News & Blogs
Weather = Fire
By: MrMixon, 2:00 AM GMT on March 22, 2011
With another fire weather warning comes, sure enough, another large fire. This time in the mountains west of Golden. From what I've heard, the fire has grown to at least 700 acres and at least 100 homes have been evacuated. A yellow-brown haze and the acrid smell of the forest fire was noticeable in Louisville today. Two other fires flared up in the mountains south of here, but have been put out.
I drove home via Coal Creek Canyon this evening and passed two Boulder County Bomb Squad vehicles... wonder what that was about?
More details later...
Wind, snow, and fire. Just another spring day in the Rockies. We've had nasty winds all day Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Gusts well over 60mph were recorded in various parts of Boulder County. I've seen numerous reports of trees down, and yesterday morning I noticed the top was snapped off of a tree in our office park. The winds were worse down here on the plains Tuesday, but they've now calmed down here and they've picked up in the foothills and mountains (nearly lost the door off my car yesterday morning to a rogue gust).
There have been reports of numerous small fires popping up all over the area, including a grass fire in an open area in downtown Boulder on Tuesday. Most have been put out before causing any damage, though. The Indian Gulch Fire is the biggest at the moment... about 1,200 acres. It's in the mountains west of Golden. Despite the high winds, firefighters prevented the fire from growing over the past 24 hours, but it's still only about 25% contained.
Up at home (around 8,300 feet) we got a couple inches of snow from intermittent wind-driven showers Tuesday and Wednesday, but you wouldn't know it by looking at open areas since the wind has blown most of the snow into wind-protected areas. I heard they got a few flurries and light rain down on the plains Tuesday morning, but otherwise it's been clear to partly cloudy down low...
One more tidbit on fires. We've had at least two major evacuations (>100 homes) so far this year. It strikes me as rather early in the season for such things (according to the BLM our fire season typically starts in May), but it's not exactly shocking for us to have fires this spring:
Meteorologists say wildfires are common this time of year, when strong wind persists and vegetation is dry. Compounding that was a severe drought, which is affecting most of Colorado east of the Rocky Mountains — including the Denver metropolitan area — the U.S. Drought Monitor said.
The lower foothills and high plains on the eastern side of the Rockies have had little moisture since August, said Tim Mathewson, a fire meteorologist for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, which coordinates federal, state and local firefighting.
"It hasn't been just the last couple weeks. This is part of an extended dry period," he said.
Full Story Here
I snapped this photo of the Indian Gulch Fire (near Golden, Colorado) during my lunch break yesterday. The latest news update puts it at over 1,200 acres and about 25% contained. No reports of injuries or structures lost yet. Luckily, winds have calmed down enough that they've been able to resume air support.
As of this morning the size and containment numbers for the Indian Gulch Fire remain unchanged. It's unusual for both numbers to remain constant for more than 24 hours, but I guess the shifting winds have forced the fire to move back on itself, preventing it from growing, while steep, roadless terrain has hampered containment efforts.
Let's hope they get that fire under control today.
Updated: 4:42 PM GMT on March 24, 2011
By: MrMixon, 5:13 PM GMT on March 18, 2011
Well, they finally got the Lefthand Fire contained last Tuesday. It burned approximately 622 acres but luckily it did not damage any structures or cause any injuries.
This is one of the earliest large fires that I can remember around these parts, but that's not surprising considering how far behind we are on snowfall. I haven't found a good source for date-specific snowfall norms (suggestions please), but I saw a piece on the news the other night that said the Denver area has had less than half of it's normal snowfall for this time of year. Hopefully we'll get a couple of "catch-up" storms in March and April.
An intense, but narrow band of showers dropped about 1.5" of snow on Nederland last night... a bit less than I was hoping for, but it's something. Unforunately, it was enough to cause a rollover accident near the pull-off for the dam at Barker Reservoir. I drove by during the clean up stages, but it looked like it was mostly just a very scary crash and hopefully not fatal for the occupants.
It's partly cloudy and around 40F down here on the plains. It looks like they just got some flurries or maybe some light rain during the early morning hours. The strong band of showers seems to have rained itself out in Colorado and is making a quiet passage across Kansas this morning.
Looks like we'll have quiet weather this weekend. Our next chance for precipitation is Monday.
Updated: 5:19 PM GMT on March 18, 2011
Evacuations Lifted & Moisture Inbound
By: MrMixon, 7:14 AM GMT on March 13, 2011
The evacuations have been lifted for the Lefthand Fire and the fire is about 60% contained according to the U.S. Forest Service. Another fire near Button Rock Reservoir was also burning on Friday but this one is 100% contained.
