Best of the West: Most innovative states in the West; Bomb cyclone officially Colorado’s strongest storm ever; beating Utah ski traffic with an app

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting March 25, 2019 that you don't want to miss.

Eight of the country’s top 20 “most innovative” states are located in the West, according to WalletHub. The study compared states across two dimensions: “Human Capital,” including share of STEM professionals, and “Innovation Environment,” such as share of technology companies.

Washington, Colorado, California, Utah, Oregon, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico were recognized for their continued innovation growth through investments in education, research, and business creation, especially in specialized industries.

Washington was ranked the second most innovative state overall by WalletHub, in part because of the fast-growing (3.69% annual growth rate) number of computer and math-related jobs in the state. In California (6th on WalletHub’s list), more than one in five workers in the metro area are employed in science, math, engineering, and tech, according to analysis by 24/7 Wall St. Utah, ranked 8th by WalletHub, is hosting its second annual Technology Innovation Summit to showcase early-stage science-based companies and highlight innovation trends.

WIPP’s 20th Anniversary: The Waste Isolation Power Plant in New Mexico, developed to safely store radioactive waste deep underground, is now 20 years old and has accepted more than 12,380 shipments. Working with the Department of Energy, states, and partners (including WGA), the facility is a repository for tons of hazardous chemicals. Learn about its history.  

Record Storm in the Centennial State: The recent bomb cyclone that rocked several western states is officially Colorado’s strongest storm on record. Lowest-ever pressures were measured across the state, and an 80-mph gust recorded at Denver International Airport made it the strongest non-thunderstorm wind gust recorded there. 

Oroville Update: The Oroville Dam in California, which experienced major damage in 2017 that prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people, may soon be used for the first time since the emergency. After $1.1 billion in repairs, dam operators are preparing to open spillway gates to manage water levels in Lake Oroville.

There’s an App for That: Across the West, ski resorts are attracting bigger crowds (and more cars, as a result). Learn how an app developed in Utah is helping to ease the congestion, and which western states have signed on to use the technology next season.

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