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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Colorado’s snowpack is melting at an “ridiculous” rate

Colorado's snowpack is melting at an "ridiculous" rate

Experts say Colorado didn’t see enough snow this winter to fully recover from the ongoing megadrought, and that the snow the state saw now is melting too quickly.

Becky Bollinger of the Colorado Climate Center told The Denver Post, “If we continue at the rate at which we may see a complete meltdown by the end of May or the beginning of June.”

It’s too early. For several weeks, she said. So drought conditions are likely to worsen, which officials predict could be the worst wildfires in Colorado history.

Already fire restrictions seem to be more common than usual. And experts have questioned whether Colorado is prepared for another devastating wildfire like the Marshall Fire, which burned through a record number of homes and businesses in December.

As an example of the melt out, Bollinger pointed to the San Juan Mountains in the southwest corner of the state. He said the ice there is melting at an “ridiculous” rate.

“They should still have about 8.5 inches of snowpack,” Bollinger said. “And they’re at 2 (inches).”

The mountains in northern Colorado are doing somewhat better, Bollinger said, but eventually the earlier melting means water will be quickly absorbed or evaporated by dry soil. The more drawn out melt outs, which typically last through mid-June, boost water supplies more efficiently, recharging the state’s arid waterways and plant life.

Windy and sunny conditions in April, combined with low humidity levels, caused high levels of evaporation, Colorado Climate Center director Russ Schumacher told a group of climatologists Tuesday morning. This is equivalent to a “thirsty atmosphere”, which forces surface water to evaporate.

Bollinger said that as the ice melts, some of the state’s waterways — such as the Colorado, Gunnison, Rio Grande and San Juan Rivers — may see a short-term uplift, but eventually flow into the water below average. The severity of those conditions will depend on whether Colorado sees cooler temperatures and additional snow in the coming weeks.

“And none of them are on the horizon,” Bollinger said.

The melt out also comes on the heels of an extremely dry April, setting records along the Eastern Plains, said Zach Schwalbe, manager of the Colorado Agricultural Meteorological Network, in the group Climatologist Discussion.

Not only does the lack of moisture and early melting increase the risk of wildfires across the state, but it also cuts into Colorado’s $47 billion agricultural industry.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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