January 06, 2022

The Colorado Wildfire and Global Warming: Is there a Connection?

Last Thursday, December 30th, powerful downslope winds resulted in a massive grass fire that rapidly moved into neighborhoods around Superior, Colorado--a town between Denver and Boulder.

Driven by winds exceeding 100 mph that rushed down the eastern slopes of the Colorado Front Range, a fire initiated by humans moved rapidly towards populated areas, with roughly 1000 homes lost, a number of businesses destroyed or damaged, and two people unaccounted for.

Large areas of dry grass surrounded the burning homes and businesses of Superior, CO and nearby Louisville.

Within hours of the event, several media outlets including the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, National Public Radio, NBC News, and Axios (to name only a few), were making broad claims that the fires were the result of global warming (or "climate change" in the modern vernacular) or that global warming played a major role.

Politicians, such as the Governor of Colorado, blamed climate change, as did a contingent of climate activists.


The truth is different and very clear.  

This event had little to do with climate change.  And it is easy to show this.

In this blog, we shall examine why this terrible tragedy occurred and what steps must be taken to prevent it from happening again.  

We will consider the necessary ingredients of this fire, one by one, and ask whether climate change could have contributed.

The Ignition Source:  No Climate Change Connection.

The fire was human-caused, with no natural ignition origin (there was no lightning).
Currently, the point of origin appears to be within the camp of a fundamentalist religious group, but investigations are ongoing.

Climate change had nothing to do with the ignition.

Huge increases in human population over the region during the past 50-years obviously made accidental ignition of a fire more probable.

The Potential Ignition Location

The  Strong Winds:  No Climate Change Connection

A key aspect of this event was the strong winds, which accelerated down the eastern slopes of the Front Range of the Rockies.

Such winds are connected with high amplitude mountain waves that can be produced under the right meteorological conditions, including strong flow from the west to northwest approaching the Rockies and a stable layer near or just above crest level.  Such conditions occurred on December 30th and the strong downslope winds were forecast by high-resolution numerical prediction models (e.g., the NOAA/NWS HRRR model).


There is no reason to expect this downslope windstorm was the result of global warming, enhanced by global warming, or made more frequent by global warming.  

In fact, the opposite is possible.

Although the winds reached 100-115 mph in a few locations, some historical front range windstorms have been stronger, such as the events in 1972 (144 mph) and 1982 (140 mph).  

Downslope windstorms are not unusual along the Colorado Front Range and are most frequent during the cool season (November-January) as shown below.  There appears to be a declining trend in the number of strong downslope events, which suggests that global warming does not encourage them.


In fact, some research, examining global climate models forced by increasing greenhouse gases, found that the conditions producing Front Range downslope windstorms will become less frequent and weaker under global warming (e.g., this reference).

The Fuel of the Fire: Dry Grasses.  No Connection With Global Warming.

So if the ignition of the fire and the essential strong winds had nothing to do with global warming, the only possibility left is the fuels, in this case, the extensive grasslands of the region.  But as I will show, it is implausible that global warming played any role in the fast-moving grass fire.

As shown in the picture below (courtesy of google maps), the region just to the west of Superior, CO was characterized by extensive grassland.    These grasses grow and green up in the spring and naturally brown out and dry during the summer.   Such grasses are known as one-hour dead fuels, which means that no matter how moist they are, they can dry enough to burn after ONE-HOUR of drying conditions.

And few environments are more drying than the combination of strong winds and low relative humidities that accompany downslope wind events (the relative humidity was around 23% the morning of the windstorm).


So whether the prior period was warm, wet, moist, or dry, IT DID NOT MATTER.  The windstorm event itself ensured that the grasses were ready to burn.

So the claims by some activists that multi-month autumn drought set up the wildfire event are patently false.
And the claims that global warming helped prepare the grass to burn are patently false.

Furthermore, measurements of 10-h dead fuel moisture (for plants slightly larger than grass) at the nearby USDA RAWS site (Sugarloaf Mountain) showed moisture levels of around 9% for the preceding days, which is near normal for this time of the year (9% for December).  I should note that it had rained on December 25th.

10-h Dead Fuel Moisture % at  theSugarloaf RAWS observing site.

But there is more.  

The grass was particularly bountiful this year not because of drought, but because the region experienced a particularly wet spring and early summer.  To show this, below is the observed cumulative precipitation for the past year at Boulder, Colorado, with the normal values shown as well.

