Lauren Boebert discusses, defends her backstory during Durango visit ~ The Colorado Sun

“I wish more members of Congress had the life experiences that I’ve had,” she said. “I’m living the American dream. I came up from welfare, standing in line waiting for government cheese, to now running for Congress.”

By Patrick Armijo, The Durango Herald

Mexican farmers occupy dam to stop water payments to the United States ~ The Washington Post

Mexican farmers protest water shipments owed to U.S.

Two major Antarctic glaciers are tearing loose from their restraints, scientists say ~ The Washington Post

Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers already contribute 5 percent of sea-level rise.

Enormous curved crevasses near the Pine Island Glacier shear margin. (Brooke Medley/NASA)

‘Hundreds of thousands, if not millions’: New Mexico sees massive migratory bird deaths ~ Las Cruses SUN NEWS



LAS CRUCES – Biologists from New Mexico State University and White Sands Missile Range examined nearly 300 dead migratory birds Saturday at Knox Hall on the university’s main campus.

Over the past few weeks, various species of migratory birds are dying in “unprecedented” numbers of unknown causes, reported Martha Desmond, a professor at NMSU’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology.

“It is terribly frightening,” Desmond said. “We’ve never seen anything like this. … We’re losing probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of migratory birds.”

In August, large numbers of birds were found dead at White Sands Missile Range and at the White Sands National Monument in what was thought to be an isolated incident, Desmond said.

After that, however, came reports of birds behaving strangely and dying in numerous locations in Doña Ana County, Jemez Pueblo, Roswell, Socorro and other locations statewide.

The affected birds have included warblers, sparrows, swallows, blackbirds, flycatchers, and the western wood pewee.

“A number of these species are already in trouble,” Desmond said. “They are already experiencing huge population declines and then to have a traumatic event like this is – it’s devastating.”

On Saturday, Desmond was joined by Trish Cutler, a wildlife biologist at WSMR, and two NMSU students for an initial evaluation of the carcasses.

Desmond said her team also began catching and evaluating living specimens on Friday as residents find birds behaving strangely and gathering in large groups before dying.

A variety of dead migratory birds collected from White Sands Missile Range and sites in Doña Ana County, N.M. were examined by researchers at Knox Hall at New Mexico State University prior to being sent for necropsy on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

“People have been reporting that the birds look sleepy … they’re just really lethargic,” Cutler said. “One thing we’re not seeing is our resident birds mixed in with these dead birds. We have resident birds that live here, some of them migrate and some of them don’t, but we’re not getting birds like roadrunners or quail or doves.”

On the other hand, numerous migratory species are dying rapidly and it is not immediately clear why, although the cause appears to be recent. Desmond said the birds had moulted, replacing their feathers in preparation for their flight south, “and you have to be healthy to do that; but somewhere after that, as they initiated their migratory route, they got in trouble.”



The appointment of a climate change denier to NOAA comes as Americans face profound threats stoked by climate change, from the vast, deadly wildfires in the West to an unusually active hurricane season in the South and East.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images

Updated at 6:15 p.m. 

David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Legates confirmed to NPR that he was recently hired as NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. The position suggests that he reports directly to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency that is in charge of the federal government’s sprawling weather and climate prediction work.

Neither Legates nor NOAA representatives responded to questions about Legates’ specific responsibilities or why he was hired. The White House also declined to comment.

Legates has a long history of using his position as an academic scientist to publicly cast doubt on climate science. His appointment to NOAA comes as Americans face profound threats stoked by climate change, from the vast, deadly wildfires in the West to an unusually active hurricane season in the South and East.

Global temperatures have already risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Warming is happening the fastest at the Earth’s poles, where sea ice is melting, permafrost is thawing and ocean temperatures are heating up, with devastating effects on animals and humans alike.

In 2007, Legates was one of the authors of a paper that questioned previous findings about the role of climate change in destroying the habitat of polar bears. That research was partially funded by grants from Koch Industries, the lobbying group the American Petroleum Institute and ExxonMobil, according to InsideClimate News.

The same year, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner sent a letter to Legates expressing concern about his opinions on climate change, given that he was the state climatologist at the time. Minner asked him to refrain from casting doubt on climate science when he was acting in his official role. Legates stepped down in 2011.

Legates also appeared in a video pushing the discredited theory that the sun is the cause of global warming. In testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2014, Legates argued that a climate science report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change erroneously stated that humans are causing global warming.

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

Saludos desde el Centro de Avalancha Río Blanco

Rio Blanco Avalanche Interns Finn and Leighton on their lunch break.

Avalanche Center Director and Parol Officer Mark Rawstoned (wearing his old and faded CDOT headpiece) with his Avy crew.


