Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

CoCoRaHS: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network

2018 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, or CoCoRaHS. The network began on June 17, 1998 with just a handful of volunteer meteorological observers and has grown to over 20,000 volunteers across North America. Each time it rains, hails, or snows in their area, volunteers take measurements of the precipitation and the data is posted to the CoCoRaHS website. Current and historical data and maps about weather, climate, and precipitation can be downloaded off the site. Apps, publications, webinars, and educational tools are also available.

CoCoRaHS Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network Anniversary

CoCoRaHS is sponsored by Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center. View their website for even more meteorological data. The Climate Center has also issued numerous publications which you can find in our library’s web catalog.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Citizen Science

Colorado State University’s Natural Resources Economy Lab (NREL), along with several other partners, has developed CitSci.org, a site where everyday citizens can go to contribute data and scientific research.  Using the site, researchers can create a project, collect data, and view the results.  For instance, one of the site’s projects is a the “Front Range Pika Project,” where volunteers log photos and data on sightings of this endangered mountain critter. Other projects include tree species mapping, water data, birdwatching observations, invasive species monitoring, beaver sightings, butterfly-plant interactions, an amphibian survey, and much more.  You can log in to volunteer for any of the projects, or access the data to learn about the natural environment in Colorado and other states.

CSU also sponsors another, separate but also citizen-driven scientific data collection site, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, or CoCoRAHS.  As suggested in its name, this site relies on citizen volunteers to collect meteorological data.  You can use their site to find maps and data on precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and climate.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Tracking Colorado's Climate

It’s been a mild and dry November and December — but is this unusual for Colorado?  How does this year compare to temperatures in Colorado over the last century?

Ninety years ago, the Agricultural Experiment Station at Colorado Agricultural College (today’s Colorado State University) published The Climate of Colorado: A Forty-One Year Record, which you can read online courtesy of our library.  Table 2, on page 17 of the document, shows the daily low temperatures for each day in December from 1887 to 1927.  You can see by the table that on today’s date, December 5, the warmest low (minimum) temperature, 38 degrees F, occurred in 1896 (the coldest was in 1909, with -19 degrees F!).  Also, the warmest high (maximum) temperature for the month of December during the 1887-1927 period was 71.7, in 1921 — so highs in the 60s and 70s aren’t exactly new, as you can see from Table 15 on page 30 of the document.

CSU still tracks Colorado’s climate data.  Visit their Colorado Climate Center website to download temperature and precipitation data from weather stations across the state.  Available current and historical data includes daily, monthly, and yearly temperatures and precipitation; normals and extremes; state records; archived monthly climate reports; and much more.

Here are some other online resources from our library that give the history of Colorado’s climate:

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

September is National Preparedness Month

The recent hurricane events have demonstrated the importance of being prepared for disaster.  Even though we don’t get hurricanes in our state, there are a number of other disasters to prepare for — including both natural disasters (floods, fires, tornadoes, storms, avalanches, rockslides) and manmade disasters (terrorism, active shooters, power outages).  There are many personal incidents to prepare for as well — illness, identity theft, personal safety, home protection, and more.  ReadyColorado.com, sponsored by Colorado’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, can help you prepare for hazards large and small.

On the site you can find resources on how to create a preparedness plan for your home or office; how to stay informed of emergencies in your area; a calendar of events and training; 8 signs of terrorism; a natural hazards map; pet safety; resources for educators; resources for people with disabilities; and a blog.  Recent entries in their blog include a wide variety of topics including pedestrian safety, business continuity planning, bears, immunizations, heatstroke prevention, campfire safety, internet safety, and drone safety.  Before the next disaster – personal or community-wide – affects you, check out this informative site.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Hurricane Information

2017 is turning out to be a historic year for hurricane activity in the U.S., as the Gulf Coast works to recover from Hurricane Harvey and the Atlantic Coast braces for Hurricane Irma.  While we don’t have to worry about hurricanes in Colorado, our state’s two largest universities both engage in significant research on hurricanes.

At Colorado State University, the Tropical Meteorology Project predicts Atlantic hurricane activity and landfall probability each year.  The project was founded by renowned scientist Dr. William Gray, who passed away in 2016.  Gray began his annual predictions in 1984, and they are continued today by his mentee, Dr. Phil Klotzbach of CSU’s Department of Atmospheric Science.  So what did Klotzbach predict for this year?  You can find the 2017 (and previous years’) predictions available online from our library.  The reports contain lots of stats and data supporting the predictions, but the bottom line is, on August 4 Klotzbach and associate Michael Bell predicted that “the probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States Coastline and in the Caribbean is above-normal.”  Given what we are seeing right now as Irma gathers speed in the Caribbean, it looks like the researchers were spot-on.

