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Old 03-26-2012, 04:58 PM
 
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Maybe this thread should be re-named the "Non-winter in Colorado, 2011 to 2012." In my area of western Colorado, yesterday's high was 16 degrees above the normal high. The snow is essentially gone clear to nearly 8,500 to 9,000 feet elevation and the wind today is busily depleting what soil moisture is left on ground that has been without any significant precipitation most of the winter. A lot of old-timers are saying this may the worst drought year in more than a half century and what snowmelt there is may come a month or more early. Some of the people I know in the Forest Service and in local emergency management are already wringing their hands over fire danger that is ridiculously high for this time of year. I can say without reservation that this one of the worst dry winters I've seen in decades, and I've been around here for a lot of winters. Pray for moisture--and a lot of it--or this may be one very miserable summer ahead.

Last edited by jazzlover; 03-26-2012 at 05:07 PM..

 
Old 03-26-2012, 05:05 PM
 
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Not much snow on Pikes Peak, mostly rock showing at 14000 feet; it's usually covered with a mantel of white at this time of year.

Very windy today, fire danger off the charts.
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:36 PM
 
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Went to Denver this past weekend, coming back this morning the snow pack is concerning to say the least. Fought a good size wind (30-35 mph winds from Eagle all the way to the house.)

This is becoming worrisome to me and like Jazzlover, I've lived here all my life and I have not seen conditions like this-ever. Last Wednesday on 11 News they had a couple BLM employees on and they're predicting a fire season every bit as bad as the 2001 and 2002 season. There is a twist here though. If memory serves 2001 and 2002 the economy was a little bit better. Fast forward ten years and fiscally we are hurting. This is going to be a double whammy as gas prices in the GJ area are closing in on $4.00 a gallon.

Red flag fire danger for pretty much all of Colorado today, maybe tomorrow. I have one prediction regarding the fire situation Jazzlover is referring to here regarding the Forest Service folks. By the Memorial Day weekend, there are going to be campfire bans up and down a good portion of the western slope, and will likely go for the season. Maybe not all, but a good portion of it anyway. I'd like to think I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

Last edited by DOUBLE H; 03-27-2012 at 10:36 AM.. Reason: spelling, addition
 
Old 03-26-2012, 05:45 PM
 
Location: Vermont, grew up in Colorado and California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
Not much snow on Pikes Peak, mostly rock showing at 14000 feet; it's usually covered with a mantel of white at this time of year.

Very windy today, fire danger off the charts.
Sad to hear this......

Mountain area Sheriff and Fire Departments Live Scanner Audio Feed

"Now working 2 fires in the area- "Lower North Fork Fire" is down Foxton road east of Conifer CO 2nd fire is "Sawmill Fire" in the Indian Hills/Idledale area Grapevine Rd and Sawmill Gulch Rd.(5:38 CDT)
 
Old 03-26-2012, 05:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DOUBLE H View Post
There is a twist here though. If memory serves 2001 and 2002 the economy was a little bit better. Fast forward ten years and fiscally we are hurting. This is going to be a double whammy as gas prices in the GJ area are closing in on $4.00 a gallon.
Many local fire districts in Colorado are already in serious financial distress. Firefighting in rural and mountain areas when conditions are as they are now is a very expensive proposition if a wildire occurs. Many fire districts would probably be bankrupted by a severe fire season this summer. Would they be "bailed out" by the federal government? That's a question I hope will not require an answer. One sure bet--if there is a lot of wildfire property damage this summer, a good number of casualty insurers would likely cease writing fire coverage in Colorado. That would drive home insurance rates up for everyone and I suspect that people with homes built in the "Stupid Zones" would probably not be able to get coverage at all. That latter point would actually be one of the few positive outcomes of a bad fire season. At least the rest of us would not be paying for their folly with higher taxes and home insurance rates.
 
Old 03-26-2012, 11:00 PM
Status: "Not politically correct" (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Western Colorado
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Well Saturday every single field in the Delta area was on fire with controlled burns. Could not breath outside there was so much smoke. Today the wind storm bought Utah's dust. I measured one gust at 68mph. Everyone is oh so happy at this warm weather. Uh huh, let's see what August brings. I for one would LOVE about 3 or 4 days of soaking rain and temps in the 50's. A snow storm would make me happier than a cow in a feed lot.
 
