Parched landscapes beg for water relief
Unseasonably warm, dry and sunny weather has taken root in Denver and along the Front Range, where lawns are looking parched and some residents are itching to water.
The high temperature in Denver on Saturday is expected to hit 82 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which would match a 1907 record for March 18.
Sunday’s weather in Denver is expected to be the same — dry and climbing into the 80s — and while local temperatures will back off into the 70s next week, the weather will remain relatively warm and dry until mid-week.
The temptation to crank up the automatic lawn sprinkler system is at a fever pitch, but water officials and experts suggest rolling out the hose and watering by hand instead.
“It’s not time to panic and turn on your sprinkler system. Your yard is doing just fine,” said Travis Thompson, a Denver Water spokesman.
Thompson recommends hand watering at this time of year, and giving special attention to shrubs, bushes and trees.
The mountain snowpack water supply, stoked by above-average snow in December and January, remains above average for this time of year, Thompson said.
Current water supply for most Front Range residents isn’t low or critical, despite current drought and drought-like conditions parching lower-lying elevations of eastern Colorado.
Denver Water, which typically sets water restrictions during the summer, does not have any current watering restrictions.
The Colorado State University Extension recommends winter watering during extremely dry stretches — the first day of spring is March 20 — of about 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk diameter once or twice per month and anywhere from 5 to 18 gallons per month for shrubs. Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees and where there’s no snow on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Weather Service has issued a “Fire Weather Watch” for a wideranging area of Colorado along the southern Front Range, including Woodland Park and Colorado Springs, south to Trinidad, east to La Junta and west to Westcliffe. Pueblo and Cañon City are under the fire watch.
In Colorado Springs, mandatory burn restrictions are in place, including no recreational fires, no smoking in city parks and open space, and no prescribed burns.
In Greeley on Friday, a planned ditch burn got out of control and firefighters were called to extinguish the blaze. The fire, which sparked at about 11:30 a.m. in the 400 block of North 35th Ave., burned about 3 acres.
Greeley, which is “under severe drought conditions,” according to the city’s fire marshal, has also posted fire restrictions. Open burns without a permit, or violations of burn permit conditions, may result in tickets, fines and court appearances.