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Climate: Wet West in July

Energetic monsoon brings moisture surplus to many areas

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The big wet?

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — An energetic and widespread monsoon weather pattern brought above normal precipitation to much of the West in August, with a bullseye of moisture in southern Idaho, extending across western Wyoming, Montana, northeastern Utah and into northwestern Colorado. Some locations in the region saw up to 800 percent of average precipitation. Continue reading

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Wildfire activity well below average for year to-date

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The far West and northern Great Basin are especially prone to wildfires this summer.

Potential for big fires still a concern in California

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For the first time in 10 years, the acreage burned by wildfires was less than 1 million acres as of the beginning of July. With extreme drought and high fire danger in parts of the far West, that could change quickly, but for now, both the number of fires and the acreage affected is well below average for the season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

To-date, 26,684 fires have burned across about 909,000 acres, less than half he average 2.5 million acres for this time of year. By comparison, wildfires had already burned across more than 1.7 million acres last year at this time. In 2011 that number was at 4.8 million acres. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fields

Pastoral beauty

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Fallow fields in Grand Junction, Colorado, with the Grand Mesa as a backdrop.

FRISCO — I haven’t joined in the #FriFotos Twitter chat for a few months, but when I saw this week’s topic, I did a quick scan of the Summit Voice archives to find some of my favorite pictures of fields around the world, starting right here at home in Colorado and ranging as far as Iceland and Antarctica. On a recent trip, Leigh and I had a chance to visit Iceland, and amidst the wondrous ice fields and stunning coastline, we were fascinated by the lava fields, some of which are carpeted with a squishy, thick layer of moss. Upload your field photos via Flickr, Twitter or Instagram, tag them with #FriFotos and then enjoy the global slide show! Continue reading

June 2013 temps run 2 degrees above average

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NOAA report says it was the 15-warmest June on record

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Temperatures last month across the U.S. were 2 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average, making it the 15th-warmest June on record for the contiguous 48 states.

It was also the 13th-wettest June on record, precipitation 0.54 inches above the 20th century average, according to the monthly update from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

Most of the above-average heat was focused along the East Coast and in the West, where California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all reported top-10 readings for June. Continue reading

Morning photo: West!

It’s not ALWAYS wild …

Looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge makes you realize you're about as far west as you can be in the U.S.

Looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge makes you realize you’re about as far west as you can be in the U.S.

FRISCO — When I saw this week’s #FriFotos theme I was pretty excited. After the West is where I first really spread my photography wings and learned to fly. In the early days, it was all I could do to hold the camera steady and straight while taking in those jaw-dropping vistas. Today, places like the Golden Gate Bridge still make my jaw drop, but thanks to digital photography and a slightly more sophisticated approach and technique, I do manage to capture a decent shot every now and then. Join in the Twitter chat fun by uploading your favorite west-themed pics and tagging with #FriFotos and posting them to Twitter. Continue reading

Feds prepping for what could be another bad wildfire season

The High Park Fire burns west of Fort Collins in June, 2012.

The High Park Fire burns west of Fort Collins in June, 2012.

Comments wanted on draft fire management strategy

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — After an exceptional western fire season that included the largest wildfire ever in New Mexico, the second-largest in Colorado and the largest in Oregon since the 1860s, land managers are starting to brace for another long summer.

With parts of the West facing a second consecutive year of drought, there is some concern that 2013 could be even worse than 2012, which ended up ranked third all-time for the amount of land impact by wildfires. According to the year-end stats, wildfires burned across a footprint of about 9.2 million acres. All three of the biggest wildfire seasons on record have occurred during the past 10 years, coinciding with the hottest decade on record. Continue reading

Senate balks on wildfire preparedness funding

Udall amendment would have boosted Forest Service readiness

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A crown fire burns through a western forest. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with budget gridlock, the U.S. Senate this week rejected an effort by two western senators to fully fund the U.S. Forest Service’s wildfire budget for 2013.

Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) had previously offered a budget amendment to pay for pre-placement of firefighters and equipment in anticipation of a wildfire season that could be even worse than last summer’s, which included the two most destructive wildfires in Colorado history, the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires.

“These additional funds would have ensured that the U.S. Forest Service was prudently and appropriately prepared to help prevent and fight catastrophic wildfires next year in Colorado and across the West,” Udall said. “I am concerned that the U.S. Senate has decided to turn a blind eye to these predictable disaster needs,” he said. Continue reading

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