ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
87°
Partly Cloudy
H 86° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 86° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    77°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 86° L 76°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 89° L 77°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National
Snowmelt fills rivers in US Southwest, easing drought fears
Close

Snowmelt fills rivers in US Southwest, easing drought fears

Snowmelt fills rivers in US Southwest, easing drought fears
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
This Monday, June 10, 2019, photo shows the Big Cottonwood Creek, in the Big Cottonwood canyon, near Salt Lake City. The summer's melting snowpack is creating raging rivers that are running high, fast and icy cold. The state's snowpack this winter was about 150 percent higher than the historical average and double the previous year, which was the driest on record dating back to 1874, said Brian McInerney, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. Large parts of the Salt Lake City metro area sits near the foothills of the towering Wasatch Range. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Snowmelt fills rivers in US Southwest, easing drought fears

A welcome surge of melting snow is pouring out of the Rocky Mountains and into the drought-stricken rivers of the southwestern U.S., fending off a water shortage but threatening to push rivers over their banks.

Last winter brought above-average snowfall to much of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, so an abundance of snowmelt is rushing into the Colorado River, the Rio Grande and other waterways after a desperately dry 2018.

"It couldn't have come at a better time," said Greg Smith, a hydrologist with Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There's this big sense of relief this year that we've kind of rebounded."

Colorado was blanketed by 134% of its normal snowfall last winter. Utah was even better, at 138%. Wyoming peaked at 116%.

That will put so much water into the Colorado River that Lake Powell, a giant reservoir downstream in Utah and Arizona, is expected to rise 50 feet (15 meters) this year, said Marlon Duke, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Powell and dozens of other reservoirs.

The reservoir is rising so fast — 6 to 15 inches (15 to 38 centimeters) a day — that the National Park Service warned people to keep cars and boats at least 200 yards (183 meters) from the shoreline to keep them from being submerged overnight.

The influx into Powell will allow the Bureau of Reclamation to send enough water downstream into Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada to avoid a possible water shortage there. Arizona, California and Nevada rely heavily on the reservoir.

Last year, the bureau predicted a better than 50% chance that Mead would fall so low that Arizona — which has the lowest-priority rights to the reservoir — would have to take a cut in its share in 2020. The shortage now might be put off until after 2021, Duke said.

The Colorado River is expected to send more than 12 million acre-feet into Powell this year, 112% of average and a huge improvement over last year, when scant snow in the Rocky Mountains produced only 4.6 million acre-feet for the reservoir. An acre-foot, or 1,200 cubic meters, is enough to supply a typical U.S. family for a year.

The bureau expects to release 9 million acre-feet from Powell to Mead for the fifth consecutive year.

The news is also good for the Rio Grande, which flows from Colorado through New Mexico and then along the Texas-Mexico border to the Gulf of Mexico.

Elephant Butte, a massive reservoir on the Rio Grande in New Mexico, had dropped as low as 10% of capacity, but it could reach 30% this year, said Carolyn Donnelly, a water operations supervisor for the Bureau of Reclamation.

"Given last year, which was really one of the lowest years on record, it's been a complete turnaround," she said.

Besides replenishing reservoirs — a boon to cities and farms that depend on them — the surging rivers mean good rafting conditions, but some sections are so wild that guides are avoiding them.

Last week, a rafting accident killed a 29-year-old man on Colorado's Eagle River, and a 5-year-old boy had to be rescued from a river in a Salt Lake City suburb.

A popular hike along a riverbed in Utah's Zion National Park has been closed since April 1 because of high water. It could be two weeks before water levels fall enough to make the trail safe, park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said.

Colorado authorities spent weeks clearing debris that threatened to clog streams around the small town of Lake City in the southwestern part of the state. Winter avalanches left behind dead trees and rubble that could have backed up the streams and then given way, sending a wall of water into the town, said Micki Trost of the state's emergency management division.

The National Weather Service issued alerts about potential flooding in several states but only a few local problems have been reported. Still, the risk could last for days because so much snow remains in the mountains after a cold May delayed the melt.

Enough snow is left that the Snowbird ski resort in Utah and Arapahoe Basin and Aspen in Colorado are still open, at least on weekends.

Weather and climate experts say it's too early to declare the Southwest's two-decade-long drought over because wet years sometimes provide temporary relief from prolonged dry spells.

Becky Bolinger, Colorado's assistant state climatologist, said that even if the drought is ending, another will follow.

"Our region is vulnerable to drought and vulnerable to increasing frequency of drought," she said.