September 10, 20205:13 PM ET


A baby turtle is released into the ocean in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, part of a campaign to save the endangered Lekang sea turtles. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)Firdia Lisnawati/AP

Human activities have caused the world’s wildlife populations to plummet by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund. 

The decline is happening at an unprecedented rate, the report warns, and it threatens human life as well. 

“The findings are clear,” the report states. “Our relationship with nature is broken.”

The Living Planet Report 2020 report drew on wildlife monitoring of more than 4,300 different vertebrate species – animals, fish, birds and amphibians – from around the world. It found that population sizes for those monitored species declined by an average of 68 percent from 1970 to 2016. 

In the American tropics, including the Caribbean and Latin America, population sizes decreased by a staggering 94 percent. 

Forest clearing for agricultural space was the predominant cause of the decline, the report says, noting that one-third of the planet’s land is currently being used for food production. Human-caused climate change is another growing driver. 

“We can’t ignore the evidence – these serious declines in wildlife species populations are an indicator that nature is unraveling and that our planet is flashing red warning signs of systems failure,” wrote Marco Lambertini, Director General of World Wildlife Fund International. 

The 83-page document, a collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, joins a growing and ominous list of academic research and international reports warning that human activities are causing a steep decline in global biodiversity. 

Protecting biodiversity amounts to protecting humanity. 

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay

The United Nations published a sweeping report last year cautioning that 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on the planet are at risk of extinction, many within decades, because of human activities. It made a similar plea for people to care, punctuated with a warning:

“Protecting biodiversity amounts to protecting humanity,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, said at the time of the report’s release. 

A subsequent United Nations report, published in July of this year, warned that biodiversity loss, and humans’ destruction of nature, would lead to an increase in animal-to-human diseases, like COVID-19. The pandemic has also reportedly contributed to an increase in deforestation in some parts of the world, amplifying the risk. 

Scientists have long-warned that the world is entering a sixth mass extinction, driven by humanity’s consumption of wildlife and wild spaces, and the burning of fossil fuels. Global warming will also cause ecosystems to shift faster than some species can adapt. 

Actions can be taken to slow the decline. An article published Thursday in the journal Nature outlined steps that the global community could take to “bend the curve” on biodiversity loss. People could rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding the worst climate change scenarios; vast tracts of land and sea could be conserved; damaged areas could be restored; and food production practices could evolve to lighten its impact on existing ecosystems. 

The World Wildlife Fund’s report says the planet’s ecosystems only have a limited ability to regenerate, a process that it says is essential to all life on Earth. 

The report’s authors compared ecosystems’ ability to regenerate with the ever-growing human population and found an ecological imbalance.

“The human enterprise currently demands 1.56 times more than the amount that Earth can regenerate,” the report says.


La Niña patterns favor enhanced hurricane activity over the Atlantic.

Current sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius. Note the cool waters in the eastern Pacific commensurate with La Niña. (Tropical Tidbits) 

By Matthew CappucciSeptember 10, 2020 at 2:15 p.m. MDTAdd to list

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Thursday that a La Niña pattern had become established, having bearing on the remainder of the hurricane season and the upcoming winter. La Niña conditions are likely to continue through at least wintertime, potentially returning to a more relaxed “neutral” state by spring.

Seven tropical systems to watch, including longer term U.S. threat, on peak day of hurricane season

La Niña, which means “the girl” in Spanish, is the opposite of an El Niño. La Niña features unusually cool ocean waters in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean and can influence weather patterns beyond the Pacific.

The expectation of a La Niña pattern was a contributor in NOAA’s early August forecast of an “extremely active” hurricane season.

La Niñas and El Niños, which represent opposite phases of ENSO, or the El Niño Southern Oscillation, are major drivers of weather and climate trends in North America.

NOAA's estimated likelihood of La Niña to continue in the coming months. (NOAA/NWS)
NOAA’s estimated likelihood of La Niña to continue in the coming months. (NOAA/NWS) 

Much of late 2018 through early 2020 had skewed a bit more toward the weak El Niño side. Now, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction, which will have major implications in the months ahead.

What is a La Niña?

A historical chart of La Niña events (blue) and El Niño events (red). (NWS Tampa Bay)
A historical chart of La Niña events (blue) and El Niño events (red). (NWS Tampa Bay) 

A La Niña pattern is characterized by anomalously cool sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific. That’s the opposite of an El Niño, during which the east tropical Pacific is atypically toasty.AD

With a significant change in ocean temperatures ongoing and further in the offing, a La Niña alters several key circulation patterns in the atmosphere and can influence weather across the globe.