Precipitation was normal to about March 1 but by June 1 precipitation was well ahead of normal...and that bountiful precipitation continued into the summer.  The result was enhanced grass growth.  And there is no reason to expect that global warming is INCREASING precipitation in spring--there is no climate model output to support that.  

You will notice that the year as a whole came in near normal. The snowpack in the mountains above Boulder was above-normal last winter by the way.


The bottom line in all this:  there is no apparent or plausible connection between the dry grass that produced this tragic fire and global warming.   

Lack of snow:  A Global Warming Connection?

 There is another claimed global warming connection with the fires, the lack of snow this year from the dry, warm conditions during this fall.  But that is without support as well.

First, having little or no snow on the ground is not unusual for the Boulder, Colorado area during late December.   In fact, only about one-third of winter days have 1-inch or more of snow on the ground (one reference here), with an average snow depth of around 1.5 inches.  
And wildfires can occur in grasslands with a few inches of snow on the ground.

An interesting question is whether global warming is producing drier/warmer autumns along the Front Range (little evidence for that).   And another is whether there is an alternative explanation for the dry/warm fall this year (there is).

If global warming is important for fall weather along the Front Range, one should find a significant trend over the past decades in autumn precipitation, drought indices, and temperature.  Well, let's take a look at this using the NOAA/NWS Climate Division Data for conditions from September through December for 1950-2020.

For precipitation (below), there is no apparent trend up or down:

And for the Palmer Drought Index, which includes temperature, there is no apparent trend, but with lots of ups and downs.

For temperature,  possesses only a slight (~1F) warming.


So there does not appear to be a long-term global warming signal in this area that is contributing to drought and drying conditions.  Or to a lack of snow

But there IS something that probably contributed to the warm, dry conditions and lack of snow this fall on the Colorado Front Range: La Nina.

We are now in a moderate La Nina year, with the tropical central and eastern Pacific experiencing below-normal sea surface temperatures.   La Nina influences the circulation of the atmosphere over the entire planet and one  La Nina "teleconnection" is dry, warm conditions over eastern Colorado.  

To show this,  I looked at the correlation between tropical sea surface temperatures and temperature/precipitation conditions over the U.S. using the wonderful NOAA ESRL site.

La Nina years are associated with drier than normal autumns over Colorado (orange/red colors)

And warmer than normal temperatures (green/blue colors).


So why blame global warming for the warm/dry conditions, when long-term trends don't suggest a global warming signal and La Nina provides a ready explanation?  Some media folks are not earning their keep!

Major Contributors to the Disaster

Multiple lines of evidence make it clear that global warming had little to do with the catastrophic Marshall fire in Colorado.  Strong/dry downslope winds, bountiful grass for a wet spring, and human ignition explain the fire.

This was a disaster ready to happen and human actions and decisions contributed to the problem.  Let me note a few of them.

Massive Population Increase in the Area

Between 1950 and today there has been explosive population growth in the area, which has not only increased the vulnerable population but increased the potential ignition sources and fuels (e.g, the homes).  The town of Louisville, for example, saw population growth from approximately 2000 to 20,000 during the past 70 years.

Grasslands Next to Dense Population Areas

Ironically, for environmental reasons, vast tracks of "natural" grasslands have been set aside as part of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan, with dense housing development next to wild areas (see map below showing protected Environmental Conservation Areas, with a red star where the homes were lost)


Thus, there are large areas of flammable grass adjacent to heavily populated areas, and worse than that, these grassy areas are generally upwind (west) of the developed areas.    Thus, we have an extremely dangerous situation where the areas of strongest winds, just to the east of the Front Range, are dominated by grassland.  Any ignition will result in fires that rush eastward into the populated regions.   Flammable grassland upwind of large housing developments. It could hardly be worse.

Dense House Development

With so much land put aside for wildland areas, less remains for housing and development.  As a result (and perhaps to enhance profit as well), many of the housing developments near Superior and Louisville, CO had very closely spaced homes (see imagery below).  

 Thus, once one house catches fire, neighboring homes are more likely to go up in flames.  In many wildfire situations, homes provide massive amounts of fuel to help grow and propagate the fire, something documented for the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA, and clearly evident in this case.



Highly Flammable Invasive Grasses

During the past century, highly flammable invasive grasses (e.g., cheatgrass, oat grass) have moved into the region, greatly enhancing wildfire potential.  Limited steps have been taken to deal with the problem. 

