1:30 PM | Update on the Colorado wildfire situation

Discussion

There is a slight improvement today across Colorado in the overall weather situation with slightly calmer winds and lower temperatures compared to recent days. Multiple wildfires, however, continue to rage and probably will not get fully contained for many weeks to come. One such blaze, called the “Waldo Canyon Fire”, continues to capture attention as it is close to such landmarks as Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy, and to the city of Colorado Springs which is the state’s second largest. Flames came very close to the Air Force Academy’s main campus and some of the residents had to be evacuated. The Flying W Ranch, a popular tourist attraction in Colorado Springs, burned to the ground earlier this week. The “High Park Fire” began weeks ago just to the west of Fort Collins is now getting somewhat under control (~65%) thanks in part to some spotty rain that fell in the area on Wednesday. However, that particular fire has already become the most destructive in state history with more than 87,000 acres burned in recent weeks. Meanwhile, a third fire called “Flagstaff Fire” broke out near Boulder in the past few days, but some localized rainfall helped to at least temporarily slow down its possible expansion. The Boulder fire happens to be very close to one of the largest complexes in the country to house meteorologists, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

How hot has it been? Denver tied its all-time high temperature record a few days ago at 105 degrees in the midst of a record-tying 5 consecutive days of triple digit heat. Colorado Springs also set an all-time record high of 101 degrees in the midst of 5 straight days with record-tying or record-breaking heat. Finally, in addition to the current combination of heat and humidity, one of the most important reasons that we are experiencing a very active wildfire season in Colorado is the fact that there was the lack of any deep snowpack during last winter.