The Climate and Weather Science Behind the Urban Firestorm Near Denver, Colorado’

The Climate and Weather Science Behind the Urban Firestorm Near Denver, Colorado // Jan 10, 2022

Greetings and Happy New Year to everybody.

This morning I was up just after 6 am to go live at 7 pm on Canada’s national broadcaster CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio’s morning show, for a decent length chat about my climate scientist thoughts on the recent “Don’t Look Up” movie. I first saw the satirical comedy in mid-December at a movie theatre, and then a second time on New Year’s Eve with my family. I was planning on watching a third time yesterday to prep for my interview, but 4 episodes of Outlander nixed that plan.

Here is my interview: Ottawa Morning with Robyn Bresnahan (7:51 long, January 10th, 2022. Page down).

Is Losing the Arctic Ice a big deal? Posted on January, 2022 at climate site, Court of the Grandchildren [1]

In this video I delve in detail into the urban firestorm that destroyed about 1000 homes near Denver, Colorado in the closing days of 2021.

This was no wildfire; it was an urban conflagration, more reminiscent of the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo in bombing raids in World War II.

The Denver region was primed for fire having had preconditioning via 150 year record setting dryness, heat, and high winds. This toxic preconditioning just needed a spark to become an inferno.

Downslope winds from the Rocky Mountains reached speeds of 100 mph, knocking over live power lines sparking initial grass and shrub and tree fires. Large chunks of burning embers were carried by the 100 mph winds and fired like missiles against buildings, where they found their way inside homes and businesses via air vents, open windows, cracks under doors, etc. Starting fires within many structures, they quickly engulfed the entire structures, and spared almost no buildings. Bringing to mind similar fires in Paradise, California in 2018 and Lytton, British Columbia in 2021, this fire destroyed almost all structures but seemed to leave many trees unharmed. Any trees downwind and/or in close proximity to blazing structures burned down. However many trees survived, since, I speculate, the burning embers passed quickly through the tree canopies in the 100 mph winds without sufficient time to set the trees ablaze.

One house that was spared, amongst neighborhoods completely razed to the ground belongs to a fellow climate scientist that tweeted out the ordeal. Many climate scientists and wildfire experts and extreme weather meteorologists lost their homes in the Denver suburbs, not being able to afford to live in Denver proper, where they work for NOAA, University of Colorado, and weather risk companies. Huge amounts of data on the fires and smoke plumes was collected by a mobile Doppler on Wheels (DOW) truck and satellite sensors, to be analyzed by scientist including some who lost their homes and neighbourhoods.

A terrible disaster to end 2021 that really points out that almost no place is truly safe from the consequences of abrupt climate change.

Like I say often: We are living in a climate casino and are all vulnerable to Weather Weirding, Weather Wilding, and Weather Whiplashing within our Climate Casino.
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[1] ‘For many years, climate scientist Paul Beckwith at the University of Ottawa, has been warning that we are losing arctic sea ice at unsustainable rates. He says that arctic temperatures are increasing at around four times the global average rate (not the two times often quoted). He predicts abrupt changes as we begin to lose most arctic sea ice in summer.

The reason is simple. In summer the North Pole is under constant sunlight. The white snow and ice reflect 50% to 70% of incoming sunlight, keeping temperatures low. However, when dark-blue water replaces the ice, it instead absorbs around 90% of incoming sunlight, causing arctic temperatures to rise even faster. So what?
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About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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