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

From the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Cliff Mass,

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.

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ResourceGuy
January 6, 2022 2:08 pm

Yes, AZ had a better than normal monsoon which caused the cacti, grass and bushes to really respond. It looks like CO got some too.

roaddog
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 6, 2022 6:20 pm

Last winter was the snowiest winter in Boulder since they began keeping snowfall records.

griff
Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 7, 2022 1:59 am

And that’s the new climate change induced pattern: exceptional precipitation in winter months, vegetation grows in spring, severe drought, fire season worse and extends longer

Ron Long
Reply to  griff
January 7, 2022 2:08 am

griff, perhaps the single biggest threat to summer range fires in the western US is the proliferation of cheat grass, which grows like crazy in the Spring, especially a wet Spring, but dries out quickly. Cows can eat it in the Spring but can’t digest the dried out cheat grass by early summer. Us geologists, working in northern Nevada, are sure to never go into a dead-end canyon in summer with a trailing wind and some thunderstorms around. The speed of these cheat grass fires is amazing.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
January 7, 2022 2:43 am

“And that’s the new climate change induced pattern”

Griff sees a climate change (Human-caused Global Warming) induced pattern in everything. It’s an obsession with him. It’s really delusional since there is not one shred of evidence to connect human-caused CO2 with any changes in the Earth’s climate. Griff just assumes there is. He wants you to make that assumption, too. Right, Griff?

Last edited 19 days ago by Tom Abbott
Mike Edwards
Reply to  griff
January 7, 2022 4:50 am

exceptional precipitation in winter months, vegetation grows in spring”

Clearly, you can’t even be bothered to read the article. The main precipitation in 2021 was in spring and early summer. And the overall precipitation was near average for the year. There’s a graph in the article that shows you this.

What evidence do you have that the fire season was “worse and extends longer”? This fire was basically a single event caused primarily by strong winds. Oh, and humans starting a fire. Those humans are surely bad news…

Richard M
Reply to  griff
January 7, 2022 7:44 am

the new climate change induced pattern

We now know the changes in climate were natural due to oceans cycles (AMO and PDO) reducing reflected solar energy. How do you propose the change these natural ocean cycles?

4E Douglas
Reply to  griff
January 7, 2022 11:21 am

Griff you’ve never fought wildland fire for a living, have you? Or have course in range management? If not, do one or both.

ResourceGuy
January 6, 2022 2:16 pm

Thanks for the rest of the story. Even the list of con job media is useful to see on display.

Scissor
January 6, 2022 2:27 pm

Excellent analysis, Mr. Mass.

The snow storm that helped extinguish smoldering areas after the wildfire came only a day too late. Another storm came in yesterday and left several more inches of snow and the low was about 0F this morning and the high today was only in the teens. The weather here is variably variable but pretty nice overall.

Interestingly, we had a temperature inversion today, so it was actually warmer in the mountains, where the snow continues to dump. I won’t say why I know but a little froggie said “knee deep.”

January 6, 2022 2:29 pm

The results of the Climate Change Enhance fire were covered by Regular Weather snow two days later.

Joseph Zorzin
January 6, 2022 2:33 pm

and of course the Yale Climate Connections site blames the fire on climate change
“A month of unprecedented U.S. weather disasters ends with Colorado fire catastrophe”

https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2022/01/a-month-of-unprecedented-u-s-weather-disasters-ends-with-colorado-fire-catastrophe/

and Tony Heller has a great video on the fire

Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 2:35 pm

Metal roofs, brick/stucco facades, and ember ‘proof’ soffits should have been mandatory in the building codes for this fire prone region. Vinyl siding and asphalt shingle roofs (as pictured) guaranteed that the closely spaced stick built homes were highly combustible. Maybe they will learn now.

After Andrew, south Florida finally got strict ‘hurricane proof’ building codes. And after Wilma, Patricia’s old pre Andrew code rental property got mandatory steel hurricane window shutters (put up only if hurricane is coming, but with all the install hardware preanchored. Just loosen the big flat head stainless steel ‘screws’, slip on the shutter panels, retighten the screws).
And also after Wilma, all South Florida gas stations and grocery stores got mandated back up nat gas generators so gas can be pumped and refrigerated foods won’t spoil. My Publix was testing theirs yesterday when I was shopping there. Out back, steel cased, up on stilts above storm surge levels.
Our residential building has a big one in its own ‘hurricane proof’ ground floor sound insulated room to insure elevators operate and common areas remain lit.

