Denver Water operations shift to protect workers and the community during virus crisis. The post Keeping the water flowing through COVID-19 appeared first on News on TAP.
From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):
Dangerous rapid prompts improvement project
Tweaks have been made to the Whitewater Park, which flows along Santa Rita Park, as early as the 1980s. But a full-scale $2.6 million project to enhance the park and build a series of rapids began in 2014 and was finished in 2018.
In summer 2016, the city’s Utilities Department spent $1 million on a separate project just upstream of the Whitewater Park to build several new features to divert more water into the city’s water intake for municipal use.
It’s these features some people in the boating community say pose too great a risk for running the Animas River at high water…
In early March, the city started an estimated $113,000 project to make the rapid safer, work that was recently completed, [Jarrod] Biggs said.
The city has said a permanent solution, which would grout the bottom of the river to hold the boulders in place, has been rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Parks, citing concerns to wildlife.
As a result, it’s likely the city will have to get in the river every few years to tweak the features so they remain safe.
From The High Country News [March 24, 2020] (Craig Childs):
People have been trying to get outdoors during this COVID-19 pandemic, and I don’t blame them. Without fresh air to breathe, clear sunlight or mist on our eyelids, I don’t think we can remain sane. And we need a sane population. Especially now.
All over the country, beaches and parks are closed, warning tape is wrapped around playgrounds. People are trying to get out, but not finding any place to go to. Central Park remains open, and New York City has been asked by its mayor to close certain streets to vehicles so people can get out and walk. In the San Francisco Bay area, where shelter-in-place orders are in effect, residents are still being told that parks are open and to go enjoy them — with certain caveats: The restrooms aren’t open, and neither are the trashcans, and don’t hike in groups.
In the West, we’ve got plenty of space. But are we supposed to be using it? We’re hearing different messages. There’s been a pushback against recreating on public lands, mostly from gateway communities receiving visitors they don’t want, even as people are being encouraged to enjoy parks and open spaces where they can keep a safe distance from others. Most national parks remain open, and entry fees have been waived.
So which is it? Stay indoors, or go outside? If you go out for a walk, you might hear someone shouting at you from a window, “What don’t you understand about just stay home?”
Moab was overwhelmed by tourists — a madhouse, I’m told, which is significant when you hear it from a Moab local. Last week, it became too much, and all tourist services were closed down. Mayor Emily Niehaus announced, “Moab is asking people to please stay in their home community.” The Southeast Utah Health Department halted visitor recreation, restaurants were closed or limited to curbside, camping and hotels across multiple counties were closed to non-locals, and visitors centers have shut down. Everybody, go home. Is home restricted to the indoors, or does it include the spaces around you?
I believe in the right to be outside, but at this moment it shouldn’t be exercised through visitor centers and bottlenecks. Forget the parks; seek out the spaces in between, the backyards and alleys. It’s a great time to explore an irrigation ditch or the woods at the edge of town — to see what’s around you. Be as local as you can. If you’re heading to Red Mountain Pass to ski between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado, and you have out-of-county plates, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office will place a yellow slip on your windshield reading, “San Juan County Colorado is enacting a LOCALS ONLY order until further notice due to the COVID-19 Virus crisis.” Further down the slip, it notes, “Failure to comply with this order will result in charges with the potential of 1 year in prison, and a $1,000 fine.”
In southwest Colorado, as in much of the West, we’re fortunate to live in a nest of public lands with few trails or kiosks, mostly dirt roads with random pullouts — the spaces managed by the Bureau of Land Management. When I hear “shelter in place,” I think of this place. How far does that legally, ethically extend?
A couple of days ago, my gal and I met up with two friends, another couple sheltering at home, and drove separately to a rock scarp near where we live. We kept 6 feet or more between us at all times, handing nothing back and forth without an antibacterial wipe. The air we breathed was cavernous, a sandstone canyon without a trail or a sign, a place where you’d rarely see footprints. For half a day, we scrambled over boulders and took pictures of rock and sky. I took more caution than I normally would, limiting the risk, because you don’t want to take any resources from rescue workers who already have tough jobs to do. On our hike, we recounted the weeks since we’d seen each other last, catching up on the stories under the vault of the sky. This, I believe, is sanity. As far as I’ve heard, what we did is neither illegal or unhealthy. Perhaps it’s not unethical, either.
I realize not everybody can do this; the out-of-doors comes in degrees. Sometimes just standing on a sidewalk and staring into the sky makes a world of difference.
Currently, federal land agencies, including the National Park Service, defer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for social-distancing guidelines. But for those wondering about going out farther than their own back-forty, Colorado Parks and Wildlife put out simple guidelines reflecting outdoor recommendations from groups and agencies around the West.
