February 18, 2014--Uncertainty a big hurdle in Colorado climate planning (Kitsap Sun)

There has been no subtlety to Colorado’s struggle with extreme weather in a changing climate the past 2 years. Wildfires, drought and floods along the state’s Front Range urban corridor from Colorado Springs north to Fort Collins brought images of scorched homes, washed out highways and submerged oil fields to TV screens worldwide. The scope of the natural disasters has been devastating. In 2012, during one of the heights of a dry spell that has ravaged the state since 2002, the High Park Fire scorched more than 87,000 acres of foothills near Fort Collins, the state's fourth-largest city. The 18,200-acre Waldo Canyon Fire soon followed, turning Colorado Springs, the state's second-largest city, into a disaster zone. And in 2013, the 14,280-acre Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs became the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. Then came 2013’s “Biblical” floods and rains in September that destroyed more than 1,500 homes and damaged 19,000 others in the foothills and plains around Denver, Boulder and Greeley, killing eight people and submerging entire towns and oil and gas fields. Coloradans got the message: It doesn't matter if they live in cities, suburbs or rural areas, they’re vulnerable to extreme weather and livelihood-consuming infernos. And climate change could make these disasters worse, fueling bigger and more frequent flooding and wildfires while possibly extending the severity of the state's drought and making its water supply less secure. Climate change’s effects will be felt across the U.S., and Colorado is no exception. Charleston, S.C., for example, could see up to 5 feet of sea level rise along its exposed coastline by the end of the century. Changes in snowfall and snowpack melt patterns as tempratures rise could threaten the water supplies of numerous Southwestern cities that depend on the Colorado River for drinking water. Extreme weather and greater exposure to hurricane storm surge could become a regular threat to New York City and the New Jersey coastline, which are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

To view the full article visit the Kitsap Sun. For a copy of the original article stop by or write the Water Information Program at 841 East Second Avenue, Durango, CO 81301 or call (970) 247-1302.