Lack of Safe Zones

There has been little effort to create sufficiently wide grass-free safe zones around urbanized areas.

Historical Fires in the Region

Fires are frequent visitors to Boulder County, but most of the recent fires have been in tree-covered terrain, often with a grass understory (see map below).  A few fires have been predominantly grass fires, but have not extended over heavily populated areas.


Summary

Global warming had very little to do with the destructive wildfire that occurred in Colorado on December 30th.   Those pushing a global warming narrative for this event (e.g, some media, politicians, and activists) are misinforming the public.  

But it is worse than that.  Blaming global warming undermines efforts to clearly define the risks and to take coherent, effective actions to reduce the chances of such wildfire disasters happening again.


60 comments:

  1. Thanks for your analysis Professor. An interesting combination of gremlins that contributed to this disaster.

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  2. Is the latest suspected cause right or wrong - that a wire brushing against a tree started it?

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  3. Hey Cliff,

    Agree with 85% of your analysis.

    As a restoration ecologist and having studied fire ecology, there is a definite link between the pervasive (and invasive) spread of Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) in the arid west, increased fires, and climate change. Cheatgrass grows as its name is intended, it cheats out other species. Particularly adapt to dry climates, this grass comes in and outcompetes. It grows fast in the spring and is much hardier than native species. It also creates continuous carpets of fuel. It ignites easily, spreads faster, covers a larger area and occurs more frequently. Managing it is very difficult.

    To be fair I do not know if the fire in Colorado contained Cheatgrass. That is a level of detail only dorks like me geek out on. I do know Cheatgrass is on their Noxious Weed List and is a big concern for many landowners.

    Love your blog Cliff.

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    Replies
    1. Cheatgrass is the worst. The Red Apple fire in Wenatchee last year spread so quickly because those hills were covered in cheatgrass. I suspect the same was the case in the huge Pearl/Cold Creek fire northeast of Wenatchee a couple of years ago.

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    2. In the summer of 2018, here in southeastern Washington, a major range fire burned four or five square miles of cheatgrass covered rangeland south of town before it was controlled, burning several structures to the ground.

      All that cheatgrass is now back in place just as dense as it was before the 2018 fire.

      Looking at the Google Satellite image of the area that was burned in Colorado, there is a large strip of open grassland south and west of the subdivision which is aligned more or less along the direction of the Chinook winds that normally blow through that area.

      A fire starting on that strip of grassland under strong Chinook winds would become a blowtorch flame pointed directly at the subdivision which burned to the ground.

      If the subdivision is rebuilt and no precautions are taken to control grass fires on that strip of land, the new subdivision will eventually be destroyed in another Chinook driven conflagration.

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    3. Thanks. I learned a new word — teleconnection.

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  4. We have found it impossible to locate historical data on our recent weather on the internet. For example, neither my partner or I could find how much snow our town of Bellingham received in the last 24 hours. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. https://www.weather.gov/sew/
      wrh.noaa.gov/mesowest/timeseries.php?sid=KBLI&num=168&banner=gmap&raw=0&w=325

      Delete
    2. https://www.weather.gov/wrh/climate?wfo=sew

      I've found this site useful -- you might give it a try.

      Delete
  5. So, it would be correct to say that 'no particular weather event is ever caused by climate change'- correct?

    If so, is it correct to say that some particular weather events are more likely in a world with a warmer climate?

    Thanks for your perspective.

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  6. We already know the hysterical ranting, screaming and inevitable smear jobs that will be forthcoming now after this kind of analysis. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, it is evergreen.

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  7. Climate Change is their story, and they're sticking to it. LOL

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  8. Thank you for telling the truth based on actual science.

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  9. I have been trying (without much success) to locate a single source of information about Colorado/Rocky Mountain region weather that is comparable in quality and presentation to Dr. Mass' book about PNW weather. Can anyone point me to such a resource?

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  10. Appreciate the deep dive analysis into the cause of this fire.

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  11. I would like to see a discussion of what weather events would be characteristic of climate change.

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    Replies
    1. This topic has been well - researched here numerous times over the years. Look at the archives instead of making requests for information that's already been provided.

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    2. Like so many, you are looking for a smoking gun. There aren't any.

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    3. Artic/Antarctic ice melt is the only thing that comes to mind as being quantifiably linked to a warming climate. Maybe certain glaciers on mountains? Many would argue those events would have happened anyway regardless of Humanity or industrialization. No one really knows.