A different kind of hurricane research takes place at the University of Colorado.  Instead of predicting hurricanes, researchers at the university’s Natural Hazards Center study the aftermath of the events, how they affect the people who live through them, and how emergency responders can learn from the events.  While the Center researches all kinds of disasters, hurricanes make up a significant part of their research because there have been so many devastating ones in the last several decades.  You can find the Center’s reports in our library; some particularly apropos titles include: 

Check out the Natural Hazards Center’s website for preliminary resources on Hurricane Harvey.

*As of this writing the possibility exists for Hurricane Irma to exceed Hurricane Andrew in intensity and damage in Florida.  This year marks the 25th Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

1997 Fort Collins Flood

Twenty years ago today a major flood hit Fort Collins.  Heavy rainfall of 3 inches per hour began late in the evening of July 27 and continued throughout the day on the 28th.  Homes were flooded, a train derailed, a gas leak caused an explosion near Prospect Road, and in the end, the flood left five people dead.  The flood also caused major damage to more than a dozen buildings on the Colorado State University Campus, including the Lory Student Center, the Morgan Library, and the Administration Annex.  CSU is recalling the event with a series of articles that include a timeline of the flood, meteorological analysis, videos and slideshows, and personal recollections.

The State Publications Library also has several interesting resources on the 1997 Fort Collins flood, including

The 1997 flood was certainly not the first flood to hit the Fort Collins area, and interestingly, just one year before the flood, the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Natural Hazards Center convened a meeting in Fort Collins to address “What We Have Learned Since the Big Thompson Flood,” Northern Colorado’s worst flood disaster which had hit twenty years before.  The official proceedings from the meeting can be checked out from our library.  Also, following another, smaller flood in June 1992, the City of Fort Collins and the state’s Emergency Management Office issued a Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan for Fort Collins, which can also be checked out from our library.

Flood damage at Colorado State University’s Morgan Library, July 1997.  Photo courtesy Morgan Library.
Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Severe Storms

Yesterday the Colorado front range was hit hard with a storm producing heavy rains, hail, lightning, and high winds.  The months of May and June typically see the most severe thunderstorm activity on the Colorado plains…in fact, Colorado also experienced a severe storm exactly sixty years ago, May 8, 1957.  I found this factoid by viewing the Colorado Extreme Storm Precipitation Data Study, published exactly twenty years ago, May 1997, by the Colorado Climate Center.  A division of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, the Colorado Climate Center keeps volumes of data on Colorado weather, which can be accessed on their website.  Many of their studies and reports, like the one referenced above, have been digitized and are available online.

One of the Extreme Storm report’s co-authors, Dr. Nolan Doesken, still heads the Climate Center and is Colorado’s official State Climatologist.  In his forty years with CSU, Doesken has published dozens of reports, many of which you can find in our library, both online and in print.

The most notable aspect of yesterday’s storm was the extensive, damaging hail.  In 1969, CSU’s Atmospheric Science Department published two technical studies on Colorado hailstorms, The Influence of Vertical Wind Shear on Hailstorm Development and Structure and Stability and Dynamic Processes in the Formation of High Plains HailstormsBoth reports are available online from our library.  Also available online is the report of another year’s severe spring weather:  Numerical Simulation of the May 15 and April 26, 1991 Tornadic ThunderstormsFor more Colorado meteorology resources, search our library’s online catalog.

 

Image credit:  Wikipedia commons

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Caring for Storm-Damaged Trees

Spring snowstorms and freezes like those experienced in Denver metro area this weekend can cause significant tree damage, due to the cold in combination with the weight of the snow on trees that have already leafed out.  If you experienced tree damage this weekend, the Colorado State University Extension and Colorado State Forest Service have several publications that offer helpful tips on caring for storm-damaged trees, and how to prevent damage before a storm:

Photo courtesy Colorado State Forest Service

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Avalanches

Avalanche danger is nothing new in Colorado.  Forty years ago, the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research issued their publication Century of Struggle Against Snow:  A History of Avalanche Hazard in San Juan County, ColoradoThe publication, which can be viewed online via our library, examines avalanches and avalanche disasters in the San Juan region of Colorado from 1875-1975.  “San Juan County was a booming gold- and silver-producing area, reaching its peak in population, mineral production, and, correspondingly, avalanche deaths and destruction of property during the period 1880 through World War I.”

According to the publication, major avalanche disasters occurred in March 1884, February 1891, and March 1906.  The latter avalanche took the lives of twelve men employed by the Shenandoah Mine.

