Boulder’s Water Year


Nothing unusual here.


  1. ClimateCrocks provides some detail:

    I'm going to provide a copious extract from the text though it would be preferable to go to the link itself with illustrations and all, because it's time to pay close attention to this part of change, which is here now, not tomorrow or next year. From the looks of it, this is a Sandy-scale catastrophe unfolding day by day and not over though predictions look better today. Unfortunately, a lot of people we regard as friends are cut off: high concentration of climate scientists in the area.

    A senior researcher familiar with the emerging science of weather extemes tells me by email:

    “This is another example of a very amplified or wavy pattern in the jet stream causing unusual and slow-moving weather patterns…”

    “Through the first half of September there has been a very strong northward bulge (or ridge) in the jet over western Canada that created the easterly flow south of the ridge that brought moist air from the Gulf of Mexico up the east side of the Rockies where it condensed into rain — lots of it in Boulder.”


    “…but it’s another example of the kinds of wavy jet stream patterns that we expect to see happen more frequently in the future. Just amazing photos and videos coming out of this story!”

    Here’s how it happened: A blocking pattern has set up over the western United States, drawing a conveyor belt of tropical moisture north from coastal Mexico. Blocking patterns form when the jet stream slows to a crawl, and weather patterns get stuck in place. When all that warm, wet air hit the Rocky Mountains, it had nowhere to go but up, pushed further skyward by the mountains themselves. By some measurements, the atmosphere at the time of the heaviest rains was the among most soaked it has ever been in Colorado.

    Gauge measurements show floodwaters in Colorado have now exceeded the legendary Big Thompson Canyon Flood of 1976, the flood of record for the region. In downtown Boulder, a meandering creek expanded 40-fold in just a few hours. ...

    Earlier this summer, similarly devastating floods have hit Las Vegas, Nevada, and Calgary, Canada, and the basic cause has been the same: tropical moisture making its way to places it shouldn’t be, in amounts rarely seen before. This is not a fluke event, nor something that’s going to go away.

    Why it will keep happening: Blocking patterns are fertile ground for extreme weather. A blocking pattern near Greenland was also to blame for steering Superstorm Sandy toward the east coast of the United States last fall. Persistent high pressure this year in the western United States has led to what is (so far) California’s driest year on record. That, in turn, fueled last month’s massive Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park, which grew to a size larger than New York City.

  2. Graphic needs updating; now this is the wettest year in recorded history in Boulder.

    Boulder's knock-on problem is the kind of emergent chain not necessarily obvious when thinking about climate change. Slopes denuded by fire --and-- more moisture and energy in the air.

  3. Speaking of knock-on, it has been claimed in some quarters that there is an embargo on mentioning multiple fracking messes around Boulder:

    In fact, any location that is storing any kind of toxic waste is vulnerable to the onslaught of extreme events.

    In addition, it has been pointed out that Mexico is experiencing a phenomenon that is very similar. We'd better start paying attention soon and stop assuming everything will be OK and somebody else is taking care of us.

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  6. The news on oil and gas leaks is finally coming out. I hope people are looking at that video, which is quite startling.

    "uncompromising in defense of the earth" - it's past time ...

    The environmental damage still was being assessed, but officials in Weld County, where the spills took place, said the oil was just one among a host of contaminants caught up in floodwaters washing through communities along the Rocky Mountain foothills.

    "Everybody is oil and gas, but our concern from the county is raw sewage," spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said.

    Fertilizer and pesticides and sewage all pose a major threat to the environment after the rains, but much of the worry surrounds the oil and gas production technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - a newer feature in the state where energy output is on the rise.

    Fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand deep underground to fracture shale rock deposits that hold vast amounts of oil and gas. Large amounts of that water returns to the surface and is stored in the kind of tanks that have been seen floating away in the Colorado floods.

    Some companies in Colorado, including Encana Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. do disclose the fracking chemicals used in Weld County wells, according to Frac Focus, a website where energy firms can list substances they use. The drilling fluids contain hydrochloric acid, benzyl chloride and many other chemicals.

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