Climate: June 2015 the 2d-warmest on record

Western U.S. bakes under record heat

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Four states in the Far West reported record-warm January – June temperatures.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With an average temperature of 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, last month was the second-warmest June on record for the contiguous United States, ranking behind June 1933, according to the latest monthly update from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

The West was sweltering, as five states (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah) set all-time June temperature records. Wyoming, Montana and Nevada reported June temps that were in the all-time top five, while Colorado and New Mexico’s June readings were in the top ten warmest on record. Continue reading

Wildfires burn record 1.8 million acres in Alaska

Nationally, fires have scorched more than 2.5 million acres

Spot fires show as small puffs of smoke ahead of the main fire front as the fire moves toward the New Town of the village of Nulato on June 22 Credit: Ben Pratt

Smoke from spot fires ahead of the main fire front as a fire in the Galena Zone moves toward New Town Nulato on June 22, Credit: Ben Pratt/Alaska Interagency Coordination Center.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. Wildfire activity has surged above the 10-year average in the past few weeks, primarily because of what will be a record-breaking fire season in Alaska.

After months of mostly above-average temperatures, Alaska’s vast forests and brushlands were primed, and the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center is reporting that more  600 fires have burned across more than 1.8 million acres in the state.

Fires have caused evacuations, highway closures, and rail and flight disruptions. More than 350 structures have been damaged, including about 70 homes.

Above-average temperatures and a longstanding drought in the western U.S. are big factors in the wildfires burning in parts of Washington, Oregon and California.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are currently 26 major fires burning in Alaska. Nationally, the NIFC is reporting that about 26,000 fires have burned across more than 2.5 million acres for the year to-date, the highest number since 2011, when fires had already scorched more than 4.8 million acres by this time of year.

May was a drought-buster for eastern Colorado

Wet summer ahead?

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May precipitation broke the all-time record for Colorado.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in Many.

Every part of Colorado saw above normal precipitation in May.

Staff Report

FRISCO — May brought drought-busting precipitation to much of Colorado, state climate experts said last week during their monthly Water Availability Task Force meeting in Denver.

The beneficial moisture erased a long-running drought in southeastern Colorado and also helped boost the streamflow outlook in the Rio Grande Basin, where a meager winter snowpack had lowered expectations for summer runoff.

By contrast, the far western third of the state is still designated as experiencing abnormally dry conditions by the National Drought Monitor, which also shows a pocket of moderate drought across western Gunnison and much of Delta counties. Continue reading

Opinion: Climate, drought and the political Bizarro-land of the House Natural Resources Committee

Right-wingers frame drought as battle between environment and people; Colorado could avoid similar showdown with good planning

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Delta smelt, via USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Apparently, the lack of water in California has hindered the ability of some of the state’s elected officials to think straight.

Completely ignoring the facts that California’s precipitation has been well below average for four years in a row, and that the state’s temperatures have running at or near record highs, some Republican congressmen are calling the Golden State’s current dry spell a “man-made drought.” Continue reading

Heat worsens California drought, by a lot

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Months of record-high temperatures  are amplifying the impacts of California’s dry spell.

Sizzling temps kill snowpack, bake soil

Staff Report

FRISCO — The California drought is all the worse because of warmer temperatures, U.S. Geological Survey scientists said this week in a new study that reinforces previous findings.

The research focused on a one-year span, from Oct. 2013 to Sept. 2014, showing that, if the air temperatures had been cooler — similar to the 1916-2012 average — California’s critical winter snowpack would have been bigger, leading to more runoff and lower soil moisture deficits in the summer. Continue reading

Study: Cultural shift and centralized planning helped Melbourne adapt to Australia’s Millennium Drought

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Australia’s blistering Millennium Drought spurred wholesale changes in water use.

Regional water czar directed coordinated drought response

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought-prone cities and regions around the world can look to Melbourne, Australia to get an idea of what it takes to tackle water shortages during extended dry spells — and to prepare for future droughts, which are projected to become more frequent in some regions as global warming intensifies.

As the worst drought in Australia’s history took hold during the late 1990s, the city’s 4.3 million residents were able to cut their daily water use by half, to just 41 gallons per per person, according to a new study. Continue reading

Global warming: Risk of exposure to extreme heat waves is growing dramatically

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Warm enough!

Population growth in warm zones is a big part of the equation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Extreme heat kills more people than any other type of extreme weather, and that mortality could increase significantly in coming decades as the Earth warms under a blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Americans’ exposure to extreme heat could increase  four- to six-fold by 2050, a new study concludes, explaining that it’s not just the heat — the country’s population is  growing especially fast in the hottest regions of the country. Continue reading

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