San Juan weather/climate conversation with Joe Ramey ~ former NWS forecaster and now headmaster at Mountain Weather Masters

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Hello MWM,

June is typically hot and dry, 2017 has been particularly so. After some measurable rain in the first week of June it has been dry. Convection the last few days have been high based producing mostly outflow winds and little rain. High based thunderstorms are expected with the Friday cool front.

Climate sites in the region are showing June 2017 temperatures well above normal, 4 to 7 degrees above which is a lot. Their precipitation totals are way behind normal on this the average driest month of the year.

No hints of the monsoon yet but conditions are developing as they should. As I have mentioned before, I believe it takes a near complete melting of the snowpack and a hot period to create regional thermal low pressure to suck in the subtropical moisture from the south. Snowpack in the San Juan, Rio Grande, and Gunnison river basins have basically melted out, while the central and northern mountains still have above normal snowpack. So we don’t know when yet but the monsoon moisture is on track to reach at least southern Colorado sometime in July.

In the latest outlook from the CPC, you can see they expect the heat to continue. There is also a dry signal for central-northern Colorado which may be due to the lingering snowpack.

Conditions in the Pacific are not changing much. The Nino 3.4 region along the equator is a bit warmer than normal. The weak forecast for a developing El Nino late this summer has changed. Now the best chances are for ENSO Neutral conditions into the fall season. ENSO Neutral are wild card seasons because there is no forecast tendency. If El Nino does develop later this year, the best forecast for now is for a weak event. Further north in the Pacific, the northern basin remains warmer than normal but well below 2014-2015-2016.

From those climate signals as well as climate change signals, you can see the CPC shows a strong warm signal for the next 12 months. The long-range precipitation outlook shows lots of EC (Equal Chances) or low forecast skill. There does seem to be a signal for a good monsoon season through the rest of the warm season. There is also a dry signal for the northern Rockies next winter, perhaps a remnant of the El Nino forecast. There is also a dry signal for the Desert SW into the Four Corners next spring.

Stay cool out there.
Practice lightning safety.

Best,
Joe Ramey

Patagonia’s CEO Is Ready To Lead The Corporate Resistance To Donald Trump

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NEW YORK ― On a cloudy May morning, Rose Marcario, the chief executive of outdoor retailer Patagonia, stared out a second-story window of a Manhattan restaurant, watching construction workers jackhammer the street below. The workers made her think of her grandfather, an Italian immigrant who, after making it through Ellis Island in the 1920s, got his first job digging the streets of this city. He earned 10 cents a day and had to bring his own shovel. People regularly spat at him and sneered at his broken English.

 

“He’d tell me, ‘I didn’t mind that, because I knew that someday in the future, you were going to have a better life,’” she recalled.

 

His sacrifice has been weighing on Marcario lately. She isn’t a parent herself, but she thinks of her young cousins, nieces and nephews. She wants them to inherit a planet with a stable climate and normal sea levels ― a country that still has some pristine wilderness left. Her job ― running a privately held company with roughly $800 million in annual revenue and stores in 16 states plus D.C. ― provides her a much bigger platform to influence their lives than anyone in her family had two generations ago.

It’s also why she’s decided to take on the president of the United States to stop him from rolling back decades of public land protections.

 

“We have to fight like hell to keep every inch of public land,” Marcario, 52, told HuffPost last month. “I don’t have a lot of faith in politics and politicians right now.”

Ventura, California-based Patagonia has taken on a number of national conservation efforts since environmentalist and rock climber Yvon Chouinard founded it in 1973. In 1988, the firm launched a campaign to restore the natural splendor of Yosemite Valley, which was being destroyed by cars and lodges. The company took on a more consumer-centric approach, launching an ad campaign in 2011 urging customers not to buy its jackets in an attempt to address rampant waste in the fashion industry.

 

The company was relatively quiet for the first two years after Marcario took the top spot in 2014. But she grew dismayed as environmental and climate issues took a backseat in the 2016 election, despite the stark difference between the two top candidates’ views. She worried the vicious mudslinging of the election would turn off voters.

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Keep America Wild

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Cheryl Molnar, “Headquarters” (2015), Mixed Media on Wood Panel, 30×40 inches, Courtesy of the artist

In 1846, when he was 29, Henry David Thoreau tried to climb to the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Living in Massachusetts, where the virgin forest was long since cut down, Thoreau had never seen true wilderness, and the sheer power of the wild Maine woods sent him into an ecstasy of spiritual overload.

“This was that Earth of which we have heard, made out of Chaos and Old Night,” he proclaimed, rejoicing in the “rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! the solid earth! the actual world! the common sense! Contact! Contact!