Most La Niña events last for at least several months but can occasionally stretch for years. Strong La Niñas occurred between 1973-1976, 1988-1989 and from 1998 to early 2001.

Winter weather

A typical wintertime La Niña pattern. (NOAA/NWS)
A typical wintertime La Niña pattern. (NOAA/NWS) 

NOAA forecasters have stated there is a 75 percent chance that La Niña will stick around for the entirety of winter. Generally speaking, La Niña typically increases the odds of above-average snowfall in the Pacific Northwest, northern Plains, Great Lakes region and northern New England. However, every La Niña is different, and other weather patterns can overwhelm its effects.AD

In the Mid-Atlantic, South, southern/central Plains and Southwest, snow may be more scarce. 

The impending La Niña is bad news for Central and Southern California, where potentially reduced snowpack at the higher elevations and fewer winter storms may prolong this year’s fire season, already a record, and set the stage for a challenging 2021.

Severe weather impacts 

A look at typical wintertime storm tracks during La Niña versus El Niño years. During La Niña years, the jet stream is typically farther north, with fewer storm systems passing directly over the South. (NWS Tallahassee)
A look at typical wintertime storm tracks during La Niña versus El Niño years. During La Niña years, the jet stream is typically farther north, with fewer storm systems passing directly over the South. (NWS Tallahassee) 

Because La Niña patterns shift the location of the jet stream farther north, there is generally less unsettled weather in the wintertime across the southern United States. This means drier, and subsequently warmer, conditions are likely for the Desert Southwest, South and Southeast.

It also limits the number of wintertime severe weather events in Florida and the South, commonly known as “Dixie Alley” by storm chasers. Disturbances in the jet stream can cause severe weather and tornado activity across the Interstate 10 corridor, particularly from Louisiana and Mississippi to Alabama, Florida and Georgia, between December and February. But with the jet stream retreating farther north, those chances are significantly diminished.

In fact, tornadoes in this region are only half as common during La Niña winters as compared with El Niño winters, welcome news for residents who live there.

A look at severe weather tendencies from March through May during El Niño and La Niña years. (
A look at severe weather tendencies from March through May during El Niño and La Niña years. ( 

Between March and May, however, a La Niña pattern can increase tornado and severe thunderstorm incidence for portions of the central and southern Plains, as well as into portions of Arkansas, northern Louisiana and the central Mississippi Valley.

It is unclear whether this La Niña will still be in place by then, though.


The Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Page, Arizona. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Jason Blevins

Decades of collaborative agreements between the states that rely on the Colorado River could be threatened by the Trump Administration plan to expedite review of Utah’s diversion project

For more than 20 years, negotiations among the seven states that rely on the Colorado River have avoided lawsuits, even as drought and population growth threaten the river’s flows.

That may change as a promise to rush the environmental review of a diversion project between the Colorado River’s upper and lower basins has six states suggesting lawsuits challenging the project could topple years of agreements. 

Colorado this week joined Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Wyoming in protesting a fast-tracked environmental review of the 140-mile Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah. Using special “national emergency” executive powers the president has during the pandemic, the Trump Administration in June ordered the Interior Department to scale back environmental reviews of major infrastructure projects.

“Antiquated regulations and bureaucratic practices have hindered American infrastructure investments” and slowed growth in construction and trade jobs, President Donald Trump said in the June 4 executive order.

“Unnecessary regulatory delays will deny our citizens opportunities for jobs and economic security, keeping millions of Americans out of work and hindering our economic recovery from the national emergency,” Trump wrote in the order, which did not cite specific projects. The Associated Press last week identifiedmore than 60 energy, environmental, natural resource and transportation projects slated for expedited review, including the Lake Powell Pipeline. 

The six states, in a letter sent Tuesday to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, said the probability of multi-year litigation over a rushed approval of the 20-year-old Lake Powell Pipeline plan was “high.”

The Colorado River Basin states have been working with Utah on details of the Lake Powell Pipeline plan for years. The project would divert 86,000 acre-feet of Utah’s allocated water from Lake Powell — which is the largest storage bank for managing upper basin water — to fast-growing downstream communities in the Colorado River’s lower basin in southwest Utah. 

The headwaters of the Colorado River in Grand County. (Nina Riggio, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The issue is not necessarily the actual water. The project would move water that belongs to Utah. But the transfer of water from the upper basin to the lower basin has traditionally involved agreement between all seven Colorado River Basin states on details like accounting for the diverted water and how that fits into recent drought plans. The states were working on those details when the project was identified for a hurried final decision.

