Identify clouds with a #cloud wheel from the @RMetS, free download

From the Royal Meteorological Society: We’ve made a cloud wheel that can be cut out and used to identify clouds. Download the free pdf here: http://ow.ly/26AL30a93DV.

Cloud wheel via the Royal Meteorological Society.

Fort Collins: Community issues forum, Saturday, March 25, 2017

Old Town library, Fort Collins. Photo credit Larimer County.

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Nick Coltrain):

Fort Collins’ Democratic lawmakers will host a community issues forum Saturday to talk about Colorado water.

Planned topics include how to tackle water conservation and agricultural water use. Kirk Russell, deputy director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, will join them.

Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins, in particular has been working on water issues in the state. That includes a bill to create rules for aquifer recharging and more recently, having bills make it out of committee that aim to promote conservation by not allowing conservation efforts to diminish water rights, to slow “buy and dry” — the act of buying land solely for the water rights — and open up money for water storage and conservation projects around the state.

Rep. Joann Ginal and Sen. John Kefalas, also Fort Collins Democrats, will also be in attendance.

The free event is open to the public. It will run from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Old Town Library, 201 Peterson St.

Colorado’s top water official leaves for Denver law firm — @AspenJournalism

James Eklund, the director of the CWCB, hails from a Western Slope ranching family. He often works to add a touch of levity to otherwise serious-minded state-level water meetings.

From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith) via The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent:

James Eklund, the governor’s point person on the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, is leaving his post as director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board on March 31 to go work as an attorney helping to develop private-sector water projects.

Eklund, 41, has been at the top of the state’s water-supply planning agency since July 2013. He gave notice to the CWCB’s board of directors on March 13 and starts his new job at the Denver office of a large law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, on April 3.

“The private sector needs to make sure it is pulling its weight” when it comes to water infrastructure “and I’m going to see if I can help do that,” Eklund said.

Eklund was appointed director of the Water Conservation Board by Gov. John Hickenlooper after the governor signed an executive order in May 2013 calling for a new state water plan by December 2015.

At the time, Eklund was serving as senior deputy legal counsel in the governor’s office. By July 2013 he had replaced Jennifer Gimbel at the top of the CWCB, becoming the 10th director in the agency’s now-80-year history.

What followed was an intense two-and-a-year effort by Eklund and CWCB staff members to produce “Colorado’s Water Plan.” The resulting glossy, thick and surprisingly readable policy document came after a seemingly endless series of meetings and presentations by Eklund and CWCB staffers around the state.

And when Eklund got up in front of an audience to tell them about the water plan, he often appeared to be a Denver attorney in a three-piece suit. But he almost always began by invoking his great-grandparents, Ole and Mary, immigrants from Norway who homesteaded his family’s ranch in Plateau Valley near Collbran.

In doing so, Eklund was reaching out to Coloradoans on both sides of the Continental Divide, knowing that the Western Slope water interests often start conversations about more transmountain diversions with “Not one more drop,” while Front Range interests usually revert to “See you in water court.”

“The toughest thing has been really trying to change that,” said Eklund. “And it’s like turning a cruise ship. It takes awhile, but it’s rewarding when it happens, and as it is happening. I certainly wanted it to turn faster than it has turned, or is turning.

“People go back on their old talking points on this stuff,” Eklund added. “And in some instances, they go back to their grandparent’s and great-grandparent’s talking points. Getting a different level of conversation going, was, and probably will continue to be, the most difficult part of the whole thing.”

Eklund was also appointed by Hickenlooper to serve on the Upper Colorado River Commission, which works to administer aspects of the 1922 Colorado River Compact in conjunction with a lower basin commission. He has not resigned from that seat, and said for now he is still serving at the pleasure of the governor on the commission.

He said the issues that divide the upper and lower Colorado River basins – think Colorado versus California – “is kind of like Colorado’s transmountain diversion conundrum on steroids.”

And he said the solutions to both conundrums lie in people, not in water.

“The art of this whole business is to get the two sides to see water as a linkage between them, as a common element that they all need, ” Eklund said. “Then they can get sit around a table and discuss things, instead of pulling pistols on each other and litigating.”

Eklund’s resignation after nearly four years at CWCB was a bit of a surprise to some professionals in the Colorado water sector, as the delivery of the water plan is often seen as a successful exercise that galvanized both the state’s water wonks and water users, if not an exact prescription for which projects to build or rivers to restore.

“In my tenure, he’s probably made more presentations about what the CWCB does than about the rest of (the agency’s directors) put together,” said Eric Kuhn, who has worked at the Colorado River District for 36 years. “That’s what I think the state is going to miss with James leaving — his energy and his reaching out. The water business is a pretty insular community, and James was unwilling to accept that, and was more willing to get out and talk to everybody about what it is we do.”

Eklund was also known within the CWCB for the mock headlines he presented during his director’s reports at CWCB meetings, doing so to make a point. Sometimes the headlines, attributed to various local newspapers, got a chuckle, sometimes a groan.

On Wednesday, at his final CWCB board meeting, the last of Eklund’s headlines read: “CWCB Spokesman tweets: ‘Smart ass director, his “fake news” headlines, & reign of terror finally over.'”

The reference to a “reign of terror” may have been Eklund’s way of acknowledging he pushed the CWCB staff hard during the development of the water plan.

“It was very intense,” Eklund said of the two-year water plan process, which had firm deadlines for both the draft and final versions. “Everybody had to be all in. The engine was running at a very high level. We kept dumping in new oil, but it runs hot when you have to do something that aggressive.”