Scissor
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 2:51 pm

Good comments. The insurance industry has ample incentive to help minimize damage.

Max More
Reply to  Scissor
January 6, 2022 3:34 pm

Yes, no need for the coercion in building codes as Rud Istvan suggested.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Max More
January 6, 2022 4:05 pm

Max, not so simple.
The insurance industry did NOT fix the Andrew or Wilma problems. They simply left Florida after Wilma, refusing to insure here at all. Policies simply not renewed. State Farm, Allstate, the whole lot of them just fled.
So we had to start our own state owned hurricane insurance company, ‘Citizens’. And part of passing that state legislation was also upping mandatory coastal building codes to keep state taxpayer insured future losses down. People in north central Florida have no incentive to subsidize South Floridians living on the fringes of the Everglades. So they didn’t.

Thomas Mee
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 5:14 pm

Insurance companies have no incentive to control costs. Costs are good. They can charge more for insurance, and even with the same profit margin, they make more money when costs go up. Medical insurance is a good example. Owners have incentive, but less if they are insured.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Thomas Mee
January 7, 2022 11:52 am

Clearly you don’t understand the economics; if they can’t charge enough for the risk they bear, they won’t be in business for long, and loss costs are a big part of the equation.

Medical insurance is a poor example, since individuals are for the most part not all going to experience big medical bills all at once.

Weather-related “catastrophe” losses, where a large number of risks all experience major or even total losses all at once, challenge the basic business model, which is predicated on pooling of resources of many “risks” to fund the losses of those who experience them. Pricing based on pooling of many risks doesn’t function so well when entire towns burn down or are blown apart all at once.

So there is most definitely an incentive to control costs. Even in uncorrelated risk types, there is an incentive to control costs – see the Insurance Institute for Highway safety, and its contribution to pushing for more crash-worthy vehicles.

roaddog
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 5:51 pm

Similarly, after the big fires south of Denver 6 to 8 years ago, when ~450 houses burned down in consecutive years, several insurance companies simply bailed out and would no longer insure us. Allstate left us high and dry, after gleefully accepting our premiums for the previous 20 years.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  roaddog
January 7, 2022 12:02 pm

At the end of the day, it’s a business. When you clearly can’t make money when the risk vs. price proposition is considered, companies will stop writing the business.

How may of the houses that burned down were built with wood? And why do the CO building codes permit that in wildfire prone areas?

When areas become “uninsurable,” it’s usually because of stupid zoning and building practices.

Take a good look at Tony Heller’s video and that nice aerial view of the (undoubtedly all wood-framed) housing. As they say, “common sense is not so common.”

Fred Middleton
Reply to  roaddog
January 7, 2022 8:13 pm

ISO – Insurance Service Office creates Fire Department rating. Does not address Urban Interface High density housing per acre etc. Owner exterior house keeping/allowances of decorative vegetation/privacy. FEMA is the slow goat.

Last edited 18 days ago by Fred Middleton
AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 7, 2022 11:40 am

I’ll give this some more “color” for you. The truth of the matter is that Florida property insurance prices were far too low, owing to intensive competition and complacency due to low hurricane losses insurance-wise keeping rates depressed. There were not any big Florida hurricane losses for decades before Andrew.

See a list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Florida_hurricanes_(1975%E2%80%931999)

Andrew was a wake-up call to the complacent insurance industry that caused the pendulum to swing the other way – to insurers simply exiting the state when rate “corrections” would not be granted overnight. Also remember that Andrew came ashore in Homestead, hardly a “ritzy” area; had it come ashore in Miami, the loss would have been staggering – and insurance companies were re-assessing their exposures (which caused them great alarm) and “modeling” and seeing just how much worse it could be when the next “big one” hit, which was no longer something that hadn’t happened in decades.

