Drought in the Intermountain West

Dan StaleySeptember 30, 2010

As if you didn't know already by your plants or by your water bill, the US Drought Monitor has finally caught up and recognized the widespread dryness this summer. Those of us on the Front Range are now officially in a 'Moderate' drought situation:

No indication from the official folks about medium-term from La Ni�a.


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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

I did okay this season on my water consumption. I've put a fair amount of work into altering the sprinkler system. Also I used alot of mulch in my beds. The wood chips, from the city yard, really seem to hold moisture in the soil. Also using a hand held moisture meter and the old watering can helped to keep the moisture levels somewhat constant.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 1:28PM
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See and here I figured out we were dry when the tumble weeds growing on the septic tank turned brown!


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 1:35PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

ROFL! I like YOUR system, Billie! Who needs all this "scientific" stuff anyway? Great to see you back around here, and hope you'll have time to hang out now and then!

I'm surprised, since I was here every day this summer to water, water, water, that I never went up into the third (substantially more expensive than the first two) tier of water rates! I watered the perennials and the veggies a LOT---not that it helped, either, at all! I guess it was the heat, but this was a really poor year for veggies for me, and a mediocre--at best--year for the perennials.

The grass gets watered DEEPLY every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks, and if it doesn't want to die, it needs to keep looking for the moisture that's below it! It works! It doesn't look like the neighbor's, who waters almost every day (a little bit), but it's hangin' in there!

I wonder if we're gonna get DUMPED ON this winter! Dan, what's your best guess---I mean, what's your Expert Opinion on that?


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 2:15PM
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I am retired wheat farmer
I Still have friends in the business. They have not planted this fall because is is too dry. That means no winter wheat crop next year.
Explanation for the non farmer:
Winter wheat is planted in September. Can be planted later this fall if we get rain, but at a reduced yield.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 3:15PM
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Yeah, I couldn't keep up with the watering in my containers. First a late cold spring, then a blazing dry summer....Very few of anything for me!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 9:02PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

colokid said "They have not planted this fall because is too dry. That means no winter wheat crop next year."

What happens to the soil if there's no winter wheat?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 9:59PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Speaking of drought really ties into the book I've been reading during the last week which is Collapse by Jared Diamond. I've also read his book Guns Germs and Steel.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:07PM
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david52 Zone 6

Record high heat out here, 87 today, 14% humidity, and I'm irrigating the grass on the west side of the place so it doesn't die.

Usually by now its cooled off so that the soil moisture isn't evaporating so quickly. Irrigation goes off Oct 15th.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:39PM
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Dan Staley

What happens to the soil if there's no winter wheat?

Usu one leaves stubble.

And what Billie said.

Our water is way up as I planted many more melons for the second-grader (she wanted another one today...) and the cukes went nuts a few weeks ago, and landscaping meant establishment/construction water. I tried to shower less often to make up for it, but the BH put the kibosh on that right quick ;o)


    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:43PM
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What happens to the soil if there's no winter wheat?
Depend on the soil. If sandy and no stubble or mulch it will blow badly. Modern farming tries to "stubble mulch" to leave a residue on the top.
I am so convinced to mulch every thing in a garden that I yell it to everyone who will listen. I did not this year and payed the price when my tomatoes burned up. I think soil temperature as well as moisture.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 11:12PM
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In anticipation of September rains, I turned off the water to my irrigation system after I watered 8/15. We got .3 inches of rain in September so almost half my lawn is turning brown. But I'm sticking with my 3x a year watering schedule.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 1:43AM
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Dan Staley

Public release date: 1-Oct-2010

Contact: Meg Sullivan
University of California -- Los Angeles

Ocean conditions likely to reduce Colorado River flows during this winter's drought The convergence in the coming year of three cyclical conditions affecting ocean temperatures and weather is likely to create unprecedented challenges for states that depend on water from the Colorado River, a new UCLA study suggests.

"If I were concocting a recipe for a perfect drought, this would be it," said Glen MacDonald, co-author of the study and director of UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Along with a former graduate student, MacDonald has found that the combination of La Ni�a with two less commonly known ocean conditions � the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation � tends to result in drought in the upper reaches of the Colorado River. The ocean conditions have been known to diminish precipitation in the Southwest but, examined separately, have proven to be poor indicators of drought conditions in the upper reaches of the river.

"It's the combination that's key," said lead author Abbie Tingstad, who conducted the research as a graduate student in geography at UCLA. She is now an associate physical scientist at the RAND Corp...


    Bookmark   October 2, 2010 at 4:48PM
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