weather

Newscast for Monday, August 8, 2015, 5:32 PM:

High winds have caused the closure of some recreational areas on National Forest land in Douglas County.

The Devils Head Fire Tower, campground, trailhead, and picnic area were closed after a blowdown occurred in the South Platte Ranger District of Pike National Forest.

The historic fire Tower is the only original Front Range lookout tower still in use today.

The damaged area covers around six acres of aspen, spruce, and Douglas-fir trees. Crews are assessing damages and working to remove fallen trees and dangerous snags from the area.

Brian Fuchs, National Drought Mitigation Center; David Simeral, Western Regional Climate Center / U.S. Drought Monitor

Dry conditions across Colorado have largely disappeared, according to the latest U. S. Drought Monitor. 

Only a small portion of the state remains listed under the "Abnormally Dry"  classification, compared with more than a quarter last week.  Those remaining dry locations are in the northwest and southwest portions of the state.  

No portion of Colorado currently faces drought conditions.

The U. S. Drought Monitor shows about 98% of the state clear of all classifications of drought and dry conditions, compared with 59% one year ago.

Record-breaking rains leading to high water levels have prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to restrict access in some recreational areas. 

Boat ramps, shoreline access points and parking areas are limited at Lake Pueblo State Park. The department isn’t sure when they’ll reopen.

Near Lake George, the South Platte River is running usually high, resulting in the closure of Spinney Mountain State Park’s river access lot. The department is discouraging fishing along many areas of the river.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo says Colorado Springs received a record breaking 3.16 inches of rain Monday.  The old record, set more than a century ago in 1914, was 2.27 inches.  The record-breaking day comes after a record-breaking month of May, which, for the most part, removed southern Colorado from lingering drought conditions. 

It’s May in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on a mountainside 10,829 feet above sea level, snow is falling. It’s pelting Jim Cheatham, a biologist with the National Park Service. Shrugging off the cold, Cheatham seizes a teachable moment. This snow, he said, holds more than just water.

“Chances are it’s carrying the excess nitrogen we’re talking about,” mused Cheatham.

For the past eight years, the biologist has spent most of his time thinking about how nitrogen pollution is changing the park’s forests, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. He’s also been looking for a way to stop it.

  Colorado Springs officials are seeking disaster assistance after rain in early May caused an estimated $8.2 million in damages to public infrastructure, including roads, stormwater, and parks and trails. The local disaster declaration covers rainstorms and flooding from May 3 to the 12th.  Initial reports indicate an estimated $281,000 for sinkholes, 5 million for stormwater damages, including landslides and erosion, and nearly 3 million for parks and trails. 

NWS-Pueblo

UPDATE 5:08 PM:  Watches and warnings continue to evolve as the weather system continues to move eastward.  A tornado watch remains in effect for much of southern and eastern Colorado, including Pueblo and El Paso Counties until 9:00 PM.  Flood warnings remain in effect for portions of El Paso, Pueblo, Otero and Bent Counties. Winter storm warnings are in effect for northeastern El Paso County, Teller County, and north into Douglas County, among other regions.

Rains this week have stalled roadwork on Kiowa and Bijou streets in downtown Colorado Springs. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

The roads were milled and ready for paving when the recent heavy rainfalls hit, causing them to deteriorate. Colorado Springs Street Division Manager Corey Farkas says while they can’t plan for the weather, it hasn’t affected the project timeline.

Anthony Artusa / NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Up to two inches of rain have fallen in parts of southern Colorado today, providing additional relief to some dry conditions in the plains.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.
 

As of the end of April, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed portions of southern Colorado were still classified as severe drought.

Eric Petersen, a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo, says the rain is helping ease those dry conditions.

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.

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.
 

A hailstorm last month has become one of the most expensive in the state. KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar has more.

Damages to houses, roofs and vehicles from the September 29th hailstorm have caused over $200 million in estimated insured losses.

While these numbers are largely for the Denver South Metro area, damages also occurred in other parts of the state.

Carole Walker is the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. She says the recent storm can serve as a wake up call.

Heavy precipitation is causing hazardous conditions throughout much of Southern Colorado.  KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar has more.
 

The most rain is expected in El Paso County and should last until midday tomorrow.

Paul Wolyn is a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. He says Tropical Storm Simon is only partly responsible for the current precipitation.

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%.

David Miskus / NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Rainfall in Southern Colorado has been noticeably high for the past few days. But, as KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports, the rain is actually following a pattern more typical of this region.

In the past week, parts of El Paso County may have received as much as six inches of rain. Yesterday’s moisture accounted for about half that. 

The National Weather Service in Pueblo says Southern Colorado is experiencing a fairly typical monsoon season, which the region hasn’t seen in the past decade or so.

Public safety crews in Southern Colorado are gearing up for this Independence Day weekend. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, that includes being on the lookout for illegal fireworks.
 

Recent wet weather means Colorado Springs is bringing back its annual fireworks display, but hot and dry weather is in the forecast. 

Colorado Springs Deputy Fire Marshal Kris Cooper says that means fire danger is still a reality.

Eric Luebehusen / USDA

Recent thunderstorms in Southeast Colorado have helped to ease drought conditions there. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

Moderate to exceptional drought has persisted in Southeast Colorado for several years now.

Meteorologist Tom Magnuson with National Weather in Pueblo says conditions have improved after winter and spring precipitation.

UPDATE:  The Red Cross Shelter has closed as of 11:23 PM.  Highway 24 has reopened.

Original post:

The Red Cross has opened a shelter in Manitou Springs for those affected by potential flooding tonight, Friday, May 23. It's at the Historic Manitou Congregational Church, 103 Pawnee Ave.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo has issued a flash flood warning until 11:15 tonight for northwestern Pueblo County, northeastern Custer County, Teller County, and western El Paso and eastern Fremont Counties.

Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USF343-001617-ZE] / Library of Congress

John Steinbeck’s classic the Grapes of Wrath turns 75 on Monday.  The novel takes place during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and follows the Joad family as they leave Oklahoma and head to California.  Portions of Colorado were also a part of the Dust Bowl, and certainly the state is no stranger to blowing dust.

Two Incidents, Two Avalanche Related Deaths

Feb 11, 2014

Two are dead in separate avalanches in Colorado this week.  KRCC’s Elaina Formby reports.
 

One avalanche caught two snowmobilers, killing one near Kebler Pass, west of Crested Butte.  Another avalanche by the North Fork Swan River, south of Keystone Ski Resort, caught two skiers. One escaped, the other, a man in his 40s from the Front Range, was found dead at 11:30 this morning.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scientists in Colorado are working to improve runoff forecasting in the West so water managers can meet growing needs in the future. A growing population coupled with climate change means every drop will count. Scientists are mapping terrain and snow with lasers to provide a more accurate picture of the snowpack. It's called the NASA JPL Airborne Snow Observatory. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Jeff Deems, a research scientist with the University of Colorado, Boulder. He’s involved with the project.
 

Kate Dunn

People come from far and wide to hike the Manitou Incline, especially now that it’s legal.  Rain, shine, or even snow, everyone who makes the trek has his or her own motivation.  Along with her friend Mariel Dempster, KRCC’s Kate Dunn made the journey during the cold and snowy weather we recently had in the Pikes Peak region, and brought back this audio postcard.
 

The Incline daily record holder, Greg Cummings, was known for making the trek 601 times in a year.