April 16, 2008

Colorado Snowpack April Update

For Winter Year 2007-2008 (in black) on April 12 when the majority of Colorado's ski resorts closed, compared to the past three winters and the 30 year average (in red):

More proof the MSM can't get the story straight--two stories from 9NEWS reporting on recent concerns about flooding following a bountiful, near-record winter snowfall season, produced within 7 hours of each other on Monday. The first indicates the flooding concerns have abated--and the headline agrees--"Climatologist: Dry spell cuts flood threat from Colo. snow melt" (published at approximately 10 AM):
A Colorado weather expert says several weeks of dry weather have reduced the risk of flooding from Colorado's deep mountain snows.

State Climatologist Nolan Doesken said Monday the deep snow is a cause for concern but the threat has decreased.

Doesken says Colorado's snow usually melts off gradually as warm temperatures work their way up to high elevation, reducing the chance of floods.

Major flooding becomes more of a threat when snow melts quickly.

Doesken says not all of Colorado has benefited from deep snow.

Much of the Eastern Plains have been dry since last summer.

He says recent storms have reduced the threat of drought but the area still needs spring storms to keep from drying out again.
Here is the second story, not an update, but a rehash of comments from the same State Climatologist, Nolan Doesken (at around 5 PM). Note the wide difference in tone, especially the headline--"Higher than normal snowpack raising risk for flooding":
Snowpack at higher elevations is at levels researchers have not seen in a decade.

"Basin wide, the snowpack is 110 percent to 130 percent than average. There is a concern for flooding because it's been years since we've had this much of a snowpack where the snow is deep at high elevations, all the way from northern New Mexico to the Colorado/Wyoming border," said Colorado climatologist and Colorado State University researcher Nolan Doesken.

Doesken says on a scale of one to 10, the risk of flooding in river basins like the San Juan, Rio Grande and Gunnison basins is "a five or six." So far, spring temperatures have been relatively cool, said Doesken. Depending on the precipitation in the coming weeks, Doesken says the risk of flooding may be increased even further.

"There's still plenty of time, lots of different ways the snowmelt could occur, but when there's a lot of snow and when spring has been cool, that does increase the chances of flooding later on," said Doesken.

Snow at elevations 10,000 feet and above usually begins to melt in May and continues on through June. Doesken says if there are many consecutive days of warm temperatures, then flooding is more likely, but he emphasized that Colorado has historically had a "well-behaved" snowmelt.
Shortly after it became clear that Colorado's snowpack would be well above average--in record setting territory perhaps as second wettest in 113 years--the local MSM started stoking the "imminent flooding" story, no doubt trying to bring the focus back on to climate change and global warming causing all the snow to melt rapidly.

Apparently someone at 9NEWS didn't get the memo. The first story appears to have the basic theme of the climatologist right--there is still a chance that a rapid warm-up will cause some minor flooding concerns, but that risk diminishes over time as normal melting occurs. The second story buries the climatologist's estimate of "a five or six" with fearmongering headlines about the raised risk of flooding.

At least get the story straight, 9NEWS. It was the same climatologist and interview, fer Chrissakes!

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