Warm Spring May Mean Drought and Wildfires in West

none | Boulder Weekly

The early spring of 2012 raised both temperatures and eyebrows, including President Obama’s.

As reported in The Weekly Standard
and elsewhere, the President recently commented at an Atlanta
fundraiser: “When it is 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March,
you start thinking. On the other hand, I really have enjoyed nice
weather.” Now, in April, we’re seeing that this spring break may leave
us with a fierce hangover.

On April 10th, 61 percent of the lower 48 states were listed by the U.S. Drought Monitor to be in abnormally dry or drought conditions. And the Southwest, which largely relies on ice melt into the Colorado River Basin from the Rocky Mountains and previous years’ melt stored in the Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs
for its water supply, is poised for a dry, hot summer, because those
areas received less than 70 percent of the average snowfall according to
the USDA National Water & Climate Center.

These reservoirs are already at only 64 percent capacity following a decade-long drought
from 2000 to 2010. And the possibility of more drought years to come is
raising concerns over how to manage a river of which every drop (and
then some) is now allocated to some use.

Drought, however, may be only one factor in the drying up of the Colorado River Basin.

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