Colorado has warmed 2 degrees F on average in the last 30 years.
Colorado’s recent average summer temperatures are even higher than the extreme heat of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Peak runoff has been coming 1 to 4 weeks earlier. Warming temperatures and drier soils increase the likelihood of larger wildfires.
Colorado broke its average-temperature record for August, when the Cameron Peak Fire — the largest in state history — began burning. The three largest wildfires in Colorado history occurred this year. 30 years from now these same temperatures will likely be viewed as relatively cool.
Chris Nelder, interview with Mark Campanale, The Energy Exchange, October 2020. This month we went from historic high temperatures for the day to a historic decline in temperatures over 24 hours to snow, so we went from high 90s to snow in the course of a day. And this had never happened before in this way. The changing shape of the jet stream (due to climate change and arctic melting) caused this absurd anomaly where this massive cold front descended from out of Canada right down through the middle of the US. This is not predictable. This is not something technology is ever going to be able to deal with.
U.S. wildfires set record, burning 10.3M acres in 2020
Thomas Frank, E&E News, December 22, 2020
The number of acres burned by wildfire in the U.S. this year has broken a modern record, according to new data published by the National Interagency Fire Center, as climate-driven heat and dryness fueled major conflagrations across populated areas in the West. Wildfire has burned a total of 10.3 million acres so far this year — an area three times the size of Connecticut — breaking the calendar-year record of 10.1 million acres, set in 2015.
More than 40% of the wildfire in 2020 burned in California. This marks the third year that wildfire has burned more than 10 million acres in the U.S., according to fire center records going back to 1983. All three of those years have been since 2015. […] With wildfire concentrated in California, Colorado and Oregon, “there’s a good chance this year’s fires were also the most costly on record,” said Steven Davis of the University of California, Irvine. Davis’ recent study projected that California wildfires in 2018 caused more than $150 billion in damage and killed 3,652 people — far more than the official death toll of 106 — due to emissions from wildfire. “The economic impacts this year are likely to have been larger per acre burned because of where those acres were — near densely populated metro areas in California and Colorado,” Davis said. The record wildfire occurred as states shattered heat records.
In California, the average temperature from July through November broke a 125-year-old record by nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit, according to NOAA records. Five of the six largest wildfires in California history occurred this year, including the August Complex Fire that has burned more than 1 million acres in Northern California.
Colorado broke its average-temperature record for August, when the Cameron Peak Fire — the largest in state history — began burning. The three largest wildfires in Colorado history occurred this year. Oregon set an average-temperature record in September, when wildfires forced 40,000 people to evacuate. “With climate change, fires are becoming increasingly weather- and climate-dominated. What that means is that the things we were doing in the mid- and late 20th century to manage fire are increasingly irrelevant and counterproductive and ineffective because weather and climate are in charge,” said forest ecologist Chad Hanson of the John Muir Project in California.