#Drought News June 23, 2023: A mean frontal boundary draped across much of the lower 48 states resulted in periods of heavy rainfall across portions of the W. Great Plains and Intermountain West

Click the link to view a gallery of drought data from the US Drought Monitor website.

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

This Week’s Drought Summary

Much of the lower 48 states experienced near to below normal temperatures this week, with the exception of parts of the northern Great Plains, Upper Midwest, southern Texas, and parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley. Large portions of southern Texas experienced excessive heat this week, with daytime high temperatures averaging well above 100°F for several locations. A mean frontal boundary draped across much of the lower 48 states resulted in periods of heavy rainfall across portions of the western Great Plains and Intermountain West, leading to improvements to drought conditions across much of the western half of the lower 48 states. The only exception was in the northern Cascades in Washington, where below-normal precipitation led to worsening drought conditions. Heavy rain also fell across parts of the Southeast, with many locations across the Deep South receiving in excess of 5 inches of rainfall, leading to improvements to abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions from central Mississippi southeastward to Florida. Toward the end of the weekend, a slow-moving storm system traversing eastward across the Middle Mississippi and Ohio Valleys resulted in additional periods of heavy rainfall across portions of the eastern U.S. However, much of the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys and the Northeast experienced a mix of worsening and improving drought conditions based on antecedent dryness and where the heaviest rain fell, respectively. Another round of deterioration was warranted again this week across much of the Midwest and eastern Great Plains, where below average precipitation continued to add to precipitation deficits that go back several months…

High Plains

Much of the Northern Plains received below average rainfall this week, adding to short-term precipitation deficits. In conjunction with the below average weekly rainfall, above normal temperatures and high winds (typical for this region) only acted to exacerbate worsening drought conditions by increasing evaporation from soils and vegetation. As a result, widespread degradation of abnormal dryness (D0) and drought was warranted this week across the Dakotas. Degradation was also warranted farther southward, extending across the eastern Great Plains all the way to Kansas, despite more seasonal daytime high temperatures this week. Conversely, across western portions of the High Plains region, another round of improvements is warranted, as yet another week of above normal rainfall (with many areas receiving upwards of 2 inches of rainfall, with locally higher amounts) was observed across many areas, leading to improvements to long-term drought conditions…

Colorado Drought Monitor one week change map ending June 20, 2023.


Another week of above normal rainfall across many areas of the Intermountain West resulted in widespread, yet targeted improvements to long-term drought conditions, assisted by near and below normal average high temperatures for the week. The only area that experienced worsening drought conditions was across parts of the northern Cascades in Washington, where year-to-date precipitation deficits have continued to climb (in excess of 12 inch deficits), and this is following a predominantly below average 2022-2023 winter rainy season. Soil moisture, groundwater levels, and stream flows continue to decline…


Several rounds of heavy rainfall associated with clusters of thunderstorms traversed portions of the Southern region from Oklahoma to Mississippi, leading to targeted improvements to abnormal dryness (D0) and drought conditions. Additional improvements to the drought depiction are also warranted across portions of the Texas Panhandle, where drought indicators have continued to improve due to well above average (in some cases record) rainfall over the past 60 days. Conversely, targeted degradations are warranted across parts of the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys, where short-term dryness continues to increase. Excessive heat, especially during the latter portions of the week, helped to exacerbate dryness across portions of southern Louisiana and coastal areas of eastern Texas, where 30-day rainfall deficits continue to increase…

Looking Ahead

According to the Weather Prediction Center (WPC), over the next 6 days (June 22 – 27) above normal temperatures are forecast to dissipate and become more seasonal across the Great Lakes and Middle and Upper Mississippi Valley, and become confined to the south-central U.S. Parts of the Southern Plains could see record heat this week, as temperatures are likely to soar well above 100°F for many locations, with the potential for some locations to exceed 110°F. Much of the remainder of the lower 48 states is likely to experience seasonal to below normal temperatures. WPC predicts above normal precipitation across portions of the Central and Northern Plains and Upper Midwest, with the potential for several areas to receive in excess of 3 inches of rainfall. Above normal rainfall is also expected across much of the Eastern U.S., associated with a lingering storm system helping to usher in moisture from the western Atlantic.

