#Snowpack news (December 5, 2021):

Colorado snowpack basin-filled map December 5, 2021 via the NRCS.
Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 5, 2021 via the NRCS.

Wolf Creek summit #snowpack 53 percent of median — The #PagosaSprings Sun #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #arifdification

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Clayton Chaney):

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Water and Climate Center’s snow pack report, the Wolf Creek summit, at 11,000 feet of elevation, had 4.2 inches of snow water equivalent as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

That amount is just 53 percent of that date’s median snow water equivalent.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins were at 33 percent of the Dec. 1 median in terms of snow pack.

River report

The Piedra River near Arboles continues to flow at record low rates.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Piedra River was flowing at a rate of 37.1 cfs as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1.

The highest recorded rate for this date was 360 cfs in 1987.

Based on 59 years of water re- cords at this site, the average flow rate for that date is 85 cfs.

According to the USGS, the San Juan River was flowing at a rate of 52.6 cfs in Pagosa Springs as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Based on 86 years of water records at this site, the lowest recorded flow rate for this date is 33 cfs, recorded in 1938.The highest recorded rate for this date was in 2008 at 761 cfs. The average flow rate for this date is 83 cfs.

Colorado Drought Monitor map November 30. 2021.

Drought report

The National Integrated Drought Information System (NI- DIS) was last updated on Nov. 23.

The NIDIS website indicates 100 percent of Archuleta County is abnormally dry.

The percentage of the county in a moderate drought is listed at 70.86, which is consistent with the previous report.

The NIDIS website also notes that 47.66 percent of the county is in a severe drought stage, consis- tent with last week’s report.

Additionally, the NIDIS website notes that 10.33 of the county remains in an extreme drought, consistent with last week’s report.

No portion of the county is in exceptional drought.

For more information and maps,
visit: https://www.drought.gov/states/Colorado/county/Archuleta.

#Silt water treatment plant feeling effects of #GlenwoodCanyon mudslides months later — The #GlenwoodSprings Post-Independent #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

An irrigation ditch south of Silt, and the Colorado River. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith

From The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent (Ray K. Erku):

Debris flows that wreaked havoc through Glenwood Canyon over the summer are causing Silt’s water treatment center to work harder to remove pollutants from the Colorado River, a town official said.

Silt Town Manager Jeff Layman said the facility isn’t in any kind of crisis, but it’s simply having to treat water with higher levels of turbidity. The cloudy water also has higher levels of manganese and iron.

“The facility’s able to treat the water that’s coming in,” he said. “But there’s an increased amount of foreign debris that came off the burn scar.”

Silt is working with state and federal resources in the hopes of obtaining funding for either updates for the current plant or purchasing a new one.

Preliminary figures for these potential updates is around $13 million, Layman said. A new plant could potentially cost between $25 million and $30 million…

Roughly 21 miles west of Glenwood Canyon, Silt pulls its water supply from the Colorado River, and it relies on a micro-filtration water treatment system built about 15 years ago. New Castle pulls its water supply from Elk Creek.

With the treatment center having to filter out more debris, the city is already having to allocate extra funds to replace equipment. The past month saw the town approve a $48,000 payment to replace filters. Each filter costs about $1,000, and the treatment center is equipped with 96 filters.

“Usually the filters would last a number of years,” Layman said. “These lasted less than a year because of this problem.”

Silt Public Works Director Trey Fonner said he’s concerned the town’s water treatment system could go through filters more quickly than in the past.

Yes, it hasn’t snowed yet in #Denver. But it’s #Colorado’s meager #snowpack that should worry you: Denver hasn’t seen snow in 225 days, but climatologists say they’re more concerned about the dry conditions in the high country — The Colorado Sun

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map December 4, 2021 via the NRCS.

From The Colorado Sun (Olivia Prenzel):

Snowflakes began falling in Denver on Dec. 1, 1913, and didn’t stop for four days, leaving the city blanketed under 45 inches of snow. Some mountain towns saw even more snowfall, with 86 inches recorded in Georgetown, 53 in Estes Park and about 44 in Boulder.

The anniversary of Denver’s biggest blizzard comes amid a much different record for the city: 225 days without snow.

But climatologists say they’re more worried about the meager snowpack levels in the mountains this season…

West Drought Monitor map November 30. 2021.

According to the latest map from the U.S. Drought Monitor, the entire state is facing drought conditions and about 40% of Colorado is facing “severe to exceptional” drought levels, further depleting low reservoir levels. Snowpack is below average, too, with the lowest levels in Colorado’s southwest mountains, according to the data released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

November tied for Denver’s 9th driest on record, with just 0.07 inch of precipitation, according to the National Weather Service office in Boulder…

Denver also finished its warmest and driest combined summer and fall on record. Between June 1 to Nov. 30, less than 2 inches of precipitation was recorded, while an average amount in that period is about 9 inches, Bianchi said.

Temperatures during the same time period averaged about 65.6 degrees — 3.5 degrees above average…

There’s no one answer to explain the lack of snow, but a La Niña weather pattern and climate change are two factors impacting the state’s parched conditions, especially in the southwest, according to Greg Hanson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder.

USA Today: Investigation reveals a stunning shift in the way rain falls in America

From USA Today (Nicole Carroll):

Specifically, our reporting finds:

  • At some point over the past three years, 27 states – all east of the Rocky Mountains – hit their highest 30-year precipitation average since record keeping began in 1895.
  • A dozen states, including Iowa, Ohio and Rhode Island, saw five of their 10 wettest years in history over the past two decades.
  • Michigan saw six of its wettest 10 years on record over the past 13 years.
  • In June, at least 136 daily rainfall records were set during storms across five states along the Mississippi River.
  • At the opposite extreme, eight states – including five in the West – had at least three record-dry years in the same time period. That’s double what would be expected based on historical patterns.
  • Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University, told our reporters the greenhouse effect is important to keep Earth from freezing, but excess heat greatly reduces the temperature difference between the warmer tropics and cooler polar regions in the summer.

    Mann said that reduction in the temperature difference slows down the jet stream, which makes it weaker and wavier in the summer. That means weather systems moving across the country can slow or stall more often.