A tale of two states
By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photo by Chris Michlewicz and courtesy of Julie Lamb
With plenty of precipitation across the Front Range, the area open spaces, hiking trails and paths have been lush with wildflowers and abundant green foliage – all of which contribute to Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) having not issued any fire restrictions (as of press time). All this moisture, however, can be misleading when looking at fire risks.
Eric Hurst, public information officer for South Metro Fire Rescue said, “While regular precipitation has helped Front Range grasses stay green this year, we are entering into a delicate time where fire danger can rise quickly. The moisture content in grass begins to dry out after just one hour with no precipitation. That means after every passing hour with no rain and low humidity, the fire danger keeps rising.”
According to the National Weather Service in Boulder, this year the Denver metro area has seen the most precipitation since the early to mid-1940s. However, “It’s a tale of two different states,” commented Hurst. More than 60% of the state is in a severe drought with multiple wildfires occurring from severe heat and lightning strikes that occurred over Father’s Day weekend. In fact some areas along the Western Slope have been upgraded to exceptional drought – the worst category from the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Last summer, the state saw two of its largest wildfires in Colorado history. They burned approximately 400,000 acres. While Douglas County watches and monitors conditions locally, the 2021 wildfire season is already indicating cause for concern as the summer progresses.
“We urge the community to follow their local fireworks ordinances and any fire restrictions that may get issued,” cautioned Hurst.