___

Associated Press writer Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

___

Follow Dan Elliott at http://twitter.com/DanElliottAP.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • A two month, multi-agency investigation has ended with the arrests of two suspects involved in a Romanian skimming ring that affected nearly 400 residents across Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.   Specifically, more than 80 Putnam County residents were affected with more than 300 others in areas like Jacksonville, Keystone Heights, Newberry, and into Southeast Georgia. The Putnam County Sheriff's Office plans to release further details on Monday, June 17th, but WOKV has learned the identities of the two suspects arrested.  Arrest reports from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office identify the two as 35-year-old Elena Matei and 18-year-old Plopsor Matei.  Both are facing a variety of charges, from using or possessing a skimming device to bank fraud.  While the arrest reports are heavily redacted, it does show Capital City Bank told investigators they’ve had to reimburse their customers about $46, 360 due to cards being compromised due to skimmers. The reports also show that SunTrust Bank told investigators it is at a loss of $6,230. The Putnam County Sheriff's Office says in addition to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the US Secret Service, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the North Florida Financial Crimes Task Force also helped with the investigation.
  • A 16-year-old Indiana boy died Wednesday when he and his father were robbed during an arranged meetup with someone they’d met through an online sales app, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news Gary police and the Lake County Coroner’s Office told the Chicago Sun-Times that Johnny Peluyera, of Merrillville, Indiana, and his father had arranged to sell an Xbox. After arriving at the meetup location, they were robbed by two men, the newspaper reported. Authorities responded around 6 p.m. Wednesday to reports of the shooting, which took place near the intersection of 51st Avenue and Maryland Street, according to the Post-Tribune. In a statement obtained by the northwest Indiana newspaper, Gary police Cmdr. Jack Hamady said Johnny was reportedly sitting in the front passenger side of his father’s vehicle when he was shot in the back. The robbers fled the area and remained at-large Friday. “I just completely don’t understand,” Johnny’s mother, Kelly Arroyo, told WGN-TV. “I don’t understand how somebody – over an Xbox – can take somebody’s life.” Arroyo described her son to WGN-TV as a “wonderful kid who loved video games and cars.” She said he had recently gotten his driver’s license. Johnny is survived by his parents and a sister, according to WGN-TV. Gary police told the Post-Tribune that online buyers and sellers should only agree to meet in public places, such in a police station parking lot. Authorities continue to investigate.
  • A day after the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced an arrest in the murder of a Westside grandmother, the suspect's arrest report is revealing new disturbing details. According to 24-year-old Darnell Johnson's arrest report, a family member cited concerns about his behavior around the same time as Shirley Blakely’s death.  The report says the individual had called police about Johnson and was attempting to have him 'Baker Acted', but Johnson left before that could happen. She told police that he had been pacing the floor, talking about the neighbor putting 'Voodoo' on him, just prior to him leaving.  The individual told police she then went driving around looking for Johnson. The report says he was eventually found behind Blakely’s residence.  Johnson has denied any involvement in Blakely's death, according to the report. WOKV told you last week that Blakely’s family said the man responsible for her murder believed he had been ‘cursed.’
  • Four times more people in twice as many states have been infected with salmonella in less than a month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reported this week. The CDC has linked the infections to contact with backyard poultry, namely chickens and ducklings. >> Read more trending news On May 16, 52 people in 21 states had been infected, the CDC announced. On Thursday, the CDC said 227 more people in 20 additional states have been added to its investigation. Four salmonella serotypes have also been added. Of the 279 now infected, 40 have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. Seventy cases affect children younger than 5, the CDC said. >> Salmonella outbreak in 21 states linked to backyard poultry; don’t kiss the chickens, CDC warns So far, infections have been found in all states except Georgia, Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and North Dakota. In interviews, people said they got their chicks and ducklings from agricultural stores, websites and hatcheries. This is not the first time a salmonella outbreak has been linked to our feathered friends. In July 2018, the CDC discovered 212 salmonella cases in 44 states linked to backyard poultry. >> Stop kissing, snuggling pet hedgehogs, CDC warns There are many ways people can be infected by fowl.  Poultry might have salmonella germs in their droppings, and on their feathers, feet and beaks, even when they appear healthy and clean, the CDC states on its website. The germs can get on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, hay, plants and soil. Germs also can get on the hands, shoes and clothes of people who handle or care for poultry. >> CDC warns consumers not to wash raw chicken Infection can be prevented, however. The CDC recommends the following safety tips: Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand-washing by young children. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.  Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored.  Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.  Children younger than 5, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry.  Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.  Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.  Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers. For a complete list of recommendations, visit the CDC’s website.
  • President Donald Trump said Friday that he has no plans to fire White House counselor Kellyanne Conway despite a recommendation from a federal watchdog agency. >> Read more trending news “I’m not going to fire her,” the president said Friday in an interview “Fox and Friends” on Fox News. “I think she’s a terrific person. She’s a tremendous spokesperson. She’s been loyal. ... Based on what I saw yesterday, how could you do that?” In a letter sent Thursday to Trump, officials with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel detailed several instances in which Conway attacked Trump’s Democratic rivals in the 2020 presidential race on social media and in official interviews, which is a violation of the Hatch Act. The law bars federal officials from using their offices to campaign for political candidates. >> Federal watchdog recommends Kellyanne Conway be fired for Hatch Act violations “It looks to me like they’re trying to take away her right of free speech and that’s just not fair,” Trump said Friday. “It doesn’t sound fair so I’m going to look at it very carefully.” The president framed Conway’s violations of the Hatch Act as necessary in response to criticism of him or in response to questions from the media. “You ask a person a question and every time you’re supposed to say, ‘I can’t answer, I can’t answer,’” Trump said. “I mean, she’s got to have a right of responding to questions.” The White House counsel issued a letter Thursday calling for the Office of Special Counsel to rescind the recommendation, though the agency declined, according to The Washington Post. Special counsel Henry Kerner told the newspaper his recommendation was “unprecedented,” but he added that Conway’s conduct was as well. “In interview after interview, she uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed,” he told the Post. “What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you can break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?” Kerner told Fox News the decision on whether to fire Conway ultimately falls to the president. “We respect his decision and, of course, the president has any option he’d like — to reprimand or not to reprimand,” Kerner said, according to the news network. “I am a Trump appointee — I have no animus toward Kellyanne whatsoever. ... My job is to make sure the federal workforce stays as depoliticized and as fair as possible.” >> Conway accused of Hatch Act violation; what is the Hatch Act? In its 17-page report, the Office of Special Counsel noted that Conway minimized the significance of the Hatch Act during a May 29 interview. “If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work,' she said, according to The Hill. Later, she added, 'Let me know when the jail sentence starts.

The Latest News Videos