      Everything else is "weather", not "climate". That and Humanity constantly building in areas that have historically catastrophic weather without even an attempt at mitigation efforts. It is what tends to produce all the horror stories on the news.

      There are plenty of subjective arguments in favor of carbon reduction or in favor of Business as Usual. Business as Usual does not involve any major quality of life impacts on the short term. The USA does not do proactive long term planning, so... *shrug*. Everyone wants to be aware of climate change until they are told they can no longer have hot showers and cold beer.

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    4. Because climate change isn't real John!!

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  12. It seems odd that the Province of Nova Scotia is well aware of the danger from grass burning even with partial snow cover. Nova Scotia lists "safe to burn with partial snow cover" as the top common myth. But politicians and activists in Colorado do not seem to be aware one-hour fuels exist.
    https://novascotia.ca/natr/forestprotection/wildfire/firecentre/grass-burning.asp#:~:text=Myth%3A%20Spring%20burning%20improves%20the,burning%20took%20place%20or%20not.

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  13. Thanks for the excellent and informative discussion. There still may be some climate change-global warming connection with La Niña-associated weather events. Some research predicts that ENSO may increase in frequency and strength under some greenhouse gas emission scenarios (https://research.noaa.gov/article/ArtMID/587/ArticleID/2685/New-research-volume-explores-future-of-ENSO-under-influence-of-climate-change). Maybe Cliff can comment on whether there is any consensus on this point.

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  14. There has always been high wind and dry grass in that area. One would assume 50 years ago it was not uncommon for people to throw lit cigarette butts out the car window. So were there large grass fires in this area? I'm not sure that sparks are enough, I think the wind just blows them out. This disaster was the combination of a fire sheltered in a building long enough to develop a source of a critical mass of hot embers to be spread in the wind.

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    1. Grass fires across the entire short grass prairie from the Front Range for a couple hundred miles to the east were very common more than 50 years ago. I know. I lived there as a kid. What changed wasn't the climate. It was irrigation. Widespread irrigation changed farming. Native grasses were removed and row crops planted. Most of the fires stopped. In the Front Range area of Denver, the cities have bought all of the water rights and shut down much of the irrigated farming. The region is returning to non-irrigated farming and conservation where there is no farming. That makes the area much more flammable again. Historically, fires frequently burned off large areas. The primary difference now is that there a lot of homes built where fires are common. And it isn't really practical to spread the homes far enough apart to protect against fast moving grass fires.

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  15. A few issues...
    1) The Antozzi reference is not a peer-reviewed paper. It is an undergraduate poster presentation at a conference. Extremely weak evidence of anything.
    2) You cite a nickname for the grasses as evidence that they were ready to burn regardless of the drought there. This can hardly be considered scientific evidence.
    3) While AGW might not create conditions of continual drying, it is possible that shifting weather patterns will result in localized conditions that last longer than typical. A good example is the latest forecast for hurricanes: they may be fewer, but they have the potential to be much stronger. Thus the general trend in terms of precipitation may not be downwards, but the level and length of drought conditions could change.

    The big issue, then, is that there are many unanswered questions. While it is fair to say that there isn't any peer-reviewed scientific evidence to convincingly trace the Colorado disaster to AGW, at the same time you haven't proven the absence of a correction.

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    1. David...some of the co-authors on that paper are some of the more experienced regional meteorologists around (like John Brown), who helped supervise the work. The nickname is completely immaterial. Cheatgrass and others are highly flammable and are called out in the Boulder Country wildfire document as being dangerous. Your shifting conditions business does not make any sense. There is no evidence of such "shifting" conditions..can you provide some kind of citation? In any case, if you admit that there is no peer reviewed science support the AGW origins, don't you think the media's claims to that effect were inappropriate? If so, then we are in agreement.

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  16. Good work, Cliff!
    The blog post is a lot more convincing than the podcast.

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  17. Hey Cliff, do you believe CO2 buildup in the atmosphere will have a noticable effect on weather intensity at some point?

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    1. Nope! Because most people are scientifically illiterate and do not understand that CO2, like H2O has different properties at different temperatures (and pressures). Maybe ol' Cliff can explain how CO2 behaves in the mesosphere and thermosphere because me saying it won't mean diddly squat to you.