“This diversion and use of Colorado River water as currently described by Utah and the Lake Powell Pipeline Draft Environmental Impact Statement … raises significant questions” under 1922 and 1948 agreements, reads the letter, which notes that the basin states did agree to divert upper basin water to the lower basin in New Mexico with the under-construction Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.

“As a result of the collaborative approach embodied in these successes and other efforts, we have not only limited the risk that the Colorado River system will crash, we have done so without introducing the unpredictability and untimeliness of having courts weigh in on Colorado River management,” the letter reads.

The six states have not spoken publicly about Utah’s Lake Powell Pipeline project until now. 

Colorado’s border with Utah. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Public comment on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement studying the pipeline ended Tuesday, setting up a final decision that could come soon under the Trump Administration’s order to fast-track the process. 

“The Lake Powell Pipeline’s prospects for success are substantially diminished if we are compelled to address such issues in the context of the current Lake Powell NEPA process rather than through the collaborative, seven-state process we have developed,” the letter to Bernhardt from the six states reads. 

The states also said the lawsuits likely would raise “certain Law of the River questions” that should be left to the states to resolve. Wrangling in court, the letter reads, “is not the recipe for creating the kind of meaningful and positive change needed to sustain the Colorado River in the coming decades.”

The line between the upper and lower basins anchors the complex arrangement among Colorado River Basin states known as the Law of the River, which dates back to 1922 and governs pretty much every drop of the Colorado River. 

The Law of the River has been forged through collaborative work among all seven states that rely on the Colorado River. As a now 21-year drought shrinks flows in the river while populations grow in each of the states, the compacts governing the Colorado River have been reached without the need for lawsuits or legal intervention forcing cuts or curtailments. Interim guidelines for lower basin shortages and last year’s “pain-sharing” drought contingency plans involved intense negotiations among the states as the volume of water flowing down the Colorado River failed to meet the demand. All of those negotiations revolve around storage and releases in the basin’s two impoundments, Lake Mead and Lake Powell. 

A rushed Final Environmental Impact Statement could establish protocols for moving water from the upper basin to the lower basin without basin-wide agreement on details like the accounting of the diversion, use of the water and other operational issues under the Law of the River. 

“Really what we were trying to convey in the letter is that the Colorado River Basin states have a long history of working together collaboratively and working toward consensus,” said Becky Mitchell, the director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board who signed the letter to Bernhardt. “These relationships have successfully guided the management and operations of the system for many years. That’s why we have requested the Department of Interior refrain from issuing the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision until we have time to really reach consensus on the legal and operational issues.”

Todd Adams, the director of the Utah Division of Water Resources, said in a statement that he believed a resolution could be reached among basin states, pointing to water projects across the West that have been negotiated by basin states while under federal review. The project would use about 5% of Utah’s share of its Colorado River water and Adams said the water is “critical” to meeting the needs of Washington County. 

“Without the project, the economic viability and water security of one of the fastest-growing regions in the United States will be harmed,” Adams said. “As we’ve done in the past, we remain committed to working with the other basin states to mitigate their concerns raised by Utah’s intent to use a portion of its Colorado River allotment to provide water to Washington County. We will work diligently to address their concerns over the coming months.”


Do you ever wonder what meteorologists mean when they mention “models”, and how these models are used to forecast the weather? Here’s the breakdown.

What are weather forecast models?

Weather forecast models are computer programs that can help predict what the weather will be in the future, any time in the future from an hour to ten days out and even months ahead.

These forecast models take current weather observations collected from thousands of locations (such as wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, pressure, etc.), make an estimate about the current weather for locations where no actual data exists, and then use math and physics equations to predict what will happen in the future.

Below is an image from the “GFS” forecast model showing areas of high and low pressure as well as precipitation. We can use an image like this to know where storms may be at a point in the future.

There are many forecast models that cover the globe or smaller regions, and each model is developed with its own formulas in an attempt to be the most accurate.

Models that cover the entire globe

Two of the more well-known/used weather models are the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) a.k.a. the “Euro” model, and the United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) model. Both of these models cover the entire globe.


  • Global Forecasting System
  • Produced by the US Government
  • Covers the entire globe
  • Forecasts out to 384 hours (16 days)
  • Updates 4x per day
  • Model resolution of 13km
  • Average accuracy score lags the ECMWF (but every storm is different)
  • Cost = freely available to anyone


  • European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts
  • Produced by a group of European Governments
  • Covers the entire globe
  • Forecasts out to 240 hours (10 days)
  • Updates 2x per day
  • Model resolution of 9km (more detailed than the GFS)
  • Average accuracy score makes it the best model (but every storm is different)
  • Cost = $250,000 for commercial license to host data. Personal license is available to access data with an individual subscription (see Paid Forecast Model Websites below).