While it is true that the insurance industry did not “fix” the building code problems, it didn’t create them either. Florida should have required much tougher building standards to begin with, but did not. And along with many other states, Florida had its insurance department fighting to keep rates “affordable” which is to say below what they should be in high hazard areas (in this case, much of the state). Many states to this day have “wind pools” and similar government sponsored mechanisms designed to make insurance “affordable” which encourages “development” in risky areas without those who live there bearing their true share of the costs of doing so. As with most government interference, this has made matters much worse. “Citizens” is yet another mechanism to artificially depress prices compared to where they would “float” if risk-based, and only luck has kept it solvent so far.

In a similar vein, I was privy to an analysis regarding wildfire risk in California. The result didn’t surprise me, and won’t surprise anyone on here, except maybe Griff. The driver of higher CA wildfire insurance industry losses is…wait for it…NOT that wildfires are more numerous or that bigger areas are burning, but that…we are building more and more houses in fire prone areas. If California did their building codes right, houses constructed in the “wildland interface” would be required to be constructed using steel reinforced concrete, not WOOD.

rhs
Reply to  Scissor
January 6, 2022 7:38 pm

I whole heartily agree!

AndyHce
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 8:33 pm

Maybe they will learn now.

At best, only a few of the most wealthy. None of the rest could afford those alterations anyway.

Mike Edwards
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 7, 2022 5:06 am

Rud,

We lived in Boca Raton, Florida, in the late 1980s. Our rented house was built in the 1960s and had full concrete block walls and a roof made of heavy concrete tiles. Such construction would resist a Hurricane strike – the only need was to shutter up the windows & doors.

I was amazed to see the destruction caused by Andrew where the much newer housing was basically made of matchsticks. I thought it insane that buildings constructed that way were permitted in Florida, with its long history of major hurricane strikes. They learned the hard way.

As you say, there are also straighforward ways of building houses to resist fire – this most certainly ain’t rocket science.

The saying “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes” applies even more to the construction of homes.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Mike Edwards
January 7, 2022 12:05 pm

The saying “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes” applies even more to the construction of homes.

This x infinity.

Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 2:37 pm

The Colorado fires were as suspiciously unusual as similiar fires in CA and elsewhere – white ash, melted cars and appliances, trees and singular homes left standing. Read some of the comments on this local news channel for a clue:

Chopper video shows devastation in Boulder County caused by Marshall Fire

Chris Giammanco
This is insane, I’ve never seen entire suburbs burned away like that.

Frank Pesco
Welcome to California, Direct Energy Weapons for sure. [35 likes]

Denise Cintas
California has had so many towns, subdivisions gone, just like that. Prays for everyone, fire is so devastating.

gary fontez
Very odd. Why are there no typical blackened, charred structural remains? Why is the debris white? I saw no black and burnt appliances within the white debris. It is physically impossible for a wildfire to get hot enough to reduce a stove, etc, to ash. What happened here?

Наталья Вайс
 @gary fontez  Very very good question! What really happened?

Enji at Rosemary Rose Quartz
 @gary fontez  and why are the trees still standing. Oddest fires ever

Mariana Zinsou
Twilight Zone. Go 5 figure outG

Shaun Connolly
 @Enji at Rosemary Rose Quartz  right, that is the most obvious evidence that this wasn’t a real fire…everything burnt to ash but all the trees are completely fine??? they would be the first to go cause its wood

Lee
2 months ago there were fireballs in the sky documented, now this. My prayers go out to this community!!

Enji at Rosemary Rose Quartz
 @Shaun Connolly  the other big Q is – why doesn’t anyone else have the eyes to c it’s obvious – the trees are still standing some even green yet everything else is burn d ash white with nothing left but white ash . Not the first we’ve seen this either

Shaun Connolly
@Enji at Rosemary Rose Quartz  I know, I have watched the 6:30pm abc news the last two tonight’s and they show plenty of eveidemce showing evergreen trees and others all fine right next to houses burnt completely to ash along with cars nearly incinerated. Also, how does anyone not realize that the tempature in that area of CO is usually 40 degrees or so this time of year….how does a wild fire and dry conditions occur during a CO winter…I can understand the sheep thinking it’s a wildlife if CA cause it’s always hot and dry there but not CO in winter

Enji at Rosemary Rose Quartz
@Shaun Connolly  well yes but NOT when it’s from Canada to Mexico as was last year * unbelievable times

Enji at Rosemary Rose Quartz
@Shaun Connolly  hear you . I lived in Colorado many years. First thoughts before seeing the footage was – are you kidding ? This time of the year ? No way ! The visual confirms everything.

