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Old 05-21-2012, 07:32 PM
 
8,318 posts, read 23,771,642 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCentralNEGuy View Post
The thing I don't like from the looks of Southern Colorado is in addition to having to drive further (which I guess is not that terrible), it doesn't look like there is a lot of amenities and it looks like the weather gets much hotter down there and esp. NM in the summer that I'm not sure I want to vacation there. I would prefer highs of 70 or 75 instead of 85 like it looks like in NM. Santa Fe looks nice but when its 100 degrees in Nebraska I would rather go to something a good deal cooler. Usually you find this with higher elevation but I'm sure latitude plays a big role too.
In a normal year, the higher mountains of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico can be pleasant and cool. In addition, in a normal year, the Southwest Monsoon, which normally begins in early July, brings nearly daily afternoon thunderstorms to the mountain areas of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico that are both cooling and refreshing to the mountains. Unfortunately, this is shaping up to be anything but a "normal" summer.

A far better bet for a pleasant summer experience in the mountains will most likely be found from northern Wyoming into Montana. Much of the northern Rockies had at least average and often above average winter precipitation this past winter and that area has gotten at least somewhat normal precipitation since. June is typically the wettest summer month in the northern Rockies, so a visit there in late June or early July could be pretty ideal this summer. Things start heating up and drying out in the northern Rockies in late July and August, so an earlier vacation there could be more pleasant. Unfortunately, seeing a lot of dead and dying lodgepole forests is a reality in the northern Rockies, where the lodgepole is very much a dominant mid-elevation species. But, this year at least, they may not be on fire there when you visit. In Colorado, this year is looking like one where a lot of dead lodgepole may burn.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:51 PM
 
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Jazzlover ... re visiting Wyoming this summer ...

The snowpack, while not too far off of averages in the high country, did not make it through the early and warm spring that hit this year from Colorado through to Montana.

I went through the Pinedale to Jackson area a month ago and it wasn't greening up very much due to a lack of moisture. Nor was there any remaining snowpack to be seen except on the highest mountain peaks.

Traveling through the Steamboat & Hayden area up through Baggs a week later had the same vistas. Virtually no snowpack to be seen, dry brown meadows except for irrigated areas, and much lower stream flows remaining than normal. I camped out at ElkHead Lake where the water level was already down, and then at the Hayden Colorado state park campground which hadn't opened up their bathrooms/showers yet for the season. I visited with the park ranger manager, who told me that their wastewater discharge permits were for a specified season and that normally the campground would still be under 4-6' of snow. It was dry and barren, and the little ponds adjacent to the campground that would normally still have snow melting into the pools were totally dry. Unfortunately for my stay, they could not open the bathrooms due to their permit season. But the ranger said that their end of snow pack was 4-5 weeks early this year and the diminished run-off is many weeks early.

This doesn't bode well this year for the cattlemen up throughout the region. Several I've talked to say that they'll be thinning their herds back a lot this year because they don't see much forage and they know that hay will be in short & expensive supply to get through to the next year.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:51 PM
 
Location: South Central Nebraska
350 posts, read 562,458 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idunn View Post
Unfortunately the pine beetles that are seriously moving through the east side of RMNP have already done a lot of damage in the Grand Lake area. It is still a beautiful place, and as most of the dead trees standing for now, in certain lights it can all appear quite normal and lovely. But true tree lovers might want to think twice, or you may spend a good deal of your time gazing at the mountainsides in dismay.
I was wondering last summer why there were so many dead trees on the east side of RMNP! Very sad to hear it is because of the pine beetles. One of the reasons I like Colorado is for in addition to the imposing mountains and cool mountain streams that were running very rapidly last year with all of the snow, all of the beautiful pine and aspen trees. Hopefully these trees will grow back but that takes decades I'm sure. Thank you Idunn and everyone else for all the information.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:57 PM
 
Location: South Central Nebraska
350 posts, read 562,458 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
In a normal year, the higher mountains of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico can be pleasant and cool. In addition, in a normal year, the Southwest Monsoon, which normally begins in early July, brings nearly daily afternoon thunderstorms to the mountain areas of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico that are both cooling and refreshing to the mountains. Unfortunately, this is shaping up to be anything but a "normal" summer.

A far better bet for a pleasant summer experience in the mountains will most likely be found from northern Wyoming into Montana. Much of the northern Rockies had at least average and often above average winter precipitation this past winter and that area has gotten at least somewhat normal precipitation since. June is typically the wettest summer month in the northern Rockies, so a visit there in late June or early July could be pretty ideal this summer. Things start heating up and drying out in the northern Rockies in late July and August, so an earlier vacation there could be more pleasant. Unfortunately, seeing a lot of dead and dying lodgepole forests is a reality in the northern Rockies, where the lodgepole is very much a dominant mid-elevation species. But, this year at least, they may not be on fire there when you visit. In Colorado, this year is looking like one where a lot of dead lodgepole may burn.
Yeah this is definitely not going to be a "normal" summer. If it is going to be warmer than normal in the mountains, it is going to be a furnace pretty much everywhere from the Front Range to the Mississippi. And from what sunsprit is saying I don't think its going to be great anywhere this summer. The one positive is that if the Rockies don't get a ton of rain this summer then we can avoid some of the summer thunderstorms. I hate lightning and look to avoid it if I can.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:10 PM
 
8,318 posts, read 23,771,642 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCentralNEGuy View Post
The one positive is that if the Rockies don't get a ton of rain this summer then we can avoid some of the summer thunderstorms. I hate lightning and look to avoid it if I can.
That really isn't true. Daily heating by the sun and the mountainous topography of the southern Rockies is very conducive to "firing" thunderstorms, even in a dry year. The problem is that, in a dry summer, they produce a lot of lightning, but little rain. That is a big cause of forest fires. The northern Rockies get thunderstorms, too, but not as frequently as the southern Rockies. The Northern Rockies have perennial problems with lightning-sparked forest fires, though, because the Northern Rockies typically get dry thunderstorms, even in a normal year.

By the way, the most thunderstorm-prone area in the United States, as far as total number of days with a thunderstorm, outside of Florida is along the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico.

(Unlike the OP, I love thunderstorms and lightning and have studied them and the climatology behind them as a hobby for over 40 years.)

The most lightning-free mountains in North America are the northern Sierras and Coastal Ranges in California, and the Coastal and Cascade Ranges in Washington and Oregon. If you hate lightning, but want to go to the mountains, that is where to go.

As to sunsprit's comment, yes, Wyoming is drying rapidly--especially the southern half to 2/3's of the state. Montana seems to be doing a little better, so far. Both are in better shape at this moment than are the southern Rockies, though.
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Old 05-23-2012, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
4,527 posts, read 8,256,770 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCentralNEGuy View Post
Have any of the forests in Colorado been spared?
Yeah. The Grand Mesa in western Colorado.
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Old 05-23-2012, 11:23 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
4,527 posts, read 8,256,770 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SCentralNEGuy View Post
Hopefully these trees will grow back but that takes decades I'm sure..
Would grow back quicker if forest fires were allowed to take their natural course.
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