ARCHIVED  September 20, 2002

El Niño’s snows likely no cure for area drought

LOVELAND — Residents of this bustling town can see the effects of the drought on the city’s centerpiece lake everyday.

Lake Loveland’s shoreline is expanding as the drought retains its grip on Colorado.

Arvada residents Wayne and Melvina Linderer visited the lake recently to take advantage of the enlarged shoreline. In search of precious forgotten goods, the couple strolled along the sand with a metal detector and shovel in hand.

“We came up to visit our son in Windsor and decided to spend time out here looking for treasure,” Wayne Linderer said.

Unfortunately, the couple came away with only bottle caps and three pennies.

In the absence of water for recreation, Colorado residents are forced to find entertainment alternatives.

During a drought, many aspects of normal life are altered in the name of water conservation. Lawns are browner, showers are shorter and cars are dirtier. As the drought continues, many people are left to ask, “When will it all end?”

The Climate Diagnostics Center in Boulder may have the short-range answer to the question.

“I think it is very likely we will have an El Niño effect this winter,´ said Randall Dole, the center’s director. “Temperatures are above normal in the Pacific Ocean extending east. This year’s El Niño will be weaker than the one we experienced in ’97-’98.”

The Climate Prediction Center in Maryland is reporting that in November the drought is likely to improve and the impacts will ease.

According to the center’s Web site, “The West should see drought persisting through autumn, although the cooler weather and mountain snows expected by October in northern and central areas will ease the fire danger.”

The 2003 Farmers Almanac is calling for increased precipitation to help the parched land.

According to the almanac’s region 11 forecast, “Precipitation and snowfall will be below normal in the northeast (Nebraska, Iowa) above normal in the southeast (Missouri, Indiana) and near normal elsewhere.

Experts appear to agree that we should get snow this winter, but will it be enough to replenish the dwindling reservoirs?

“There is no good indicator that the El Niño will break the drought,” Dole said. “The reservoirs are so low, it takes time to fill them to capacity.”

According to Dole, drought effects are three-fold: meteorological, rangeland and hydrological. Meteorological drought occurs when there is a lack of precipitation; rangeland drought occurs when agriculture producers are affected, and hydrological drought happens when the reservoirs are severely depleted.

“The wet winter will help us get out of meteorological drought. Then, the precipitation will begin to help agriculture, but it will take awhile to help the reservoirs,” Dole said.

A wet winter may not end the drought, and according to Dole, this is confusing to some people.

“Drought impacts may remain next year and that’s confusing people,” Dole said. “When we get two to three inches of precipitation, people ask if the drought is over. It is going to take much longer to recover from the drought than people expect.”

Some people are taking the opposite stand and saying we are far from seeing the end of the drought.

Art Douglas, chairman of environmental and atmospheric sciences for Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., believes the drought will likely not end until 2007 — maybe even 2010 — depending on weather patterns.

Douglas is on sabbatical in Mexico and could not be reached for comment. But Gene Schleiger of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District shared Douglas’ findings at the July 29 meeting of the Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Committee.

According to Schleiger, Douglas believes this winter would need to produce 300 percent to 400 percent more than average precipitation. Even at 100 percent, only 60 percent would be estimated to enter the water system due to the dryness of the land.

Meanwhile, Dole believes the main influence affecting the drought is the jet stream; conditions will improve when the rain falls here.

“The jet stream needs to bring rain to the U.S. and stop raining on the fishies in the Pacific,” he said.

LOVELAND — Residents of this bustling town can see the effects of the drought on the city’s centerpiece lake everyday.

Lake Loveland’s shoreline is expanding as the drought retains its grip on Colorado.

Arvada residents Wayne and Melvina Linderer visited the lake recently to take advantage of the enlarged shoreline. In search of precious forgotten goods, the couple strolled along the sand with a metal detector and shovel in hand.

“We came up to visit our son in Windsor and decided to spend time out here looking for treasure,” Wayne Linderer said.

Unfortunately, the couple came away with only bottle caps and three…

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