Weather – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Wed, 17 Jun 2020 14:06:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg Weather – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Air quality health advisory for wildfire smoke: southwestern Colorado http://www.pagosasun.com/air-quality-health-advisory-for-wildfire-smoke-southwestern-colorado/ Wed, 17 Jun 2020 14:06:26 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=205833 Issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Affected Area: La Plata, San Juan, Ouray, Montezuma, Hinsdale, eastern parts of Dolores and San Miguel counties, and western portions of Archuleta County.

Advisory in Effect: Through 9 a.m., Wednesday, June 17.

Public Health Recommendations: If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood you may want to remain indoors.  This is especially true for those with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young and the elderly.  Consider limiting outdoor activity when moderate to heavy smoke is present.  Consider relocating temporarily if smoke is present indoors and is making you ill.  If visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy.

Outlook:  Heavy smoke from the East Canyon and Loading Pen wildfires in Montezuma County, and the Six Shooter wildfire in La Plata County has been observed across large sections of southwestern Colorado on Tuesday.  Dry conditions and gusty winds will likely increase fire activity again Tuesday afternoon. With the winds out of a southwesterly direction, smoke will generally move towards locations northeast of the fires Tuesday afternoon and evening.  This could bring periods of moderate to heavy smoke to Ouray, Rico, Silverton, and Telluride.  By late Tuesday evening the wind will decrease and smoke will begin to drain into lower lying areas surrounding the fires.  This could produce periods of moderate to heavy smoke in locations such as Mancos, Hesperus, Durango, Hermosa, Ignacio, and  Bayfield early Wednesday morning.

For the latest Smoke Outlook, visit:
http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/addendum.aspx#smoke

For more information about smoke and your health, visit:
http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/wildfire.aspx

For the latest Colorado statewide air quality conditions, forecasts, and advisories, visit:
http://www.colorado.gov/airquality/colorado_summary.aspx

 

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Fire potential increased due to dry conditions, local officials advise caution http://www.pagosasun.com/fire-potential-increased-due-to-dry-conditions-local-officials-advise-caution/ Thu, 07 May 2020 10:55:09 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202991 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

“We’re looking at conditions definitely getting hotter and dryer and lining up for large fire potential, and so we’ve definitely been preparing for increased fire danger,” Pagosa Fire Protection District (PFPD) Deputy Chief Karn Macht said in an interview on May 6.

This year’s fire outlook is projected to be worse than last year’s, Macht explained, adding that the PFPD is expecting a 2013 or 2018 scenario given the current conditions.

However, Macht noted that this upcoming season should not be as bad as 2018 because of this year’s snowpack.

As of May 6, local basins have a total snowpack of 54 percent of median. The Upper San Juan site has a snowpack total of 36 percent and the Wolf Creek summit is at 49 percent of median, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

On that same date in 2018, local basins had a total snowpack of 15 percent of median. The Upper San Juan site did not have a snowpack total at that time and the Wolf Creek summit was at 33 percent of median.

“There’s going to be water in streams longer than there was in 2018, which is going to be a little bit more helpful,” Macht said. “But unless we get some later spring rain and the wind dies down, fire potential is always out there, but at least we have water to be able to manage that.” 

The biggest concern for the PFPD is burning being done in the afternoon when higher winds could be common, he explained.

“One of our biggest calls is fires along the side of the road from people dragging chains and causing sparks,” he said. 

Macht recommends that people get their brakes checked so they don’t have hot brake parts fall off by the road and create a fire.

Additionally, people should have the proper equipment, such as a fire extinguisher or a shovel, to take care of a smaller fire before it turns into a larger one, he added later.

“Accidents are prone to happen,” Macht said. “Practice safe practices before the restrictions have to be put into effect because people are not being diligent.”

Drought

As of April 30, Archuleta County was in “severe drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Effects of being labeled as “severe drought” are things such as farmers reducing planting, fire season being extended and river flows being reduced, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor website.

Fire restrictions 

In an interview on May 6, Archuleta County Emergency Operations Deputy Director Christina Kraetsch explained that Archuleta County is not in fire restrictions despite the Pagosa Ranger District implementing some “minor restrictions.” 

A forest order from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that was executed on April 7 prohibits two things for multiple national forests and grasslands across the country, including the San Juan National Forest.

The first prohibition prevents igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, the order indicates. This includes charcoal grills, barbecues, coal, and wood-burning stoves and sheepherder’s stoves.

The second prohibition prohibits smoking except within an enclosed vehicle, trailer or building.

Exemptions for prohibitions include persons with a forest permit that specifically exempts them from the effects of the order, and any federal, state or local officer or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty.

Specific exemptions for the first prohibition include those using pressurized liquid or gas devices with shutoff valves in an area at least 3 feet from flammable materials or residents in the areas who are using a fire in a permanent dwelling with the proper approved spark arrestors.

