Southern Colorado

Thursday Newscast, 10/8/15, 5:32 PM

21 hours ago

 Newscast for Thursday, October 8, 2015, 5:32 PM:

Wednesday Newscast, 9/16/15, 7:20 AM

Sep 16, 2015

Newscast for Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 7:20 AM:

Steve Wilson / Flickr - Creative Commons

The Colorado Department of Transportation Commission voted unanimously to approve $1 million to help preserve the Southwest Chief rail line in southern Colorado. It's part of a route that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The aging track needs major upgrades or Amtrak will have to reroute the line out of Colorado and parts of New Mexico and Kansas. The train stops in Lamar, La Junta and Trinidad, in southeastern Colorado.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s Southwest Chief commission met Friday, just days after $1.5 million in funding amendments were stripped from the House’s state budget proposal and another funding bill was put on indefinite hold. 

The commission is tasked with finding money for the route, including needed repairs to the tracks and for possibly adding a stop in Pueblo. 

David Simeral / Western Regional Climate Center

The recent pile up of snow in southern Colorado is helping to ease the state’s drought conditions.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says about 63% of the sate is dealing with abnormally dry or drought conditions compared with 72% at this time last year.

The precipitation in southern Colorado is above average, says Larry Walrod, a lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Pueblo.  Walrod also says NOAA recently released an El Niño advisory.

A bill in Colorado’s Senate that seeks funding to help preserve Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route passed out of committee today on a 5-2 vote. 

This comes on the heels of a report from the state’s Southwest Chief Commission that says the original expected $40 million share to help save the long distance route has been knocked down to 8.91 million, due in part to a federal transportation grant and negotiations with BNSF Railway, the company that owns the tracks. 

Much of Southern Colorado can expect to see some heavy snowfall this upcoming weekend. KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.

Up to around 15 inches of snow are predicted beginning late Friday night with daytime temperatures forecasted in the 20’s and 30’s.

Governor John Hickenlooper spoke in support of Fort Carson Tuesday at a listening session in Colorado Springs.  The forum comes as the Army looks to reduce its numbers of active-duty soldiers by at least 40,000.

The reductions could impact up to 16,000 personnel at Fort Carson.  The listening session was one of 30 being held across Army bases aimed at providing input to the Pentagon before any decisions are made.

Governor Hickenlooper said Colorado has a long, proud history with the military, and provides training and support that is unique.

Land near the Colorado-New Mexico border has recently been caving inwards in an area where a 5.3 magnitude earthquake took place in 2011. As KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports, scientists at the United States Geological Survey are pointing to wastewater disposal as a potential trigger.

Higher magnitude earthquakes are a rarity in Colorado, making the 2011 quake of special interest to scientists. Research showed a possible cause as wastewater injection which involves the pumping of large volumes of fluid into the Earth, creating high-pressure conditions.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Members of Colorado’s Southwest Chief Commission heard opening remarks at their meeting Thursday from the head of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.

Kate Perdoni / KRCC

It’s been over a year since the East Peak fire in Huerfano County challenged the largely rural area’s resources. It came at a time when other fires were burning throughout the state, including the devastating Black Forest fire. Huerfano County’s volunteer fire protection district was the first responding agency to the southern Colorado blaze. KRCC’s Kate Perdoni reports on the challenges of the volunteer agency in the wake of the East Peak fire.

Richard Tinker / NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Drought conditions in Colorado have seen another week of slight improvements across the state, and the worst category of drought has disappeared altogether.  One week ago, about .5% of Colorado was classified as “Exceptional Drought,” all in southeastern Colorado.  Now, that area is categorized under  “Extreme Drought.” One year ago, 3% of the state was listed as “Exceptional Drought.” 

The U. S. Drought Monitor currently shows normal conditions across 60% of Colorado.  One year ago, that number was 1.5%.

Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s commission to look at preserving Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line is gearing up to start its meetings. 

The commission’s been tasked with coordinating efforts to try and save the line, which faces possible rerouting out of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico if necessary infrastructure upgrades aren’t completed.

Jim Souby is the President of the Colorado Rail Passenger Association, and was appointed to the commission to represent the tourism industry.

Dana Cronin / KRCC

The President and CEO of Amtrak rode the Southwest Chief line in a separate train through Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico on a Whistle-stop tour to talk about the future of the route.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin was in La Junta and has this report.

The Southwest Chief runs between Los Angeles and Chicago. The future of the route is in question, as the current rail lines require upgrades in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.

100 boy scouts were evacuated early Tuesday morning from the Spanish Peaks Scout Ranch in Southern CO when heavy rains caused a nearby creek to rise. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.

As a precautionary measure, the scouts moved to a Red Cross shelter in Walsenburg. Scout Executive for the Santa Fe Trail Council Michael Stewart says this incident and last year’s East Peak Fire have given them an opportunity to teach the scouts hands-on environmental awareness.

Smoke and haze has moved into Colorado from fires in Arizona.