In a nutshell:
If you are sick, stay home. Keep a social distance from others. Avoid high-risk or remote activities. Announce your presence to others. Stay regional. Avoid times and places of high use. Practice good hand hygiene. Be kind. Say hi.
A key bullet point is “stay regional.” How big is a region? Where do you usually travel for groceries? In some of these big Western counties, a hundred miles or more can be your region. In Denver, I figure this means your city and the land immediately around it; Front Range residents are advised to avoid traveling to the high country or to small mountain communities closed to visitors. In the Pacific Northwest, permits are still being given for the Pacific Crest Trail. Online battles are raging between those leaving the trail — who are being called “quitters” — and those staying on it, who are being accused of selfishly making coronavirus and its host of difficulties worse.
In other words, there’s no official definition. One good answer came from a friend in Trinidad, Colorado: “If someone gets to a spot and there are a bunch of people there, you should immediately go somewhere else.”
I was probably one of the last groups to leave the southeast Utah backcountry late last week. I came out with participants in a wilderness archaeology program. We traveled through the town of Bluff to see what was happening, and we found a pandemic in progress: People were telling us to go home, to stay put in Utah, to go back to the wilderness where we’d been living happily for the last five days. Airplanes were still flying, so civilization was still intact. But answers were hard to find. We all headed back home, which sent us in every direction but kept us out of the hair of the locals, which seems to be the major issue. Small gateway communities do not need the strain on their groceries, gas or medical services.
If you’re looking for justification to take a trip to the backcountry, leaving your area to go through someone else’s, this isn’t it. Stay in your home terrain. If where you live has backcountry wrapped around it, or a trail that’s open and uncrowded, or just some woods to walk through, I consider that an extension of home. It may not be true for most of us, but many live out here on the margins. And all of us, I hope, can reach the outdoors in some form, because sanity is also necessary for health.
Craig Childs writes about adventure, wilderness, and science. Craig’s newest book, Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America, explores the arrivals of humans into a new hemisphere during the late Pleistocene. Craig teaches writing at the University of Alaska and in the Mountainview MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University and lives off the grid in western Colorado. Email High Country News at email@example.com.
The response to COVID-19 has changed many things, but the water delivered by the nation’s water utilities is safe to drink.
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Doug MacEachern or Shauna Evans March 20, 2020 PHONE: 602.771. 8507 or 602.771.8507 ADWR creates new, informational “Continuing Operations” web page PHOENIX – Like virtually all other […]
From USA Today (Doyle Rice):
The months of December, January and February – which meteorologists define as winter here in the Northern Hemisphere – were the second-warmest on record, federal scientists announced Friday.
Only the El Niño-fueled winter of 2015-16 was warmer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. El Niño, a natural warming of sea water in the tropical Pacific Ocean, acts to boost global temperatures.
Global temperature records for the Earth go back to 1880.
Some of the most extreme warmth was in Russia, which smashed its record for warmest winter. Temperatures there were as much as a whopping 12 degrees above average, according to the country’s weather service.
All the weird warmth messed with the region’s flora and fauna, as Gizmodo noted. Flowers started to bloom early in the winter, and some bears even awoke from hibernation at the Bolsherechensky Zoo, the Washington Post said.
In Europe, France had its warmest winter on record, while both Austria and the Netherlands had their second-warmest winter. Austria has a long history of keeping weather data: temperature records there go back to 1767, when Mozart was 11 years old.
Alaska’s coldest February and winter in 21 years; Sixth warmest winter on record for contiguous U.S.
During February, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 36.2°F, 2.4°F above the 20th century average. This ranked among the warmest one-third of the 126-year period of record. Despite being on record pace for warmest winter on record in January, the winter (December–February) average contiguous U.S. temperature was 36.0°F, 3.8°F above average, ranking sixth warmest winter on record.
The February precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.40 inches, 0.27 inch above average and ranked among the wettest one-third of the historical period of record. The winter precipitation total was 7.71 inches, 0.92 inch above average, and ranked among the wettest one-third of the 125-year period of record. For the 12-month period March 2019–February 2020, the precipitation total was 34.12 inches, 4.16 inches above average and the sixth wettest March–February period on record.
This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.
Much-above-average temperatures were observed across parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as well as portions of California and Florida. New Jersey and Rhode Island ranked third warmest, while Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut ranked fifth warmest.
- Below-average temperatures were observed across portions of the central Rockies to western Texas during February. No state ranked below average for the month.
- The Alaska February temperature was 1.5°F, 3.3°F below the long-term average. This ranked among the coldest one-third of the 96-year period of record for the state and was the coldest February since 1999.
- The North Slope had its coldest February in 31 years.
- It was the coldest February since 1984 in Utqiaġvik (Barrow).