Old 03-27-2012, 09:21 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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jim9251 wrote:
Everyone is oh so happy at this warm weather. Uh huh, let's see what August brings.
Do you think that being unhappy about the current warm weather would make things better in August?


I think it's human nature to assume that because it has been abnormally warm in March that when August rolls around that August is also going to be much warmer than usual. That may indeed happen. We'll have to wait and see about that. I'm reminded of a conversation with my brother in PA a few days after the big October snowstorm. He was telling me the that word on the street was that the winter of 2011-12 was going to be very cold and snowy. As fate would have it, the unusual October snowstorm was by far the biggset snowfall of the entire winter...thus far.

Last edited by CosmicWizard; 03-27-2012 at 09:29 AM..
 
Old 03-27-2012, 09:39 AM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
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For Denver, this has just been an odd winter. Overall, we're above average for annual snowfall. I believe February was the snowiest (or tied) ever in Denver. December was snowier than average as well. But Jan/Mar have been dry. You never know, give it a couple weeks and it could be rainy and snowy again. I've never seen an April where it didn't snow in Denver. Granted, I understand that we need the moisture in the mountains much more than down here in the city.
 
Old 03-27-2012, 09:41 AM
 
Location: CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
jim9251 wrote:. . . I'm reminded of a conversation with my brother in PA a few days after the big October snowstorm. He was telling me the that word on the street was that the winter of 2011-12 was going to be very cold and snowy. As fate would have it, the unusual October snowstorm was by far the biggset snowfall of the entire winter...thus far.
Yeah, in the Denver area this season, the two biggest snowstorms were in October and February (the February storm was the 2nd biggest on record for February), rather than in the statistically more "usual" in November and March - but overall, the snowfall this season has been statistically normal, which is unusual in itself.
 
Old 03-27-2012, 10:34 AM
 
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People on the Front Range have been "fooled" by the fact that many areas there have had an overall "normal" winter for snowfall. Unfortunately, as far as the water supplies that they depend on for survival, that means close to nothing. Colorado lives or dies on the amount of mountain snowpack that accumulates in the winter. If that is poor (and it is in most areas of Colorado this year), then the water supplies for the summer are jeopardized. The only saving grace this year is the most reservoirs are near full with a carryover from the 2010-2011 winter snowpack. At most, though, all that buys us is some water supplies for this year. If we have another dry winter--and, quite often, dry winter patterns like we are experiencing now will last for several years, then we will have exhausted that reservoir storage "cushion" by next year.

Too, some of the water in those reservoirs really does not "belong" to Colorado. A good example of that is the complex of reservoirs that make up Colorado's biggest water storage reservoirs--the Curecanti Project (now called the Wayne Aspinall Unit), comprised of Blue Mesa, Morrow Point, and Crystal Reservoirs. Most of the water stored there does not "belong" to Colorado users, but must be released to satisfy downstream users outside of Colorado. Basically, the sequence of events is this: if Lower Colorado River Basin states (California, Nevada, and Arizona) are not receiving their allowed allotment from the Colorado River Compact of 1922, then water must be released from Lake Powell to satisfy the allotment. In turn, Blue Mesa Reservoir, the main water storage reservoir of the Aspinall Unit, must release water to attempt to re-fill Lake Powell. Also, in fact, a major purpose of the Aspinall Unit reservoirs were as "cash register dams" for the Colorado River Storage Project. Their purpose was to generate electrical power for the Bureau of Reclamation to sell to help offset some of the costs of the Project.

Colorado also has interstate water compacts, with Nebraska and Kansas on the Arkansas, Platte, and Republican River drainages, and New Mexico and Texas on the Rio Grande drainage. If Colorado can not satisfy the water requirement of those compacts with those downstream states, then Colorado water users in those river basins may see their water supplies curtailed or cut off entirely until the compact requirements are satisfied.

Thanks to out-of-control population growth, Colorado no longer has the luxury of excess water supplies to support municipal use, agriculture, industry, streamflows and wetland protection--even in a normal year. Essentially, every river basin in Colorado is overappropritated--that is, there are more water rights granted to water users than there are water supplies--even in a normal year. In a drought situation, something will have go without water. This state really needs to have a discussion about who gets to go without when that happens--and this may be the year that we hit the wall.
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