Lost in fog at Katahdin’s upper altitudes and defeated by the rugged mountain, Thoreau never did reach the summit. But his words have lived on in the deepest parts of the American mind, shaping this country’s conscience toward nature. Last year, President Obama designated 87,563 acres of the land that so moved Thoreau as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument — a win for the solid earth, the actual world.

In a few weeks, Thoreau will turn 200, giving the nation a cause for celebrating. But just in time for the bicentennial, the Trump administration is considering stripping Katahdin Woods and Waters of its new designation.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited Katahdin this week as part of a systematic review of more than two dozen national monuments being considered for delisting. He’s acting under the executive order of President Trump, who has called the creation of the monuments “abuses.” The president has set his developer’s eye on public property, promising to “free it up” and threatening that “tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land.”

Other targets for possible delisting include Basin and Range in Nevada, Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Craters of the Moon in Idaho and Giant Sequoia in California. A few of those locations might arguably have some economic potential beyond their incalculable worth as tourist destinations. The oil and gas industries have begun circling around the culturally significant Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, for example, with hopes of fracking it. Many of the monuments also serve as battlefields in the longstanding ideological war between federal power and states’ rights.

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As Female Elk Age, They Learn to Evade Hunters

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A young female elk. Unlike their male counterparts, female elk older than 10 years seem nearly invulnerable to hunters. Credit: Mark Boyce

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If you come across an old elk in southwestern Canada, chances are it is female.

Though male elk, or bulls, rarely make it past 5 years old because they are targeted by hunters, female elk, or cows, can live as long as 20 years. Remarkably, cows over age 10 seem nearly invulnerable to hunters.

A team of scientists wanted to know: What makes senior cows so survival-savvy? Is it because these elk are more cautious by nature, which made them better at evading hunters all along? Or is it nurture, and cows can learn to dodge hunters over their lifetime, even if they start out more daring?

It seems both factors are at play, the researchers at the University of Alberta reported in PLOS One on Wednesday. Tracking dozens of female elk over several years, the authors found that, over all, careful cows were better at surviving. But they also found that individual cows were able to adjust their behavior and adopt more stealth strategies as they aged. In particular, as females got older, they moved shorter distances and sought safer ground if they faced a higher risk of encountering hunters.

During a postdoctoral stint in Alberta, Henrik Thurfjell, now a research specialist at the Swedish Species Information Center, led an effort to track 49 cows, monitoring each for two to five years with GPS collars that logged the animals’ locations every two hours.

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Interior secretary recommends Trump consider scaling back Bears Ears National Monument ~ Surprised?

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In the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, early morning light begins to illuminate Cave Canyon where there are ruins thought to be 700 years old. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended President Trump “revise the existing boundaries” of the Bears Ears National Historic Monument and call on Congress to dictate the terms of how parts of the area should be managed.

Native American and environmental groups immediately threatened to sue should Trump follow the recommendation.

In an interim report Zinke gave to the White House on Saturday, he proposed Trump ask Congress to give tribal officials authority to co-manage “designated cultural resources” in the area and “make more appropriate conservation designations” within an area that President Barack Obama formally protected in southeastern Utah late last year.

But Zinke suggested holding off on any final decision until a full review of 27 national monuments designated by Trump’s predecessors is completed. Trump signed an executive order in April ordering Zinke to conduct the 120-day review, and he instructed the secretary to first report back on Bears Ears, a 1.35-million-acre site Obama designated in December under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

A coalition of tribes, environmentalists, outdoor recreation businesses and academics had pressed for the designation because some of the area’s more than 100,000 archaeological sites have been damaged in recent years by vandalism, off-road vehicle use and looting. Gov. Gary R. Herbert and Utah’s congressional delegation, all Republicans, argued that lawmakers should determine the boundaries of any monument rather than the White House.

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Eagles Adopt Baby Red-Tailed Hawk, Putting Aside Violent Species Rivalry

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An eagle family has adopted a baby red-tailed hawk in British Columbia, but scientists are not sure how much longer these natural enemies can live in harmony.

Lynda Robson/Hancock Wildlife Foundation

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Bald eagles and red-tailed hawks are not typically friends — in fact, they have been known to fight each other to the death.

That’s why Canadian bird watchers were so surprised when they spotted a pair of bald eagles sharing a nest with and caring for a baby red-tailed hawk, in addition to their own three eaglets.

The unexpected interspecies family is living in a Douglas fir at the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary in British Columbia, as the Vancouver Sun reported.

And bird experts are putting forward two main theories about how a red-tailed hawk chick, a species that is a fraction of the size of an eagle, ended up in the nest.

Both theories reflect a degree of aggression more typical of hawk-eagle relations. And the two options essentially boil down to a timeless question — which came to the nest first: the chicken (ahem, hawk) or the egg?

