Thu February 12, 2015
Weather Nerding

Did Your Corner Of Colorado Break A Warm Winter Record?

Temperature departures from normal in Colorado from January 25 through February 8.
Colorado Climate Center

This winter in Colorado, we're not just getting record-breaking warm days. We're getting record-breaking weeks.

According to an analysis from the Colorado state climatologist's office, a two-week period from late January to early February has smashed through many long-term records.

Daily temperature records get broken all the time, but a longer period of record-breaking warmth is more unprecedented. Four Colorado towns with long-term weather stations – Akron, Dillon, Fort Collins, and Steamboat Springs – have experienced their warmest two-week period on record for the period from Jan. 25 through Feb. 8.

Fort Collins temperature records go back 127 years. For Denver, whose temperature records go back 144 years, the average temperatures for those two weeks are the fourth warmest on record.

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Tue February 10, 2015

Methane Leaks From Oil And Gas Skewed To 'Super-emitters'

Map from the report showing locations of gathering and processing facilities measured in the study. Numbers indicate the number of facilities sampled in the area (denoted by red outline).
American Chemical Society Publications

Two studies led by researchers at Colorado State University found that emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – vary widely, and that leaks from just a few sources dominate the overall amount of emissions.

In one study, the scientists measured methane emissions from natural gas gathering and processing facilities. They looked at 114 gathering and 16 processing facilities, and found 30 percent of the facilities were responsible for 80 percent of the leaks.

The other study analyzed emissions from compressor stations, and found a similar pattern.

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Mon February 9, 2015
Weather Nerding

Is Northern Colorado Hotter Than Normal This Winter? Signs Point To Yes

Snow levels across the West are mostly below average, although Colorado is not doing as bad as other states.
Natural Resources Conservation Service

Yes, it has been crazy warm. For 2015, Denver broke high temperature records on February 6, 7, and 8, each day above 70 degrees. Fort Collins also had a record high Saturday at 71.

While a winter warm-up is not out of the ordinary, what is unusual is just how warm it's been getting – and how frequently it's been getting warm, said Nolan Doesken, the Colorado state climatologist.

"This business of being in the 60s and even in the 70s for multiple days in a multiple week period, that starts to push the envelope a little bit."

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Mon February 9, 2015

Tackling Water Quality (And Taste) In Sterling, Colorado

The City of Sterling spent $30 million on a water treatment plant that went into operation November 2014.
Maeve Conran KGNU

Coloradoans pride themselves on the quality of their drinking water, most of which originates high up in the Rocky Mountains. On the Eastern Plains though, many communities have water that not only tastes bad, it's out of compliance with federal drinking water standards.

At the J and L Cafe in downtown Sterling you'll find diners sipping glasses of tap water as they enjoy lunch. Just a year ago, that wasn't the case.

"You couldn't hardly drink it," said diner Kathy Orchid, she never used to drink the tap water. "It's much better [now]."

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Thu February 5, 2015

Corn Farming Boosts The Global Carbon Cycle

Crops in the Midwest take in and give off so much carbon that the impact can be seen across the northern hemisphere.
Credit Courtesy USDA NRCS South Dakota

Scientists have noticed a change in the atmosphere. Plants are taking in more carbon dioxide during the growing season and giving off more carbon in the fall and winter. Recent research shows the massive corn crop in the Corn Belt may be contributing to that deeper breath.

It comes down to the Carbon Cycle. Over the winter when corn fields lay dormant, corn stalks and roots break down, sending CO2 into the air. Then in the summer when a new crop is growing, it takes up carbon from the atmosphere.

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