There are some snow showers in the northern mountains of Colorado at the moment and rain down on the northern plains - strongest near the Wyoming-Colorado border. The burn areas should at least be getting some light snow or flurries. Here in Nederland we've gotten a few flurries, but no accumulation so far. I looks like the showers will stay mostly to our north tonight. Areas across the border near Cheyenne might pick up 8" of snow, though. Regardless, the higher humidity and relatively calm winds should help with the ongoing fire-fighting effort.
We may get a few more flurries tomorrow, but things clear up for the most part and it looks like our next best chance for precipitation isn't until Wednesday evening. I'm still holding out hope for a couple big spring snow storms, but so far March is shaping up to be on the dry side.
Updated: 7:22 AM GMT on March 13, 2011
Fire weather warning
By: MrMixon, 4:38 AM GMT on March 11, 2011
Low humidity and high winds in northeastern Colorado have lead to a fire weather warning until 6pm on Friday. The warning covers most of northeastern Colorado, though the greatest fire risk is for lower areas (mainly below 7500') and southern exposures which lack the snow cover to hinder a fire.
The warning area does include several towns above 7500', including Nederland. Besides Nederland, the warning covers the entire Denver metro area, Boulder, Fort Collins and the following mountain areas: Estes Park, Glendevey, the Laramie River Valley, Red Feather Lakes, Bailey, Central City, Evergreen, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, the northern Rampart Range, Tarryall, and Westcreek.
Link to a map of the area covered
The warning covers a fairly large area, but I think most of the mountain areas are secure from the threat of a major fire due to lingering snow cover. That said, some mountain valleys, many of the lower slopes (especially with southern exposure), and most plains areas are now mostly clean of snow and I could easily see a moderately-sized fire blowing up with the winds we've had.
Don't make the evening news people - put your butts in an ashtray.
Updated: 4:43 AM GMT on March 11, 2011
Sun and snow...
By: MrMixon, 7:46 PM GMT on March 09, 2011
We've got a mix of sun and snow up here again today. Yesterday's weather was nearly the same: relatively warm and alternating between sunny, cloudy, and flurries or light snow. There's a bit more sun and a bit more wind than yesterday.
This mixed weather is the last gasp of the low pressure system dumping rain and snow in the Midwest and Gulf States today. Our pressure bottomed out around 29.62 (in) very early on Tuesday morning and has been rising steadily since.
The departing system looks like it will bring significant precipitation for areas in the southeastern U.S. and New England, but it was a bit of a dud around here... Nederland got maybe 1 inch of snow on Sunday and that was about it.
The next low pressure system in the "train" is stalled off the coast of British Columbia will ultimately track too far north to affect us much here. The system behind that will come ashore near the Washington-Oregon border and track through Canada. This is too far north to bring us significant action, but we may see some snow in Nederland on Friday.
In between systems we're expecting a fair amount of wind, which means there's always the possibility of blowing snow and/or minor orographic showers, but any accumulation should be minor until at least Friday.
March can be one of the snowiest months in Boulder County. If a low pressure system tracks far enough south (if the "eye" of the system tracks through the Four Corners area it's usually perfect) we can easily get snow totals measured in feet.
I know a lot of folks start getting antsy for summer weather this time of year, but I've got my fingers crossed that one of the next few systems hits that sweet spot and gives the winter season a proper send-off.
Updated: 3:47 AM GMT on March 10, 2011
By: MrMixon, 6:56 PM GMT on March 03, 2011
I keep waiting until I have the time to put together the perfect first blog entry. Well, I've been waiting months now and I haven't found the time for perfection, so I'm gonna break the seal with mediocrity.
I have the great privilege of living in Nederland, Colorado, one of the coolest (and coldest) towns in the lower 48. Nederland is located at about 8,300 feet and is just a few miles east of the continental divide. I make my living down in Louisville, Colorado, a nice little Front Range town north of Denver and about 2,700 lower than my home in Ned.
Due to my current living/working arrangement, for better or worse, I drive through Boulder Creek Canyon nearly ten times a week. Front Range weather is notoriously changeable, and because my workplace and home have a difference in elevation of nearly ~2,700 feet, I see a lot of different weather each week.
We'll see if I keep it up, but my goal with this blog is to provide semi-regular, brief updates about Front Range weather, road conditions, and other things I find interesting enough to share.
Feel free to comment and add information if you're so inclined.