecutive days of 100 degrees or more (in Colorado). In fact, there have only been 14 occurrences since 1872,” National Weather Service officials said in a post…
A few clouds were holding the temperatures down slightly in the desert region of southwest Arizona and southeast California. But there was no real relief expected from the excessive heat warning in effect until at least Sunday…
Elsewhere in the West, triple-digit heat was forecast in Denver, which saw a record high of 101 degrees Tuesday. The weather service issued an excessive heat warning for parts of western Colorado, most of which is experiencing extreme drought conditions…
In Nevada, Las Vegas hit 116 degrees (46.6 Celsius), breaking the record of 114 degrees (45.5 Celsius) for the date set during a record hot spell on June 16, 1940…
In Montana, temperatures over 100 degrees (38 Celsius) have made it tougher to fight wildfires that have exploded in size, triggering evacuations and destroying an undetermined number of homes. Furious winds have stoked the flames and forced the crash-landing of a firefighting helicopter.
At least 14 new fires have been reported in Montana and Wyoming since Tuesday.
The dry weather was also being felt in Idaho, where authorities are preparing for what could be a challenging wildfire season.
Nick Nauslar, a meteorologist with the National Interagency Fire Center, told state officials this week that nearly 80% of Idaho is in drought and the rest will likely experience it in the coming months. He said Idaho had its second-driest spring in the last 126 years.