Coiled Steel
@Frank Pesco  Did You See the Melted Cars? 🤔

faithisme speaks
@Frank Pesco  , Exactly, the government must think we are all pretty stupid to think we do not know about their weather control devices coupled with the directed energy weapon. Between this silent war they are waging against the people, and the military grade psyops, there is not much you can do against that kind of evil. Except get right with God, because these evil bastards are going for a full court press for their One World Order and their electronic cashless computer technocracy. Only a matter of time till they hit us with the frequency microwave WiFry weapon, which of course they will blame on some mystery virus.

Coiled Steel
Very Suspicious How Some Areas Devistated, Yet Next Door Area IS Untouched! 🤔

Frank Pesco
@faithisme speaks  Copy that

Joshua Parker Rains
love the way the pine trees r barely affected by the intense fire n winds. Every house on every side of these trees r burned to the ground yet the pine trees still have all their needles. Wow. That’s not weird at all. .

twhitten828
D.E.W.

Numb One
Directed energy weapons!

BlueSkEyes
Dew

Brian Scott
Surgery by laser

Brian Scott
@twhitten828  Exactly precision removal

green leaf
Laser precision…tragic.

Brian Scott
@Ken Brame  either way it’s all part of the plandemic that has already been implemented. Sheep led to slaughter.

Ken Brame
DEW and HAARP

Joshua Parker Rains
@Ken Brame  trust n believe those people will never rebuild there. They r clearing the land n herding people closer to cities. Just like the Ky tornadoes. Wat r the chances of a tornado that is on the ground for over 250 miles being very specific as to hit straight thru the middle of towns n residential areas. They were not only fueling the tornado but directing its path as well.

David Lester
This is oddly familiar. Similar destruction as
Rohnert Park, California back in 2017. Watching footage I felt I was back driving through that area in 2018. 😣

Tiffany Doyle
I said the same thing. It does not look like a typical run of the mill fire. Not even hardly any singe marks on the sidewalk or roads. Suspicious if you ask me.

Fearless Liberty
DEW’s

Cardinal Star
Weather warfare 💯 just like Santa Rosa yeah like it really hopped the 101 then they did Armstrong last summer then Fairfield then Santa Cruz then the Sierras.

pigknickers
As we know I think, this is a weapon. It could have been footage from 17 or 18 as you say.

Chris Anderson
OMG! One house left standing in the neighborhood, and all around it is piles of ashes. How Devastating! 💔 What a way to start a new year😥

C Daub
And it “happens” to be the Gov’s mansion.. only… still standing??

That Guy
(Update: as of 12/31/21 number of hosues destroyed has grown to 1,000+ Still no reported casualties.) For those confused, here is a summary: This fire was on an unstoppable rampage through metro Colorado. Over 1000+ homes destroyed. Couldn’t bring in any form of air support due to the 70 to 110 mph winds and extremely low visibility. Most destructive fire ever in Colorado. Luckily it is now snowing, preventing the hot spots from growing. No deaths are yet reported, likely won’t stay that way for long. Considering we haven’t had any significant moisture since summer it spread uncontrollably quick. The cause of the fire is still not confirmed, though AT THE TIME OF FIRST WRITING THE NEWS SAID IT WAS CAUSED BY A DOWNED POWER LINE. -Updated version as of 12/31 at 7:00 pm

Mr Tea
Oh good god. You’re so full of s$&7

Yogi Bee
es how can you have a fire and have trees and grass untouched? DEW

SamRock
Very reminiscent and unnatural like the fires in Paradise, Ca

Josh Kelley
Microwave weapon. Effects metal not biological.

Scissor
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 2:46 pm

That’s just bull shit, unless the directed energy weapon was someone lighting a bowl in that shed and their butane hash oil experiment got out of control.

