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Mancos weather station offers data for farmers

Mesa Verde National Park looms over the Mancos CoAgMet station, one of five in Montezuma County.

At a Mancos Conservation District meeting Saturday, Colorado State University Climate Scientist Zach Schwalbe discussed what one meeting attendee called the “best kept secret in Mancos.”

Schwalbe discussed the Colorado Agricultural Meteorological Network, or CoAgMet, a system of weather stations placed across Colorado. There are 75 stations in the state, including five in Montezuma County, Schwalbe said.

“There’s so much ag here,” he said. “I’m amazed at how much goes on down here.”

CoAgMet is a program of CSU’s Colorado Climate Center.

The stations collect weather data including temperature, humidity, solar radiation, rainfall, soil temperatures, and wind speed and direction.

The Mancos station has been in place since 2010. Other Montezuma County locations are in Mancos, Yellow Jacket, Yucca House National Monument, Ute Mountain Farm and Ranch and south of Cortez near the intersection of County Road A and U.S. Highway 491.

Another station is in Dove Creek. The group plans to install three more stations in La Plata County within the next few months and seven others in the state, bringing the total to 85 stations, Schwalbe said.

The CoAgMet website offers detailed data sets that are recorded weekly, hourly and every five minutes in some cases. Information is geared toward helping out people in agriculture, especially irrigation farmers, Schwalbe said. Another goal is to measure evapotranspiration, which refers to the combination of evaporation and water movement through plants, Schwalbe said.

Some of the stations are very remote, so getting to them if something needs repaired can be difficult, Schwalbe said. The group tries to do its best with limited funding, he said.

“It’s a huge benefit,” Schwalbe said of the Mancos station. “We’ve discovered so much about this area of Montezuma County.”

For more information, visit the CoAgMet website or email Schwalbe at Zach.Schwalbe@colostate.edu.