Monday, January 11, 2016

El Niño...Maybe

It's almost surprising that the crusty mounds and areas of snow are still in yards and around the neighborhood.  Anyone living in Colorado for more than five years knows that winters are pretty consistent when it comes to the snow/melt cycles.  We generally go from a snow event (mild to blizzard) followed by sunshine and warm enough temperatures to melt most of the snow right away. Even if some of it hangs around it will melt sooner rather than later from another cycle of temperatures in the high 40s to 50s.  Plus we always seem to have a chinook event in January where it's seasonably warm enough to walk around in shorts (not me).

Internet Photo from NOAA

Not being a weather professional, just a regular clicker on or a local news watcher (no comment on their reliability), one of the reasons for our cold temperatures and snow storms may be the predicted El Niño. In a nutshell an El Niño is periodic warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean which results in areas getting too much or too little precipitation and temperature extremes.  Periodic in Colorado is anyone's guess.

Internet Photo from NOAA

On the color detailed El Niño weather maps, parts of the Front Range are smack dab in the middle of the drier-warmer north and wetter-cooler south.  So if we get more snow we can say it's from El Niño and if we are drier this winter into spring we can say it is from El Niño.  Now that's a hedge! 

I've said all this to get to the point of my blog (finally) which is what all this continuous snow and ice cover is doing to our lawns. Is it causing damage or mold?  In three words - not to worry.  The best person to know all the ins and outs is Dr. Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist with Colorado State University. He recently posted a blog on this very topic which I highly recommend reading - Snow Mold in Lawns: Should we be Worried? 
The good news is that even if we get additional snow on top of what hasn't melted, our turf should be fine, provided the snow isn't sitting on matted, wet leaves (I know you raked last fall). 

Snow isn't going away in my yard!

So, the only thing gardeners need to fret about this very moment is how many seed packets to purchase. And better find those shorts, it's going to warm up soon!

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