There were sustained winds of 30-40 MPH and gusts of twice that.

MarkW
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 3:23 pm

I’d love to know the name of the site where you managed to find all those nut jobs.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 3:41 pm

Exactly, the government must think we are all pretty stupid to think we do not know about their weather control devices coupled with the directed energy weapon. Between this silent war they are waging against the people, and the military grade psyops, there is not much you can do against that kind of evil. Except get right with God, because these evil bastards are going for a full court press for their One World Order and their electronic cashless computer technocracy. Only a matter of time till they hit us with the frequency microwave WiFry weapon, which of course they will blame on some mystery virus.

Microwave weapon. Effects (sic) metal not biological

In totally unrelated news, tinfoil hat futures are up…

Last edited 19 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
roaddog
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 5:40 pm

That is totally moronic.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 8:28 pm

Your post is far too long to qualify as black humour. Besides, there is no punch line.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 6, 2022 8:43 pm

It must be a thing cause people on this web exchange said so and they couldn’t all be wrong plus it gave me a tingle.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Bill Parsons
January 6, 2022 9:49 pm

plus it gave me a tingle

Yes, but where?

Joao Martins
Reply to  Linda Goodman
January 7, 2022 3:05 am

The Colorado fires were as suspiciously unusual as similiar fires in CA and elsewhere

You are right. Unprecedented. Unprecedently devastating.

My humble guess is, they are the outcome of attacks from extra-terrestrial aggressive beings. Why isn’t the Department of Defense doing … like, something?

Last edited 19 days ago by Joao Martins
Ron Long
January 6, 2022 2:42 pm

I’m not woke, so here goes: La Niña is a Bad Girl. Not like the old saying: Good Girls go to Heaven, Bad Girls go Everywhere Else. Not like that. La Niña is responsible for poor fishing along coastal Peru, poor quality of wine grapes in Argentina, too much snow in NW USA, leading to avalanches, and drought over central and SW USA. Go El Niño!

Jerry
January 6, 2022 2:44 pm

I’ve lived here for 32 years (Broomfield area) and absolutely nothing different is going on now than when I first came here. I’ve also been a cyclist for that 32 years and I can say that what used to be two lane roads with no traffic is now four lane split roads with every imaginable store available. Riding south on McCaslin used to be the epitome of great local riding, steep inclines with no fear of death. Now it just sucks with everyone racing home to their Boulder suburb McMansion.

Scissor
Reply to  Jerry
January 6, 2022 3:01 pm

I’m a neighbor. I rode my bike to Avista last Saturday before the snow got heavy and took a lot of pictures of the smoldering neighborhood south of Dillon.

The road traffic now scares me so, I ride a mountain bike and pretty much stick to the trails. Broomfield to Boulder is a long ride for me.

Gunga Din
January 6, 2022 2:46 pm

Just curious.
The plains in the US had routine wide spread grass fires before it was settled.
Some native plants depended on the fires to crack open their seeds’ shells to repopulate the areas burned.
Was this area one of those areas that routinely had wide spread grass fires?

Scissor
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 6, 2022 3:05 pm

Not necessarily wide spread, but I would imagine frequent. The following discusses the fire ecology around here.

https://static.colostate.edu/client-files/csfs/pdfs/ColoradoFireEcologyOverview101712.pdf

Last edited 19 days ago by Scissor
Rud Istvan
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 6, 2022 4:26 pm

Lived in Chicagoland for many years, on the true prairie eastern fringe. And we had remanent oak prairie savannah on my SW Wisconsin dairy farm—burr oak prairie proofs. The Front range high grasslands are NOT true US prairie. Too high, too dry, not enough deep topsoil. The rough dividing line can be seen ecologically in western Nebraska—prairie versus ‘high prairie’. It is true that true prairie needs fire to regenerate, no different than western mountain lodgepole pine ecosystems, but for different reasons.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Gunga Din
January 7, 2022 2:57 am

Oklahoma and surrounding areas have a lot of wildfires, most of which are in unpopulated areas.

commieBob
January 6, 2022 3:02 pm

When I look at the picture of those two houses, they appear to be correctly spaced. The garage wall, being closest to the property line, has no windows.