“We are not in a Stage 1 or 2 fire ban,” Kraetsch said. “This is just the forest service doing these restrictions. The county is in nothing right now. But when they do put in place a fire ban, we will follow suit.”

 

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Snowpack totals continue to drop, sit below 80 percent of median this week http://www.pagosasun.com/snowpack-totals-continue-to-drop-sit-below-80-percent-of-median-this-week/ Thu, 30 Apr 2020 21:00:11 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=202548 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

Local snowpack totals have seen another hit as snowpack levels have dropped 14 percent since last week, dropping below 80 percent of median.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

 

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Snowpack totals increase slightly, temperatures expected to rise http://www.pagosasun.com/snowpack-totals-increase-slightly-temperatures-expected-to-rise/ Thu, 23 Apr 2020 21:00:18 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201991 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

Local snowpack totals have increased since last week, but still remain under 100 percent of median, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

 

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Local snowpack totals under 100 percent of median http://www.pagosasun.com/local-snowpack-totals-under-100-percent-of-median/ Thu, 16 Apr 2020 21:00:30 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=201566 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
With spring in full swing and temperatures rising accordingly, snowpack totals have remained under 100 percent of median for the second straight week.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

 

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Wolf Creek summit http://www.pagosasun.com/wolf-creek-summit/ Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:53:47 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=200059

Photo courtesy George Hunyadi

Local basins are 102 percent of median this week, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Wolf Creek summit is 95 percent of median this week. Local basins could see another slight boost to snowpack totals as the National Weather Service forecasts snow through Friday night for Pagosa Springs.

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Local snowpack totals fall below 90 percent of median http://www.pagosasun.com/local-snowpack-totals-fall-below-90-percent-of-median/ Thu, 05 Mar 2020 22:47:04 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=198695 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
Local basins have seen a collective snowpack total drop below 90 percent of median this week, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Let it snow: Scientists take first cloud seeding measurements http://www.pagosasun.com/let-it-snow-scientists-take-first-cloud-seeding-measurements/ Wed, 04 Mar 2020 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=198303 By Daniel Strain
Special to The SUN
For the first time, researchers have used radar and other tools to accurately measure the volume of snow produced through cloud seeding.
The research took place in western Idaho’s Payette Basin in January 2017 and was led by Katja Friedrich, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Cloud seeding, which mixes tiny particles into the air to generate snowfall, has become an increasingly popular tool in water-strapped states like Idaho and Colorado. It’s also notoriously difficult to measure.
But that’s just what Friedrich’s team did, monitoring three attempts at cloud seeding from start to finish. Collaborators on the project included researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, University of Wyoming and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“We tracked the seeding plume from the time we put it into the cloud until it generated snow that actually fell onto the ground,” said Friedrich, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.
In all, the three cloud seeding events produced a total of about 282 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water. The group reported its findings recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Friedrich added that the research is an important first step toward better understanding just how efficient cloud seeding can be at creating those winter wonderlands.
“Everyone you talk to will say even if you can generate a little bit more snow, that helps us in the long run,” she said.
In the new study, that little bit of additional snow kicked off with an airplane. The vehicle used a series of flares to inject particles of silver iodide into a natural cloud formation that was passing overhead.
The idea behind such cloud seeding is to turn lightweight water vapor into heavy droplets.
“If everything goes according to plan, the water droplets will begin to freeze around the aerosols, forming snow,” Friedrich said.
But, she added, it’s also tricky to get a good sense of just how effective that transition really is, which is why most cloud seeding statistics lead to inconclusive results. Estimates range anywhere from zero to 50 percent additional snowfall, Friedrich said.
She and her colleagues, however, had a plan: During those January flurries, they used a radar dish to peer into the clouds as the water inside thickened and eventually succumbed to gravity.
The first attempt at cloud seeding, for example, dusted roughly 900 square miles of land in about a 10th of a millimeter of snow.
“If we hadn’t seeded these clouds, they would not have produced any precipitation,” Friedrich said.
Some in Colorado have high hopes for that process, too.
In 2019, the state entered into a partnership with six others that border the Colorado River to step up its efforts at cloud seeding — an attempt to increase the supply of water to that valuable waterway.
Friedrich added that, for now, she can’t say how useful cloud seeding might be for such efforts moving forward — every winter storm is different and interacts with aerosols in different ways. But the group’s findings could get scientists closer to being able to make those cost-benefit calculations.
“We can now finally put a number on how much water we can produce through cloud seeding,” Friedrich said.

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Snowpack sees slight decrease since last week http://www.pagosasun.com/snowpack-sees-slight-decrease-since-last-week/ Thu, 27 Feb 2020 22:00:02 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=198278 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
This week, local basins have seen a 4 percent decrease in snowpack levels, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Area snowpack levels drop slightly for second straight week http://www.pagosasun.com/area-snowpack-levels-drop-slightly-for-second-straight-week/ Thu, 20 Feb 2020 22:00:56 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=197838 By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
Since last week, local basins have seen a 6 percent decrease in their levels, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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