Rainfall

Researchers say the fungus behind a disease called Valley fever may spread in the Mountain West as rain and temperature patterns change.

Colorado's History Of July Floods Isn't A Coincidence

Jul 24, 2017
Courtesy of Jason Pohl/The Coloradoan

The last week of July has seen two of the most severe floods in Colorado’s history - and that’s not a coincidence.

Both floods began at night and both had devastating consequences. On July 28, 1997, the heaviest rain ever recorded in an urban area of the state caused millions of dollars of damage to areas of Fort Collins and killed five people. What became known as the Spring Creek Flood came two days short of the anniversary of the Big Thompson Flood of 1976, when at least 12 inches of rain fell over four hours in the mountains below Estes Park. In the subsequent flooding 143 people died.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

On quiet streets, in unsuspecting Colorado neighborhoods, among the retirees and young families, illegal activity runs rampant. Operating unchecked, rogue water bandits are the culprits. What’s worse, many of the scofflaws may not even know they’re breaking the law.

The theft takes place in an unlikely location: rain barrels found among backyard flower and vegetable gardens. The problem is so widespread it sparked a big debate at the state capitol.

Update 5.13.2016: Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed legislation finally legalizing rain barrels. Our original story continues below.

NOAA

Colorado saw record warm temperatures in September, with very few late afternoon monsoon storms. The cause? It could be wildfires that burned over 1,000 miles away.

“The smoke actually reduced the temperatures. That’s the one culprit I can point at that maybe interfered with the typical El Niño response,” said Klaus Wolter, a climatologist at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Wolter’s theory is that smoke from multiple wildfires that burned over 300,000 acres in the Pacific Northwest may have made it difficult for thunderstorms to form in the state.

Michigan Technological University

Clouds aren’t always what appear to be: Two clouds that look the same on the outside might indicate a dry day or a rainstorm, all depending on where they are. Cloud scientists have begun peering into what’s happening inside at a microscopic level, and they’ve found that the particles in clouds aren’t nearly as homogenous as they thought.

Scott Spuler, a research engineer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, developed the holography technology in the study, “an instrument that could see and make a picture of roughly a thousand particles.” The three-dimensional imaging technique would allow the researchers to examine a few cubic centimeters of cloud, rather than cubic meters.

“We were never able to make measurements about clouds on these scales before,” says Spuler.

Colorado Is Now Officially Out Of Drought

Jul 16, 2015
Animation By Jim Hill, KUNC / Map Courtesy U.S. Drought Monitor

Just two small areas in Colorado register as abnormally dry on the U.S. Drought Monitor, meaning that the state is effectively drought-free.

The period from July 2013 to June 2015 is the second wettest two-year period in the U.S. Drought Monitor’s 120 years of observation for the state of Colorado -- and that helps. Yet more rain doesn’t always satiate a drought, since too much at any one time means flooding and water runoff. The better solution is snowpack -- the amount of snow that falls over the winter and refills the state’s reservoirs as it melts over the winter.

“What you want is kind of a gradual melting of the snowpack in the late spring and into the summer so that you get that gradual filling of the reservoirs,” explains David Simeral, a meteorologist and author of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Nathan Heffel / KUNC

Numerous closures of highways continue in areas of Denver and portions of Northern Colorado due to flooding, rock and mudslides. [Updated 5:55 p.m.]

The good news from the National Weather Service:

"The Western U.S. will begin to cool on Wednesday after several days of record-high temperatures. Temperatures will still be hot in many locations, but will be closer to normal for this time of year."

The not-so-good news if you're in the Southeast and have outdoor plans on Independence Day:

Grace Hood / KUNC

Heavy rains in northern Colorado are reportedly creating small mudslides on the road that runs through the Poudre Canyon.

Credit DS Pugh / Wikimedia Commons

The US Department of Agriculture has slightly lowered its forecast for the nation’s drought damaged corn crop, from 123 bushels per acre last month to 122.8 bushels.

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