- Utqiaġvik had seven days in February with low temperatures as cold or colder than −40°F — the most in any February since 1984 and in any calendar month since January 1989.
- Cold temperatures across the region were a catalyst for rapid ice growth across the Bering Sea in February, where sea ice extent expanded to 100% of average for the month. This was the first February since 2013 where the Bering Sea ice extent was not below average.
- Much-above-average to record wet conditions were present across much of the Southeast during February, as flooding rainfall on multiple days caused landslides and severe damage to roads and other infrastructure. In Jackson, Mississippi, the Pearl River crested at its highest level since 1983, inundating many homes. Several other rivers across Alabama and Mississippi were near-to or above flood stage. Georgia ranked second wettest, while Alabama and North Carolina ranked third wettest for the month.
- After a dry January across southwestern California, February brought little to no relief, with many locations reporting less than 5% of average rainfall. California ranked driest on record for February with 0.20 inch of precipitation, besting the previous record of 0.31 inch set back in 1964.
- Stations across the San Francisco Bay area and interior parts of northern California tied or set records for driest February on record. San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Oakland and many other stations received no precipitation during the month, setting local records for the driest February.
- Air temperatures during the winter were warm enough across the Great Lakes to keep surface water temperatures above freezing across a large portion of the basin. As a result, enhanced lake-effect snow events occur much later in the season than on average, which lead to higher seasonal snowfall totals. This was indeed the case during February 27–29, as heavy lake effect snowfall impacted portions of the Tug Hill Plateau region of upstate New York. Cold and blustery winds blew across the length of Lake Ontario, over the relatively warm waters, lifting moisture and dumping several feet of snow along the downwind communities. Carthage, New York, received 48 inches of snowfall from this event while Croghan and Redfield observed 42.5 inches and 31.2 inches, respectively. Other communities south of Buffalo received between one and two feet of snow from this event and lesser amounts across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan According to the March 3 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 11.5% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up slightly from 11% at the end of January. With the extremely dry conditions during January and February across California, moderate drought blossomed across 34% of the state over the last three weeks and expanded across Oregon and into Nevada. In Texas, the drought footprint contracted, yet intensified as extreme drought expanded across parts of south Texas. Drought conditions improved across Hawaii. as well as the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
- The Arctic Oscillation (AO) was strongly positive for most of the winter, particularly in January and February. Twice in February, it set all-time records for its highest values.
- The positive phase of the AO is associated with enhanced troughing of the upper-air jet stream in the Arctic and enhanced ridging of the jet stream in the midlatitudes. This strengthens the jet stream and traps the colder temperatures in the Arctic, leaving warmer conditions to the south, including across the contiguous U.S.
- During January, February and the latter half of December, the jet stream was stronger than normal and upper-air troughs were strongest near Alaska, Greenland and central Russia, leading to persistently cold anomalies in those regions. The ridges were strongest over Europe, East Asia and the northeastern Pacific, allowing warmer anomalies to persist.
- As a result of this positive AO, winter temperatures were above average across most of the contiguous U.S. and much-above-average across the eastern U.S. West Virginia and Rhode Island each had their fourth warmest December–February on record. Twenty-two additional states had a top 10 warmest winter.
- The Alaska December–February temperature was 0.7°F, 2.9°F below the long-term average, ranking among the coldest one-third of the 95-year record and the coldest winter in 21 years. Much-below-average temperatures were concentrated in parts of the Central Interior region with below-average temperatures across much of mainland Alaska. Above-average temperatures were present across portions of the Panhandle.
- For the first time in 21 years, Fairbanks remained below freezing during all of climatological winter (December–February).
- Much-above-average to record precipitation was observed from the Southeast into the Great Lakes. Alabama and Georgia ranked wettest on record for winter precipitation, while South Carolina ranked second wettest. Parts of the West and northern Rockies received below-average precipitation for the season.
- Much of the Rockies, northern Plains, western Great Lakes and northern New England received average to above-average snowfall during winter. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, the southern Great Lakes and from the Ohio Valley to the Mid-Atlantic region and into the Northeast saw below-average to near-record low snowfall totals for the season. This was due in part to the northward deviation of the polar jet stream, which brought colder air to the West and warmer air across much of the eastern U.S. As a result, very few cold winter storms traversed the south-central portions of the Lower 48 and up the East Coast during the winter season.
- Climatologically speaking, winter is the wet season in California and across much of the West. If March and April do not produce adequate precipitation to make up for the dry conditions experienced during winter, there will be increased concerns regarding sufficient water resources to get through the dry season (summer) and also for the increased potential for wildfires this coming fall.
- While much of interior and northern Alaska was drier than average during the winter, portions of the Alaskan Panhandle were wetter than average. Petersburg, Alaska, received 40 inches of precipitation — the wettest winter since 2006–2007.
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