Models that cover a smaller area

Then there are mesoscale (fine-scale) models, which hone in on more specific regions and tend to be able to forecast really small weather features better than the global models, like thunderstorms or snowfall within steep mountains.

The two most popular U.S. mesoscale models are known as the North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM) and the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model.


  • North American Model
  • Produced by the US Government
  • Covers the United States
  • Two versions: Standard and High-Resolution
  • Standard = 12km resolution for North America out to 84 hours (3.5 days)
  • High-Resolution = 3km resolution for the United States out to 60 hours (2.5 days)
  • Cost = freely available to anyone


  • High-Resolution Rapid Refresh
  • Produced by the US Government
  • Covers the United States
  • Forecasts out to 18 hours
  • Updates once every hour
  • Model resolution of 3km
  • Cost = freely available to anyone

Examples model forecasts

Weather models provide gigabytes of forecast data each time that they run. What we often show, and what you often see, are graphics and charts that are created from this underlying data. Here are some examples. 

A 16-day snow forecast for the United States and southern Canada from September 24 – October 10, 2019, from the American GFS model.

A 16-day precipitation forecast for the United States and southern Canada from September 24 – October 10, 2019, from the American GFS model.

A 16-day forecast for the weather pattern at about 18,000 feet. Blue colors help to identify storm systems. This is for the United States and southern Canada from September 24 – October 10, 2019, from the American GFS model.

Why do different models provide different forecasts?

First, forecast models differ in how they collect the current weather conditions across the globe. Even with a sophisticated measurement network including satellites, radars, weather balloons, ground-based weather stations, planes and ships, forecast models must make assumptions to fill in the gaps between actual weather observations, in places like oceans, large forests, deserts, etc.

Second, forecast models differ in the math and physics equations that they use to move from the current condition of the atmosphere and turn that into a weather prediction. Small changes in these equations can lead to rather substantial differences in forecasts.

And third, forecast models have different levels of detail (resolution) and can struggle to properly account for steep terrain like the mountains where we ski and ride. This is where a local forecaster can help because they can adjust the model forecasts based on their experience of seeing when the model does a good job versus times when the model is less accurate.

All of these factors play a roll in creating different forecast outcomes even though the models are starting with mostly the same information about the current state of the atmosphere.

Which forecast model is the most accurate?

Below is a chart showing the accuracy scores for 5-day forecasts for the northern hemisphere from several of the commonly used forecast models over the past 23 years.

The ranking from most skillful to least skillful is based on the one-year average accuracy of five-day forecasts. A higher number means that the model is more accurate. All four of these models cover the globe. While any model can more accurately predict a single storm, the European model has been and continues to be the most accurate.

  1. European Model (ECM = 0.920)
  2. British Model (UKM = 0.902)
  3. American Model (GFS = 0.888)
  4. Canadian Model (CMC = 0.883)
model scores

What are ensemble forecast models?

Forecast models provide imperfect predictions because we do not know the current weather for every place on earth and because we do not know the perfect math and physics equations to use in these models.

To account for both of these shortcomings, models are run many times with slightly different current weather conditions and equations. This produces a range, or ensemble, of many forecasts rather than a single forecast.

If the range of forecasts is small, we have greater confidence in the prediction. If, however, the range of forecasts is large, then the confidence in the forecast is much lower.

For example, the GFS ensemble forecast model is made up of 21 versions, each of which uses slightly different current conditions. And the ECMWF (European) ensemble forecast model has 51 versions. All of these model runs can be averaged together (a “mean” model) which can provide a more accurate forecast. 


Weather forecast models are a guide to the future, but forecast models are only one part of a weather forecasters toolkit. To create a prediction, forecasters use a combination of models, experience in understanding the model’s biases, and knowledge of the fundamentals of meteorology.

Each model has its own pros and cons. Most forecasters will look at several models and will take into account their own experience with the models as it pertains to their region when making a forecast. They should also tell you their uncertainty when the models disagree.

The forecasts made by the models are usually most accurate within 1-5 days, and then they lose accuracy the further out in time they go. This is because of the chaotic nature of weather, in which very small uncertainties in the current state of the atmosphere have a “butterfly effect” on the future.

Weather models have become more accurate over the last few decades, but are still far from perfect. As computer technology and scientific knowledge improve, the models will become more sophisticated continuing to lead towards more accurate forecasts.

Want to create your own forecast?

There are now many websites that allow you to look at the output from weather forecast models. Below are a few of the sites that we use. The free sites tend to have fewer details and options for viewing the models as compared to the paid sites.

Free Forecast Model Websites

NOAA – National Weather Service