We expected increasing wildfire activity with global warming, and we’ve got it.
The Waldo Canyon Fire has been burning since June 23rd and as of this writing is essentially out of control, with about 5% of it “contained.” Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated. A friend of mine is on house watch as we speak, as various members of her family and her friends from the region have fled the area and are scanning news images for evidence of anything standing (or not) in their neighborhood. Approximately 300 homes are reported to have been burned down yesterday, I have not herd any reports from today.
For reference, the largest fire in Colorado recorded history was the Hayman Fire of 2002. In that fire, 138,114 acres were burned. The Waldo Canyon fire has burned just under 20,000 acres so far. Conditions for expanded burn are excellent, conditions for containing this fire are poor.
The High Park fire started on June 9th and burned 87,250 acres, which is the second largest fire in Colorado to date. It is still burning.
The Bison Fire, or Flagstaff Fire (of Colorado) started on June 26h and is tiny (a few hundred acres) but there are a lot of houses in the area. This one is affecting areas near NCAR, which is ironic, to the extent that NCAR researches climate (obviously) and the increased number of fires in Colorado is a function of changes due to Anthropogenic Global Warming.
Jeff Masters has excellent updates on the fire situation in Colorado. He also notes that the region that is burning is breaking heat records left and right.
Tuesday’s heat toppled many records in the Central U.S., particularly in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas. On Monday and Tuesday combined, 11 locations tied or broke their all-time record high temperature, 78 locations broke their all-time record high for the month of June, and 382 daily high records fell.
Here’s a little rough video from the region (Hint — Turn off your radio before you turn on the flip!):
Wikipedia has brief and seemingly accurate and up to date information on the 2012 fires here.