So, as far as I can see, there are no building code violations.

There are the lovely flammable wooden gates between the houses.

I bet the siding is vinyl. It doesn’t burn but it does melt and expose the studs to fire.

There’s a vent up near the peak and I bet it’s a cheapie that embers will easily pass through.

There are also the lovely heat -trapping overhangs.

If you knew that your subdivision was susceptible to a fire storm, you wouldn’t build like that.

The question is then, what did the builder and the building inspector know, and when did they know it?

I know we aren’t supposed to be able to sue the government, but after the Edmond Fitzgerald went down, the insurance companies spent a pile of money investigating whether the navigation charts might have been in error.

Scissor
Reply to  commieBob
January 6, 2022 3:16 pm

I’ve owned two houses in Louisville. Moved a little further east because I liked more space.

Anyway, there is some vinyl siding, not usually original. Most of the builders in that area used some kind of wood composite to accent stone and brick. In the high end homes, tile or something similar is used as roofing. There used to be a lot of cedar shakes.

It would be good to have the west face of houses to be more fire resistant.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Scissor
January 6, 2022 5:37 pm

 On the east slope of the Cascades, I’ve had false-stone (Versetta) put on the bottom and Hardie® Plank Lap Siding above that. I’ve cleaned out all nearby trees and shrubs. See FireWise.

Photos I’ve seen of the CO subdivisions show lots of trees and shrubs between and close to the houses. These are places for embers to land. Look under such for piles of leaves.

roaddog
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 10, 2022 11:12 pm

Fire mitigation is boring. There will be a brief resurgence of it now, but it won’t last long at all.

Yooper
Reply to  Scissor
January 7, 2022 10:14 am

Look up Hardy Board, it’s thin sheets of concrete sided as siding.

rhs
Reply to  commieBob
January 6, 2022 7:43 pm

Vinyl siding isn’t prevalent out here.
Here for me is a bit east of the fire but with a sister near the fire in Lafayette.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  commieBob
January 7, 2022 12:50 pm

Oh vinyl siding will most definitely burn if you get it hot enough, and once it gets started it burns furiously and is difficult to extinguish.

Bill Parsons
January 6, 2022 3:08 pm

Thanks for bringing us this good, thorough report. Of particular interest to me – and of significant disinterest to the warmers – was the extremely wet springtime we had in Colorado. Copious rains along the front range lasted from mid-March till mid-August. Early and prolonged rains don’t make for a coherent preface to the drought narrative, but this catastrophe started with heavy growth of range grasses west of Boulder County.

http://www.globalwarmingdenver.com/tot_precip.html

It’s a curious oversight that the this fact is omitted in the scare stories. By the time the rains stopped, we had a bumper crop of grasses and weeds growing. In my suburb of Denver, up until the snow storm of the last few days, I saw tall stands of crested wheat, bent, Indian rice, bluestem, smooth brome, oat grass and the above-mentioned cheat grass. Russian thistle, one of the invaders that grows to be a prominent bush, snaps off at ground level and tumbles, and must have been a significant carrier of the fire into the Boulder communities. They can be seen whirling through some of the videos that have shown up on line.

Scissor
Reply to  Bill Parsons
January 6, 2022 3:39 pm

That’s all true. The grasses had a good year, and I never saw so much curly dock as this past season. Patches of it stretched for miles.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Scissor
January 6, 2022 4:44 pm

Had to look that up. Different invasive than the bane of my SW WI dairy farm, burdock.
Curly dock thrives in wet soils, so biological proof that this growing season was wet so grasses were extra abundant.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 5:20 pm

Pure goat-love.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Bill Parsons
January 6, 2022 6:43 pm

Not that I would know anything…you know… about that kind of thing.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Rud Istvan
January 6, 2022 5:44 pm

Curly dock will grow in spring and early summer where there is ample moisture. There is a tap root and there are ample seeds for new plants. Then it can dry and appears a rust-red color. I always have a few that I cut and bag; something for future archaeologists to ponder.