Not long after the water plan was duly delivered to the governor at the end of 2015, at least six mid-level and senior employees left the CWCB.

Asked at the time about the turnover at the agency, Eklund said that in many cases it was his staff’s good work on the highly visible water plan that led to them getting better job offers and opportunities.

“Because it has been so successful,” Eklund said of the water plan, “it has raised the brand of each of the individuals who’ve worked on it.”

That may be true of Eklund as well.

Aspen Journalism collaborates with the Post Independent, Aspen Times, Vail Daily and Summit Daily News on coverage of rivers and water in the Colorado River drainage and the state. More water http://www.aspenjournalism.org.

#Drought news: In #Colorado, unseasonable warmth (7-day average temperatures up to 18°F above normal), expansion of D2 (Severe) N. and Central

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

Summary

A late-winter cold snap over the eastern half of the nation contrasted with warmer-than-normal conditions from the Plains to the Pacific Coast, save for lingering chilly weather in the Northwest. The eastern cold spell was accompanied by mixed precipitation across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, resulting in widespread drought reductions. Much of the south experienced drier-than-normal weather, which coupled with recent dryness led to widespread expansion of drought. Drought conditions across the west remained unchanged, though renewed Pacific storminess was taking aim at the region at the end of the period…

Northern Plains

There were no changes to this area’s drought depiction, with light showers (less than 0.5 inch) offering no substantial relief to the Long-term Moderate Drought (D1)…

Central and Southern Plains

Drier- and warmer-than-normal weather persisted, maintaining or worsening the region’s drought. Across southern Nebraska and much of Kansas, 7-day average temperatures up to 7°F above normal coupled with increasingly dry conditions noted out to 60 days (locally less than 25 percent of normal, deficits of 1 to 3 inches) led to widespread expansion of Abnormal Dryness (D0). In eastern Kansas, 90-day precipitation less than 50 percent of normal (locally less than 30 percent) continued to deplete soil moisture, resulting in the expansion of Moderate Drought (D1). In Colorado, unseasonable warmth (7-day average temperatures up to 18°F above normal) and protracted dryness (6-month precipitation averaging 30 to 50 percent of normal) led to the expansion of Severe Drought (D2) in north-central portions of the state; rain will be [needed] soon everywhere east of the Rockies to prevent a rapid intensification of drought as winter wheat continues to break dormancy and soil moisture requirements increase. The same held true in Oklahoma, where weekly average temperatures up to 10°F above normal (locally higher in the Panhandle) and persistent dryness (6-month rainfall averaging 50 to 70 percent of normal) led to an increase in D2…

Texas

The short-term trend toward increasing dryness and drought continued, though some benefits from recent rain were noted in the south. In Deep South Texas and along the Gulf Coast, 2-week rainfall of 2 to 6 inches resulted in widespread reductions of Abnormal Dryness (D0). In contrast, unseasonable warmth (10-15°F above normal) and dryness (60-day rainfall 30 to 50 percent of normal) led to widespread expansion of D0 from Amarillo to Lubbock. Similarly, 60-day rainfall less than 30 percent of normal led to the introduction of Moderate Drought (D1) in north-central portions of the state. The northeastern corner of Texas has also seen some of the driest conditions over the past 60 days, with precipitation totaling less than 50 percent of normal (locally less than 20 percent); consequently, D1 was expanded to reflect the pronounced short-term dryness…

Western U.S.

Outside of New Mexico, conditions remained unchanged to region’s predominantly long-term drought. A pronounced dry signal over the past 60 days (10-35 percent of normal) led to an increase in Abnormal Dryness (D0) and Moderate Drought (D1) across eastern New Mexico. Meanwhile, the Southwest’s lingering long-term drought areas are still exhibiting deficits beyond the 2-year window, with 3-year precipitation totals averaging 60 to 75 percent of normal. More rain will be needed to fully eradicate the lingering impacts and deficits of the region’s 5-year drought, particularly in southern California…

Looking Ahead

A dry start to the period featuring lingering late-winter chill over the east will give way to increasing chances for rain and mountain snow from the Pacific Coast States into the nation’s mid-section. A cold area of high pressure will slide off the East Coast, allowing a pair of slow-moving disturbances to track from the Pacific Coast into the middle Mississippi Valley. These systems will ultimately slow in response to building high pressure over the upper Midwest, resulting in potentially heavy rain (1 to 4 inches) from the central Gulf Coast into the middle Mississippi Valley, with a secondary swath of moderate to heavy rain (locally more than an inch) from the central High Plains into the Great Lakes and Northeast. Likewise, locally heavy rain and mountain snow will return to the west, though the precipitation will largely bypass the lingering long-term drought areas in the Southwest. The NWS 6- to 10-day outlook for March 28 – April 1 calls for near- to above-normal temperatures and precipitation over most of the nation, with cooler-than-normal conditions confined to northern New England and drier-than-normal weather limited to California and southern Florida.

#ClimateChange: Earth sizzles in February

From the Associated Press (Seth Boronstein):

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculated that February 2017 averaged 55.66 degrees (13.08 degrees Celsius). That’s 1.76 degrees (.98 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average.

It was also the second hottest winter in the northern hemisphere on record. Records go back to 1880.

In the past, Earth doesn’t come near record heat if there’s no El Nino. This year it did — on every continent.

NOAA climate scientist Ahira Sanchez-Lugo called it clear evidence of climate change.

She calculated that the rate of February warming since 1980 is twice as high as since 1880.

@ColoradoClimate: Weekly Climate, Water and #Drought Assessment of the Intermountain West #ColoradoRiver #COriver

Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.