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Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Water

rain gaugeJune 2009 was the second wettest on record in Denver.  In addition, the average temperature of 64.4 degrees (F) was 3.2 degrees below normal.  Needless to say, we didn’t run our sprinklers this June.

Of course, during the course of a typical June, we do run the sprinklers. I follow Denver Water’s rules, and use my own rain gauge (pictured) to adjust watering times whenever possible. I use a lot of mulch to keep evaporation down. I plant drought-tolerant specimens. But with this much land, I am still aware of how much water I’m using.

So in spite of the great moisture we’ve been having, I started to research rainwater harvesting.

Imagine my surprise to find that in Colorado, it has been illegal to use a rain barrel to collect roof run-off.  The reason behind this is, apparently, that if I collect the water from my roof, the folks downstream can’t use it. Drat.

Then I read that Colorado Senate Bill  09-080 allowed rainwater collecting beginning July 1. Hooray?

But as I began to actually understand the new law, I was again disappointed. It turns out, I still can’t legally collect water because I can get water from Denver Water (a “domestic water system that serves more than three single-family dwellings,” as stated in the bill).  Oh, and even if I weren’t served by the municipality or other water district, I still wouldn’t be allowed to use the rainwater on my vegetable garden or lawn. Drat!

I confess I’m confused by this. If I collect rain water, then put it on my vegetables later that month, wouldn’t that be the same in the long run as if the rain had fallen on my vegetables? Won’t the water eventually end up in the same place, i.e. the watershed’s water course? Isn’t ensuring that the water goes into the ground in fact better than allowing it to evaporate off of concrete?rain gutter

Here is my proposed rain barrel location. Notice that there is not permeable ground below this gutter, just sidewalk.

Is the water that comes gushing out of this gutter during a good rain making its way to the South Platte, really? I’m going to have to think that it just evaporates the second the sun comes out.

One website claims that “a pivotal study focusing on the Denver area revealed 97 percent of precipitation never makes it to streams,” although the study is not cited.   I’d be interested to see the study, if I could find it!

Not wanting to break the law, I started to wonder about greywater recycling. My washing machine, for example, doesn’t drain directly into the sewer. The drainage hose is routed to a utility sink, where it then goes into the sewer. I can just put a bucket in the sink, then use that water in my garden, assuming of course that I’m using an environmentally friendly detergent and no bleach. But alas, that’s illegal, too!

Now, it is July. We’ve had very little precipitation and it has been in the 90s or close to it. I ran the sprinklers this morning, while letting gallons and gallons of greywater go down the drain.

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Urban Fox sighting

Fox
Sitting in our dining room in late December, I caught a glimpse of something moving outside. We’ve had a couple of good snowstorms here, so the red fur of a fox stood out starkly against the snow-packed streets. I’ve seen foxes in our neighborhood before, but never in broad daylight and never strolling so leisurely as to be photographed.
I’ve found that this could plausibly be the same red fox seen near our previous residence located just over a mile away from the Big Tree. A red fox’s territory in good areas could be as large as 5 square miles, or up to 19 square miles in poorer habitats. I’m guessing that our Park Hill neighborhood is a pretty good habitat, bordered by large parks and known as Denver’s Urban Forest!

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Microbursts

In June, I rode my motorcycle into the driveway and was greeted by a very concerned Philip, who had thought for sure I had been blown away. I had been completely unaware of any wind, somehow I had missed the storm completely. But there was plenty of evidence of the microbursts to be found in the neighborhood. Believe it or not, there’s an SUV under this uprooted tree:

Car under uprooted tree

My parents’ house appeared on a local news video, since a nearby tree’s demise had caused the loss of power for several blocks.

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May Hail Storm

In May, we had been enjoying the spring flowers when suddenly, we were hit by a hail storm.

Many plants were totally shredded, and never recovered during the rest of the summer.

Handful of Hail

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Blizzard of 2006

Shortly after we moved into our new house, Denver was slammed by the first of several major snowstorms that were to bury us in December of 2006. I took a break from the shoveling to snap a few pictures.

Our HouseFront Door

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