Mike Dubrasich
January 6, 2022 3:14 pm

Yes. Right as rain. Those responsible for the fire, the guilty parties, are the drafters and signatories of the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan:

Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)
Deb Gardner
Elise Jones
Matt Jones

Planning Commission (PC)
Mark Bloomfield
Sam Fitch
Leischen Gargano
Ann Goldfarb
Dan Hilton
Sam Libby
Gavin McMillan
Melanie Nieske
Todd Quigley

These are politicians who jammed homes together downwind of grassy fuel-laden “preserves”. They established the conditions that led to the catastrophic inferno. No doubt about it. Foolish, greedy, blind, careless, virtue-signalling, pandering to UC numpty quackademics, as Far Left as they can be, and incompetent beyond belief.

The citizens of Boulder County are also to blame, for allowing chowderheads to set them up for fiery disaster, as are the State pols including Goober Jared Polis who also approved and celebrated the deadly chowderhead plan.

Will anyone of these apologize, or take responsibility, or learn from their errors? Don’t hold your breath. Stupid is forever.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
January 6, 2022 4:16 pm

Just like everything and everywhere else, “climate change” is your one stop get out of jail card.

If there is an epidemic out there it comes from blaming people’s own failures on climate

Bob Tisdale(@bobtisdale)
Editor
January 6, 2022 3:49 pm

Thanks, Cliff. Well done.

Regards,
Bob

stinkerp
January 6, 2022 5:01 pm

High winds caused by a chinook or föhn wind. It happens frequently on the Front Range as everyone who lives there knows. Add fire and the results are devastating, as Californians and PG&E know.

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.

Ummm… there was more than one fire. The Marshall fire seems to have originated at the church (or “religious community”) property (or “fundamentalist religious group” or “cult” as some like to say because using marginalizing terms makes it easy to blame, when it could have just been an accident).

The Middle Fork fire to the north did not start there. Fyi.

Last edited 19 days ago by stinkerp
John Hultquist
Reply to  stinkerp
January 6, 2022 5:49 pm

About 84% of wildland fires can be traced back to humans.
In this case it could just be improper wiring in a chicken coop.
All wires should be in conduit and all junctions in boxes.
I think that is a nation-wide code – not positive about it.

Tim Keith
January 6, 2022 6:30 pm

“The windstorm event itself ensured that the grasses were ready to burn”

It is the response of the 1-hr fuel bed to humidity that ensured that the grasses were ready to burn. However, wind does exacerbate drying of the fuels and importantly, is a significant control knob for direction of spread and rates of spread -ROS (among some other factors). I’m assuming that’s what Cliff meant.

AndyHce
January 6, 2022 8:21 pm

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.

Never let … go to waste — as an excuse for increasing political power.

AndyHce
January 6, 2022 8:29 pm

This article claims that weather forecast models are now being used to show the strong relationship (attribution) between nasty fossil fuels and extreme weather. This is accomplished by running a weather forecast model multiple over such an event, each run using different concentrations of atmospheric CO2.

https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-how-weather-forecasts-can-spark-a-new-kind-of-extreme-event-attribution

Are atmospheric CO2 concentrations really part of weather forecast models? If so, why?

Last edited 19 days ago by AndyHce
AndyHce
Reply to  AndyHce
January 8, 2022 8:37 am

So, nobody knows enough about how weather forecasting works to have a glimmer of an idea how to answer my question?

January 6, 2022 9:17 pm

Good summary Cliff

griff
January 7, 2022 1:58 am

Absolutely, yes…

An extreme drought since August in the area.

PaulID
Reply to  griff
January 7, 2022 8:21 am

No not really you really need to read with comprehension not just to find buzzwords that support your delusions.

Tom Abbott
January 7, 2022 2:25 am

From the article: “This event had little to do with climate change.”

This event had *nothing* to do with climate change. There is nothing to connect this event to humans causing CO2 changes in the atmosphere. There is nothing to connect the way the atmosphere behaves with CO2.

January 7, 2022 2:42 am

Doesn’t the CO2 increase cause increased foliage growth. If there’s more foliage isn’t it likely there’ll be an increase in fires?