First, raptor scientist David Bird proposes to the Sun that one of the eagles may have raided a hawk nest, grabbed the young hawk and carried it back home.

Then, “my guess is that this little guy begged loud and hard for food — not even thinking about the danger,” Bird told the Sun. “Food overrides everything in these birds. He begged away, and Mom and Dad said, ‘OK, here’s an open, gaping beak. Let’s put food in it.’ ”

A second theory, proposed in a blog post by David Hancock of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, suggests that the egg actually hatched in the nest.

It’s common for red-tailed hawks to divebomb bald eagle nests, he says. “If the attacking red-tail, egg in oviduct, did get carried back to the nearby eagle nest, it is not unlikely that either in the death throws or upon being torn apart (less likely in my experience!) the egg got deposited into the eagle nest.”

Then, the eagles inadvertently started incubating the egg and eventually reared it along with their own eaglets.

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IN THE WITHDRAWAL FROM THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT, THE KOCH BROTHERS’ CAMPAIGN BECOMES OVERT

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The Koch Brothers used to fly far below the radar. Now their astounding influence-buying and efforts to keep the U.S. from embracing climate-change legislation have become more obvious. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE KLAMAR / AFP / GETTY

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If there was any lingering doubt that a tiny clique of fossil-fuel barons has captured America’s energy and environmental policies, it was dispelled last week, when the Trump Administration withdrew from the Paris climate accordSurveys showed that a majority of Americans in literally every state wanted to remain within the agreement, and news reports established that the heads of many of the country’s most successful and iconic Fortune 100 companies, from Disney to General Electric, did, too. Voters and big business were arrayed against leaving the climate agreement. Yet despite the majority’s sentiment, a tiny—and until recently, almost faceless—minority somehow prevailed.

How this happened is no longer a secret. The answer, as the New York Timesreported, on Sunday, is “a story of big political money.” It is, perhaps, the most astounding example of influence-buying in modern American political history.

As the climate scientist Michael Mann put it to me in my book “Dark Money,” when attempting to explain why the Republican Party has moved in the opposite direction from virtually the rest of the world, “We are talking about a direct challenge to the most powerful industry that has ever existed on the face of the Earth. There’s no depth to which they’re unwilling to sink to challenge anything threatening their interests.” For most of the world’s population, the costs of inaction on climate change far outweigh that of action. But for the fossil-fuel industry, he said, “It’s like the switch from whale oil in the nineteenth century. They’re fighting to maintain the status quo, no matter how dumb.”

Until recently, those buying the fealty of the Republican Party on these issues tried to hide their sway, manipulating politics from the wings. But what became clear this past weekend is that they can remain anonymous no longer. With their success dictating America’s climate policy, the fossil-fuel industry’s political heavyweights have also won new notoriety. Charles and David Koch, the billionaire owners of the Kansas-based fossil-fuel leviathan Koch Industries, used to attract attention only from environmental groups such as Greenpeace, which labelled them “the Kingpins of Climate Denial.” They were so secretive about their political activities that, when I first wrote about their tactics in The New Yorker, in 2010, the article was titled “Covert Operations.” But now references to the Kochs are becoming almost as commonplace as the Dixie Cups, Lycra, and other household products that their business produces. As the Times noted, Republican lawmakers’ swerves to the right on climate issues “did not happen by themselves. Republican lawmakers were moved along by a campaign carefully crafted by fossil-fuel industry players, most notably Charles D. and David H. Koch, the Kansas-based billionaires who run a chain of refineries. . . .” The Kochs were called out on the Sunday talk shows this past weekend, too. On ABC’s “This Week,” former Vice-President Al Gore cited “dark money” from fossil-fuel companies as the explanation for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord; on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former Secretary of State John Kerry specifically chastised the Kochs.

Now that they have been flushed from the shadows, the Kochs and their political operatives have proudly taken credit for obstructing the U.S. government from addressing climate change. Charles Koch, who is a hardcore libertarian, has argued that government action was only “making people’s lives worse, rather than better,” as he put it in an interview with Fortune last year. Meanwhile, Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, the Kochs’ main political-advocacy organization, has boasted about the group’s success in killing the careers of politicians who broke with the brothers’ anti-climate-change agenda. Phillips recounted to the Times that, after 2010, when the group spent tens of millions of dollars in campaigns aimed at defeating congressmen who wanted to take action on climate change, no Republican candidate has dared cross the Kochs on the issue again. “After that,” he said, support for renewable energy “disappeared from Republican ads. Part of that was the polling, and part of that was the visceral example of what happened to their colleagues who had done that. . . . It told the Republicans that we were serious, that we would spend some serious money against them.”

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