Using weather data, photographs, newspaper stories, personal interviews, and other accounts, the publication tells a fascinating story about the danger of avalanches — their causes, geographic areas, case studies, and human stories.  Century of Struggle Against Snow gives the historical background on avalanches while the companion reports Avalanche Release and Snow Characteristics, San Juan Mountains, Colorado and Avalanche Atlas: San Juan County provide further data and technical information.

For more on avalanches yesterday and today, search our library’s web catalog.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Predicting Disaster

In 1998 the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Center issued a paper entitled What Hazards and Disasters Are Likely in the 21st Century — Or Sooner?  This paper predicted that disasters in the new millennium would go beyond the natural disasters of the previous centuries to include:

1.Events and conditions that exacerbate existing technological hazards;
This prediction was mainly related to the fears over Y2K, which passed essentially without incident.  (Search our library’s web catalog for resources on how the State of Colorado prepared for Y2K).  

2.Greater, more deadly impacts of natural hazards – including weather events;
The 2003 Hayman Fire.  Photo courtesy USDA.
The Center nailed this prediction.  Some of the greatest natural disasters in recent history occurred in the 21st century:  The Haiti earthquake (2010), Hurricane Katrina (2005), the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (2004), Japan’s Tohoku Hurricane and Tsunami (2011), the New Zealand Earthquake (2011), and others.  Here in Colorado, the new century saw the terrible fire seasons of 2002 and 2013 and the major floods of 2013.
3.Less confidence in and security for physical facilities, information systems, and databases;
The essay discusses a widespread pager failure that year.  Guess we don’t have to worry about that one anymore.  
4.Human error – intentional and unintentional;
This section relates to technology.  Again the author discusses Y2K here; computer viruses are also discussed.  
 
5.Biological and chemical hazards, including: Biotechnology hazards, Marine toxins;
The 2011 U.S. cantaloupe listeriosis outbreak started right here in Colorado.  
6.Terrorism;
Interesting that terrorism landed sixth on the author’s list, just three years before 9/11.  Numerous attacks the world over have occurred in the 21st century, including several incidents of domestic terrorism here in the U.S.  The essay does contain this eerie sentence:  “Terrorism may take the form of destruction of infrastructure (as in the New York Trade Center bombing [1993]) and/or harming or killing large numbers of people (as in the Oklahoma City federal office building bombing [1995]).”
7.Distant (international) sources of disasters.

This section of the essay discusses the effects of international disasters on U.S. resources as the world becomes more globalized.
Search our library’s web catalog and digital repository for numerous other publications on disasters and hazards, including publications from Colorado state emergency management agencies as well as CU’s Natural Hazards Center.
Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Average Annual Precipitation, 1951-1980

In 1984 the Colorado Climate Center, part of Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science, conducted a study of the average precipitation trends for Colorado for the years 1951 through 1980.  They found that statewide average precipitation for the period dropped from previous studies. Their report includes maps, graphs, and calculations on factors such as snowpack.  The report also examined changes in precipitation levels in certain areas of the state over time.  For example, Longmont and Greeley became wetter over the study period, while the San Luis Valley became drier.  The information presented in this report can be compared with current and recent years’ precipitation levels available from the Colorado Climate Center.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Governor John Hickenlooper has declared June 22-28, 2014, as Colorado Lightning Safety Awareness Week.  Click on the image below to read the Governor’s official proclamation.  You can find several informative articles about lightning safety at Ready Colorado, the state’s official preparedness website.  Recently-posted articles include The Science of Thunderstorms and Lightning, Lightning Safety Outside, and a Lightning Safety Overview

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Climate Center – 2013 Flood Data

Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center has compiled a special website devoted to last September’s floods.  This website has extensive climatological data on the floods, including satellite imagery, a timeline, records and storm totals, accumulation graphs, streamflow runoff, and more.  The site also includes a section with numerous photographs from the affected areas.  They are also accepting your photo submissions.  The Colorado Climate Center also offers helpful resources on a variety of meteorological topics specific to Colorado, including snow, drought, climate trends, precipitation monitoring, and more.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Front Range Blizzards

This month marks the 100-year anniversary of Denver’s worst-recorded blizzard, the blizzard of December 1-5, 1913.  (Read the 1913 newspaper story and view photos here).  The blizzard dumped 45.7 inches in Denver, and piles of snow moved to Civic Center didn’t melt until the following July.
Ten years ago, in March 2003, Denver’s second-worst blizzard (in terms of snow totals) hit the Front Range, with 31.8 inches of snow, well shy of the 1913 record.  You can find very interesting comparisons of the 1913 and 2003 storms in two periodicals available from our libraryThe 2003 issue Colorado Climate contains a comparison in terms of water measurement, while the Autumn 2003 issue of Colorado Heritage includes a historical comparison, “Colorado is Snowbound — the Great Front Range Blizzard of 1913 (and its 2003 Counterpart).”       
Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Winter Weather Preparedness Week