SMS
January 7, 2022 5:17 am

I graduated from CU in the middle 70’s. The students were just as radical then as now, but with different agendas. Pronouns weren’t the problem.

The Pine Beetle infestation was just getting started. The Forest Service wanted to blanket spray any infected region to prevent the spread of the insect. The environmentalists were adamant that spraying was not necessary and that it could be controlled by the landowners. Their argument was that blanket spraying would kill all the insects and disrupt the ecological system then existing in the sprayed area. The environmentalists were the squeaky wheel and so the governing bodies followed the lead of a group of people who knew nothing of forest management.

What was allowed. If a landowner found an infected tree on his/her property, they were allowed to cut it down, section it, cover with plastic and then spray to kill the bugs that were infecting that one tree.

Fast forward 50 years. Anyone traveling through Colorado cannot help but notice the large swaths of beetle killed timber. Rocky Mountain National Park was a prime example of a dead Lodgepole pine forest. Colorado experienced two of it’s largest fires in history; East Troublesome ( Rockly Mountain National Park ) and Cameron in 2020. Both fires were fed primarily by beetle killed Lodgepole Pine.

One wonders if those fires would have occurred if the Colorado governing bodies would have listened to those who knew how to manage forests instead of the squeaky wheels.

roaddog
Reply to  SMS
January 10, 2022 11:17 pm

Government and knowledge are incompatible; just like Green Fantasies and forest management are incompatible.

Kevin kilty
January 7, 2022 7:47 am

I don’t know the dates of the 1972 Chinook winds that Mr. Mass speaks of here, but in late January or early February of 1972 I was living temporarily in Laramie, Wyoming. One evening ferocious Chinook winds took out the power. In the dry air, full of dust and debris, we had the most spectacular display of St. Elmo’s fire I have ever observed. Every tree branch and every aluminum window frame was glowing in the darkened city. Buildings outlined in indigo. Occasionally the darkness was interrupted by a violet-colored explosion to the north of the city — probably arcing from some electrical equipment at a substation or possibly from downed power lines.

Chinook winds are nothing new or out of the ordinary.

Kip Hansen(@kiphansen2)
Editor
January 7, 2022 8:31 am

Dr. Mass mentions only briefly the major point of the fires: “homes provide massive amounts of fuel to help grow and propagate the fire”. As was true in Paradise, CA, the homes themselves were the most combustible thing in the fire path. Had the grass fire rushed into a neighborhood of brick homes there would have been no disaster.

Building codes could have prevented the worst outcomes. These would have included cleared “fire safe zones” around the neighborhood — mowing of grass or brush in a 50-100 yards fire barrier, non-flammabe roofing and siding, proper spacing between homes……

The images of the aftermath show homes burnt to the foundations, while conifers in the yards stand untouched. Less flammable home standing unharmed while homes on either side have been consummed.

littlepeaks
January 7, 2022 8:31 am

Here in Colorado Springs, we had 90 mph winds a week or two before this event. And Manitou Springs had 100 mph gusts. Lot of power outages, downed trees and downed fences. Part of my fence broke off and needs replaced. Where I live, everyone has underground utilities, so no power outages here.

Timothy Buchanan
January 7, 2022 8:45 am

Insurance companies, pah! I built our house in Crystal Park, a gated community in the hills above Colorado Springs. It is made of E-crete, a foamed concrete that acts like a high-tech adobe, with stucco covering and a metal roof and windows. The vegetation around it was trimmed to Colorado’s highest wildfire standards, the LPG tank is buried, I have firefighters’ gel and a generator to keep our well working, and our fire department is about 150 meters away. Is all this work reflected on my home’s insurance premium? No. they assign risk based solely on location. After the Waldo Canyon fire I had difficulty in even finding an insurer. Homeowners here have little financial incentive to prepare against wildfire.

yirgach
January 8, 2022 6:31 am

Here in Southern VT we have had some very spectacular sunsets in the last 10 days. Right after sundown the sky turned a deep brilliant red interspersed with striking blue and green patches. Extremely unusual, reminded us of some of the intense Auroras from 30 years ago.
Was not aware of this fire until now, but I think it may have caused the extreme sunsets.

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