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  18. Hi Cliff,
    I'm big fan of your blog. I always enjoy the fire topics because thats what I do for a living. I do have one correction/clarification for you. In the discussion of "One hour fuels" you stated, "Such grasses are known as one-hour dead fuels, which means that no matter how moist they are, they can dry enough to burn after ONE-HOUR of drying conditions." That is not an accurate description of time-lag fuels (1,10,100 and 1000 hour fuels). Timelag is the "Time needed under specified conditions for a fuel particle to lose about 63 percent of the difference between its initial moisture content and its equilibrium moisture content." In simple terms this means that a one hour fuels will respond to a change in ambient conditions within it's given time-lag. A one hour time-lag does NOT mean that a given fuel will be receptive to ignition after one hour, just that its moisture content will react to the ambient conditions in that time-frame. Even with no dew, grass can take several hours to see enough fuel moisture change to become receptive, if the conditions are right.

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    1. Unknown....you are correct....the exact definition is that in single hour, the fuel will lose 63% of the moisture towards the equilibrium condition. In this case, the equilibrium condition was very dry. So even if the fuel was relatively moist (dry fuel moisture percentage of say 20%), it would be dry enough to burn (under 10%) in one hour. But it had hours to dry out before the fire....so no matter how wet the grass was, it would be have dry enough to burn when it got ignited around 11:15 AM...that is my central point.

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    2. Absolutely. I only pointed it out so people don't think that will always, 100%, be the case in a single hour. Thanks again for the blog!

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    3. Cliff/Unknown,
      Worth clarifying - the one hour definition for dead fuel does not apply to live fuel. For example, do you really think that on a warm summer day, the moisture content of grass in a green lawn will reach equilibrium with the environment in one hour?

      This point is relevant to the life cycle of cheatgrass:
      “Life-Cycle: Annual, that reproduces by seed and sprouts soon after snow melts and often again in the early fall.”

      https://methowconservancy.org/weeds/cheatgrass

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    4. Snape...you are absolutely correct...these are dead fuel moistures...which is appropriate for the grasses this time of the year

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  19. I lived in Colorado for a time and those winds coming off the eastern slope are known as Chinook Winds, and are very common, not that that's in any way consoling to the people devastated by this event. Thanks for your analysis...it was right on.

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  20. Thank you, Cliff. Favoring a prefered narrative over the truth just might be the greatest possible threat to our wellbeing.

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  21. Well like CA, wonder if CO is going to ask electric car drivers to stop using charging stations and quit charging electric cars. Clearly many don’t understand cause and effect. Where do you think power to charge vehicles via charging stations. In fact 20% of electric car owners have. Switched back to gas. It’s just too much of a hassle to find, use, pay for a charge. Yet this hasn’t stopped states like CA, WA, OR to implement electric car mandate by 2030 (won’t happen). https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/electric-car-owners-switching-gas-charging-a-hassle-study-2021-4%3Famp

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    Replies
    1. What do electric vehicles have to do with a Colorado wildfire?

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    2. they are causing carbon emissions from coal plants that feed their batteries.

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    3. Sure. So is everything else connected to the grid. What's your point, exactly? You know what else powers the grid? Increasingly, renewables. And hydroelectric generation.

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    4. Hydroelectric capacity will decrease if the current Washington state government and tribes remove dams. Other renewables are not capable of providing reliable grid capacity. If you think so, you are fooling yourself. Fossil fuels or nuclear will be needed. Storage of solar and/or wind power is very inefficient currently for one thing.

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    5. Caroline: Like other posters, you need to provide proof to back up your claims. Anyone can just make stuff up and point to it as fact, like you're doing here.

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  22. What do you think is the reason why so many Americans have fallen for a Covid and have given up their personal rights and responsibilities. Get vaccinated and we won’t have to wear masks anymore. Get vaccinated and stop the spread. Stand 6 feet away, wear mask and we still get sick. Yet, as Washingtonians, we seem to listen to foolish advice to a fault. Look at the south and free states, Florida, South Dakota, Montana, Texas, etc. these states are essentially mask free and they are actually doing better with Covid as they are actually letting some immunity build rather than hide from Covid for ever. Heck look at college, pro football games, full stadiums, no mandates. Nobody is keeling over, there are not mass deaths occuring there. Yet in Wa State, go to Hawks game and u have to wear mask. Have to show your “proof of vaccination” to some random unqualified qwest field employee. What is wrong with us. Watch 1984. It’s actually a bit scary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NoSnowMaggedon,
      Today n schools, grocery stores, etc, people are being forced to cover their mouth and nose with some sort of fabric - but you know it won’t stop there. Next thing they’ll be making us wear shirts and shoes too, or, god forbid, even pants or shorts! Something out of a dystopian sci-fI.