During the next 6 to 10 days (June 27 – July 1), the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) favors near to below normal temperatures across much of California and the central Great Basin. Near to below normal temperatures are also predicted across much of the northern tier states from the Northern Plains to the Great Lakes, and southeastward into the Mid-Atlantic. Above normal temperatures are favored in the Pacific Northwest and New England. Above normal temperatures are strongly favored across the south-central U.S., with the potential for record heat across portions of the Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley. Near and above normal precipitation is favored across much of the lower 48 states. However, below normal precipitation is more likely across the Four Corners region, extending eastward into the Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending June 20, 2023.

2023 #COleg: #Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Appoints Colorado Produced Water Consortium Governing Body

Click the link to read the release on the Colorado Department of Natural Resources website:

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Denver – Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs announced the appointment of the Governing Body of the Colorado Produced Water Consortium. The Consortium was created by the Colorado General Assembly to help reduce the consumption of freshwater within oil and gas operations.

The Governing Body members are; John Messner, Commissioner, Colorado Energy and Carbon Management Commission (formerly Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission); Tracy Kosloff, Deputy State Engineer, Division of Water Resources; and Trisha Oeth, Director of Environmental Health and Protection, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“I am honored to appoint these dedicated public servants to lead the Colorado Produced Water Consortium, said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “John, Tracy, and Trisha bring years of experience and a wealth of expertise to this role to reduce the use of freshwater and increase the recycling of produced water in oil and gas operations.”

The Colorado Produced Water Consortium (Consortium) was established in the Department of Natural Resources by HB23-1242 to help reduce the consumption of freshwater within oil and gas operations. The Consortium’s responsibilities also include making recommendations towards developing an informed path for reuse and recycling of produced water inside and potentially outside of oil and gas operations within the state, measures to address barriers associated with the utilization of produced water and research to evaluate analytical and toxicological methods employed during produced water treatment. 

The Consortium will be made up of 31 members representing state and federal agencies, research institutions, environmental groups, industry, local governments, environmental justice groups, and disproportionately impacted communities. The Governing Body will appoint 22 members and the leadership of the Colorado General Assembly will appoint 6 members. If members of the public are interested in serving on the Consortium, please click on this link to fill out an application

The Consortium will begin meeting summer 2023.  To receive notices or find out about upcoming meetings see the Consortium’s webpage

For the period of record, 2015-2023, the 47% very short to short for the Lower 48 is a record for this time of year — @DroughtDenise

All Midwestern States, except North Dakota and Ohio, are above 50% VS/S. Note: these numbers pertain to agricultural land, not all land area. H/t Brad Rippey, USDA

Map of #Colorado precipitation going back to May 1, 2023. That’s a mighty big area with more than 10″ over this period — @Russ_Schumacher

#Denver Adds 137 Miles of New Bikeways Since 2018 — Denver North Star

Click the link to read the article on the Denver North Star website (Allen Cowgill):

At a recent small ceremony on the side of West 46th Avenue next to Rocky Mountain Lake Park, Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled a sign marking 125 new miles of bikeways for the Denver bike network.

The sign marks a major milestone for the Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), with an aggressive buildout of bikeways throughout Denver, though some residents feel the new bikeways don’t go far enough for comfort and safety.

The goal of 125 new miles of bike lanes was set in 2018 by the mayor with the goal of bringing high-comfort bike facilities within a quarter mile of where more Denverites live “to connect riders of all abilities to the places they want to go.”

At the event, Hancock said that “this is not a victory lap, we are proud of the milestone we have reached, but we’ve got to keep going.”

When asked about Denver being a growing city and the importance of providing numerous options for people traveling, the mayor said, “It’s the only option. The old single-mode transportation system in Denver no longer applies. We have grown exponentially over the last decade.”

“We have to be a more multimodal city, and we have to have the infrastructure that supports it,” Hancock continued. “The various types of bike lanes we have … are extremely important for folks to feel safe in riding bikes and using different modes around the city whether they are on scooters (or bikes), we have to continue to invest in transit. We don’t have any other option.”

DOTI actually exceeded the mayor’s goal, building out 137 miles of bikeways since 2018. Though technically the original goal was for bike lanes, it has since been expanded to include neighborhood bikeways, or bike facilities that are not actual bike lanes, but routes that share the road with drivers on low-volume streets.

