2:52pm

Wed June 20, 2012
Environment

Hot And Dry Weather Is On The High Park Fire’s Side, Not Ours

Firefighters expect the cooler weather conditions today to help them gain some ground in the High Park fire effort west of Fort Collins, but the return tomorrow to summer highs may put a damper on their progress.

KUNC’s Jackie Fortier spoke with Nezette Rydell, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Boulder to understand if the high temperatures are here to stay.

Fortier- What type of weather pattern is Colorado in right now?

Rydell- Well, we have settled in to a very typical summertime weather pattern for Colorado. Low precip, high temperature, warm mornings we’re not getting the cool down over night so those are leading to some very dry conditions in the mountains.

Fortier- Is there any chance for any real relief from the heat?

Rydell- Well sure the question on everybody’s minds is- are we going to get some rain, and it will rain again in Colorado, even though it may not feel like it today. Monsoon season in the southwest will kick into gear, most Julys and early August sometimes we get a little bit of that activity or some of that activity. Whether or not we’ll see a significant portion this year or not, it’s too early to say, it depends on how that sets up, but there is always the promise of that happening.

Fortier- Why was there such a dramatic difference between this year and last?

Rydell- Both years fall into what we can expect in climate variability here in Colorado, although they are  on the extreme ends in terms of precipitation. That makes it look very drastic because you didn’t gradually transition from one to the other but you had an extreme dry and an extreme wet year coming back to back. When that happens it makes it look worse. But are they drastically different, yes they are and they are extreme.

Fortier- How does the 2012 season compare to 2002, the year of the Hayman fire.

Rydell- Well 2002 was the fire year of memory. We all look back to that as being so terribly dry in Colorado. This year there are many legitimate comparisons to 2002. Are they exactly the same? Probably not, but they’re shaping up in terms of sensible weather- how much water actually falls out of the sky and how much drought and wildfire we see. Certainly they’re very similar and that’s unfortunate because that was a record year for us in terms of fire and drought.

Fortier- What’s the long term forecast looking like for the state?

Rydell- Well for 30 or 60 days we can certainly look for some relief in that period. Summer started off early, and it’s hot and that probably will continue for much of the summer. If in fact we transition into an El Nino type pattern in the fall, we could see a little bit of relief in that the weather patterns will begin to shift more quickly. We will see some rain this summer, it will happen. Weather it’ll be enough to counteract what we’ve seen in temperatures and drought it’s too hard to say right now.