This is Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado.  Get ready for the coming winter storms by checking out some of the resources from state agencies, including:

For more on Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Colorado, see the blog posting from the Colorado Division of Emergency Management.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Tornado Safety

This is the time of year when tornadoes are a threat, so it’s important to know what to do in case a tornado strikes or a funnel cloud is spotted.  The state of Colorado-sponsored www.ReadyColorado.com is full of helpful preparedness information, including blog postings on Colorado Tornado Preparedness and creating a Family Communications Plan in case of a tornado.  This website can also assist you with creating a preparedness plan for your family, neighborhood, school, business, finances, people with disabilities, and pets/livestock

For additional information, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tornadoes page and the Tornado Annex from the Colorado State Emergency Operations Plan, produced by the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Backcountry Avalanche Forecasts

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Much of the central Colorado mountains is under “considerable” avalanche danger conditions right now, as evidenced by several recent deaths.  The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) monitors avalanche conditions and constantly updates their Backcountry Forecasts page with the latest information.  Right now, the Front Range, Vail and Summit Counties, and the Sawatch Range are all under what the CAIC has termed “considerable” danger:  “Dangerous avalanche conditions.  Careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding and conservative decision-making essential.”  This helpful resource also provides information on weather, snowpack, and other essential information.  So if you’re headed to the high country, be sure and check this site to determine which parts of the state are not safe.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Winter Driving Tips

CDOT imageAs fall moves toward winter, now is the time to get ready.  The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has all the information you need on their Winter Driving webpage.  Here you can find links to road conditions and travel advisories; chain laws and locations of chain up stations for commercial trucks; avalanche control near highways; and more.  You can also find several CDOT publications available from our library that offer winter driving information, including the I-70 Eagle County Winter Travel Guide and Slick Tips:  Colorado Winter Driving Handbook.  So whether it’s a quick trip around town or a long drive to the high country, be sure and follow these tips, quoted here from CDOT:
  • Be sure to carry plenty of windshield wiper fluid as liquid de-icers may stick to your windshield
  • Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room
  • Slow down!  Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery
  • Don’t use cruise control when traveling in winter conditions
  • Be prepared.  Have a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, matches and nonperishable food in your car
  • Make sure your tires have good tread
Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms in the U.S.

As the East Coast prepares for Hurricane Sandy, you can read about hurricanes and tropical storms in a number of documents available from our library.  Information about hurricanes in Colorado documents, you say?  The answer is yes.  Colorado’s two major research universities both study hurricanes.  Colorado State University is considered to have one of the nation’s foremost hurricane research programs, the Tropical Meteorology Project.  In August, CSU’s Hurricane Forecast Team issued their predictions for the remainder of the 2012 season, which you can read here.  Their predictions include “a 48{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} chance that a major hurricane will make landfall on the U.S. coastline.” 

The University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Center, meanwhile, studies the human and sociological impact of all kinds of disasters, including hurricanes.  They publish a number of short research studies; some that relate to hurricanes in the area currently affected by Sandy include:

This is just a sampling; be sure to check our web catalog for more information.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Hooray! It's Spring!

Spring has sprung and there are many things to do now that the weather is warmer.  We people aren’t the only ones glad for the warmer weather; wildlife are also getting ready for the new season.  Check out these two Colorado’s Wildlife Company publications from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, that deal with animals in spring:  They’re Back! and Hearken! It’s Spring!

If you are involved in agriculture or even home gardening, spring is an important time of the year for planning and planting.  We have many, many publications in our library with information on agriculture; for a few resources specific to spring planting, see Spring Planted Bulbs, Corms and Roots and Fertilizing Spring-Seeded Small Grains.  For those raising livestock, see Pastures for Spring and Fall Grazing in Mountains of Colorado.

Snow is melting, of course, and this can cause issues for transportation.  See the Colorado Department of Highways’ publication Spring Breakup Study for information on what happens to asphalt when the weather changes.

Spring is also time to play outside!  Be sure to check our web catalog for more information, such as outdoor recreation guides and maps.

Categories
Colorado State Publications Blog

Avalanche Danger

The conditions in the high country are ripe for an avalanche right now. In the last few days several people have died or have been injured in avalanche related events. Make sure to check the Back Country Forecasts from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center before heading up to ski. In addition to forecasts and current observations, the Center has accident reports and statistics and also links to online tutorials. If you’d like to learn about avalanches and how they form, the Colorado Geological Survey has a nice explanation in “Rock Talk: Focus on Avalanches.”