Levi Wall bikes home to Lakewood up the West 23rd Avenue protected bike lane, part of the 137 new miles of bikeways since 2018. Photo by Allen Cowgill via Denver North Star

They use sharrows, traffic circles, diverters, and paint and post bulb-outs to calm traffic for people who bike, and have been a popular option for planners in north Denver. Of those new bikeway miles, 24 miles were painted bike lanes, 45 miles were buffered bike lanes (bike lanes with a painted space between the bike lane and vehicle travel lane), 23 miles were protected bike lanes, 34 miles were neighborhood bike lanes, and 11 miles were shared-use paths and trails.

“As we continue to build out our bike and multimodal network, we are creating a more sustainable alternative to driving that’s safer, enjoyable and better for our health and our environment,” DOTI Executive Director Adam Phipps said.

Layton Hill, a resident of the Highland neighborhood in North Denver, has lived in Denver for 10 years and has noticed a change in the types of people riding bikes in Denver.

“I used to see a lot more people out primarily for fitness, and now my most common bike trip is to daycare, and I’m seeing lots and lots of other families with children on their bicycles going about their day,” Hill said.

Hill said the new bike lanes aren’t perfect, but they do make it easier for him to get around. Most of the time, the streets are comfortable for him, but 10% of the time, there will be a driver that will get too close to him while he has his daughter on the back of his bike.

“They have made it better to get around,” Hill said. “I would like to see more truly prioritized lanes for people not in cars. I think having more diverters in place on just the few streets that are designated as bike lanes would be good. It would still allow neighbors to access their houses of course, and small businesses to receive deliveries. Everyone retains access to their curb, but it would just make those streets just a little bit less highly trafficked, and make them a little more comfortable for people not in cars.”

The diverters that Hill referenced are modal filters that allow bikes and pedestrians to go through an intersection, but force drivers of cars to turn, limiting the amount of vehicle traffic on the street.

Currently in North Denver there are only two diverters: West 35th Avenue and Irving Street, and West 41st Avenue and Pecos Street. The protected bike lanes that have been installed in places like West 23rd Avenue and West 17th Avenue have been impactful in generating increased bike and scooter traffic. Recent research from Ride Report, an organization that has been working with the city to collect data, shows that the West 17th Avenue protected bike lane had a nearly eightfold increase in shared bike and scooter ridership between 2019 and 2023 after the protected bike lanes and new painted bike lanes were installed.

Over 57,000 trips using shared bikes and scooters have been taken on West 17th Avenue alone since the new bike lanes were completed.

Allen Cowgill is the City Council District 1 Appointee for the Denver DOTI Advisory Board.

Water year highlight: Terrace Reservoir spills over — @AlamosaCitizen #runoff #SanLuisValley #RioGrande

Click the link to read the article on the Alamosa Citizen website (Owen Woods):

COLORADO Division 3 Engineer Craig Cotten stood above the Terrace Reservoir dam early Tuesday morning watching the water fall into the concrete spillway below. He took his phone out and snapped some pictures, smiling the whole time. He introduced himself to a few people who watched the waterfall, too. 

Cotten said that in 2019, Terrace Reservoir, located northwest of Capulin, got just below the lip of the spillway, but didn’t quite spill over. This was cool, he said. 

The greenish water of the reservoir stretched out past the bend, up to the Alamosa River. Along the north and south shores, stands of aspen trees were submerged. Some of them are almost entirely underwater. Further upriver, most of the cottonwoods along the Alamosa River were flooded, surreally resembling a Florida swamp. 

The word around the Valley is that nobody can remember when a spillover like this last occurred. Cotten admitted that it was probably sometime in the 1980s, but he wasn’t quite sure. 

When this water year began in October 2022, Terrace was sitting with a mere 3,136 acre-feet of storage. Today, June 13, 2023, Terrace is spilling over with 15,251 acre-feet of storage. Terrace has a total storage capacity of 19,195 acre-feet. 

Looking at Colorado’s Division of Water Resources tracking of Terrace’s storage since 1989, no data point since then comes even close to this week’s water levels.

Similarly, Cotten and Valley water managers have been paying attention to Platoro Dam and Reservoir on the Conejos River. It too is nearing capacity from this spring’s snowmelt but Cotten doubted it will actually spill over. Platoro has a storage capacity of 59,570 acre-feet.