      I’m proposing an amendment to the constitution:
      “The right to keep our faces uncovered at all times and places, including in public during a pandemic, shall not be infringed”.

      Stand with me, and don’t let Government take away this important freedom.

      Delete
    2. this was a blog about a wildfire...

      Delete
    3. What do mask and vaccination requirements have to do with a Colorado wildfire? Also, do you have proof to back up your claims? If so, we are waiting.

      Delete
  23. Inslee sold missile technologies to China. Prove me wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s your job to support an assertion, not the reader.

      “Aliens on a distant planet are plotting an invasion of Earth. Prove me wrong.”

      “I once ran a 10 second hundred meter dash. Prove me wrong”.

      Point being, it’s easy to make up nonsense that’s difficult or impossible to prove wrong. Just ask your friend Q.

      Delete
  24. I tend to disagree with the conclusion : "Climate warming has little to do with the wildfires." And I agree with this sentence: But there IS something that probably contributed to the warm, dry conditions and lack of snow this fall on the Colorado Front Range: La Nina."
    Why? With ongoing forcing ( aka "Climate warming") the state of the ENSO is more LaNina like. The "pattern" is the result of the forcing itself, see Lewis/Mauritsen (2020) https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/clim/34/1/jcliD190941.xml#bib61 . This is not replicated by the CMIP's 5 and 6 but this is model bias, see https://academic.oup.com/nsr/article/8/10/nwab056/6212231?login=true .
    In the end we see a LaNina like permanent status ( of course ElNinos will happen also) of the East Pacifik and this leads to more blocking of the Jetstream and thus to more Wildfires in the south and west of the USA. In this sense the wildfires are fostered by the ongoing forcing ( aka Climate warming). The good news is: This reduces the climate sensitivity, see https://www.nature.com/articles/ngeo2838?proof=t%29 well below thr estimations of the GCM because they do not incorporate this negative feedback to the forcing.

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  25. Dr. Mass, thank you for the post. Have you seen the linked data from CSU, indicating that June-Dec 2021 was the warmest/driest such period on record for the Front Range?
    https://twitter.com/russ_schumacher/status/1476715126266994699?s=20

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  26. https://www.drought.gov/states/colorado

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  27. Never let a good tragedy go to waste! - the Media and other political activists.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I respect your analysis... but....Record breaking heat...record breaking cold...record breaking rain..in one year?..hmmm. I think your models aren't picking up something.

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  29. I wonder why all that wonderful grass wasn't harvested for cattle feed. $170 per ton, according to a USDA Agricultural.

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    Replies
    1. Likely because the local residents would not react favorably to large scale agricultural work happening in their immediate vicinity. Zoning ordinances also likely don't permit those activities.

      Delete
  30. Hi Cliff. Respect for your debunking and thoughtful analysis. Down Under best practice would be to do a cool burn on patches of the grasslands when the weather conditions allow for it. The ash from the cool burn provides a fertile layer for the new grass to grow in, and patch work burning allows for the critters living in the grasslands to not be entirely wiped out by big fires - like that one. But more importantly it breaks up the continuous fuel loads. Will such happen - no, because cultural aesthetic considerations over ride such common sense and basically nobody wants to pay for such work. But it would work. Cheers. Chris

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  31. Cliff,
    A few years ago, I planned a backpack trip through an area in Central Oregon where there had been a severe forest fire a few years prior. I was expecting wide open spaces, but just the opposite. The whole landscape, including the trail itself, was covered by a dense thicket of a plant called Snowbrush Ceanothus. About 6 feet tall and nearly impenetrable.

    Apparently, the soil in the area had been full of dormant ceanothus seeds, waiting decades or even centuries for a fire hot enough to allow them to germinate. The plant itself contains high levels of flammable oils which help promote fIre. It’s a native species, and found in recently burned areas throughout the western states. Here’s a great link if you’re interested:

    https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/ceavel/all.html

    ReplyDelete
  32. I came across this article that agrees with you and articulates a better approach for humanity.https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-021-00332-2?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=5899d999ff-briefing-dy-20220110_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-5899d999ff-45370518

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Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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