In Texas, Raging Fire has Climate Connection

March 20, 2022

Some commonalities between the wildfire currently burning in Central Texas, which in recent days, incidentally, destroyed the all too aptly named town of Carbon, – and the blowtorch catastrophe that hit Boulder County Colorado in December, the subject of the video above.
Below, scan down to the Washington Post’s account from Texas Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon, and compare to what Colorado Deputy Climatologist Becky Bolinger told me in January, posted below as well.

Extremes of wet, leading to lush growth of vegetation, grass and underbrush, followed by extreme dry, making all that fuel super-combustible, add in the expected strong spring winds, (or December winds, as it was on the Colorado front range) and a spark.

UPDATE:

Fires still raging, now classed as seven separate fires. Video below illustrates windy conditions.

Washington Post:

The Eastland Complex fire — made up of three smaller wild fires in Central Texas — has incinerated more than 45,000 acres of land since sparking Thursday, destroying hundreds of homes and killing a deputy sheriff who was helping evacuate residents. Deputy Sgt. Barbara Fenley, 51, was evacuating homes in Carbon, the Eastland County Sheriff’s Office said, when, due to poor visibility and deteriorating conditions, she steered her vehicle off the road and into flames.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) declared a disaster in 11 counties affected by the blaze. Smoke on Friday drifted into skies above Houston, some 300 miles away. Only 15 percent of the fire was contained as of Saturday afternoon, officials said.

And conditions could worsen. Large swaths of Texas — from the Dallas and Fort Worth suburbs in the east to Lubbock in the north and Odessa and Midland in the west — are suffering extreme drought conditions. Meteorological officials expect winds from the arid southwest to kick up Sunday and Monday, fueling the fire’s spread.

The National Weather Service on Saturday posted a “critical” fire weather outlook for nearly all of West Texas, half of New Mexico, and parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.

“When it’s as dry as it is out here and as windy as it is, that really allows that fire to spread, and that’s what we’ve seen with the Eastland Complex,” Adam Wiley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service field office in San Angelo, Tex., told The Washington Post.

Rapidly warming temperatures around the globe threaten to exacerbate wild fires, international climate experts say, lengthening fire seasons and making the blazes more harmful.

Researchers and meteorologists in Texas have worried about spring and summer fires for months after the Lone Star State experienced one of its driest and warmest summers on record, developments closely linked with global warming.

Temperatures in December in Texas averaged 5 to 12 degrees above normal, experts at Texas A&M University found, worsening the state’s drought and setting the stage for a catastrophic fire season.

Meanwhile, said John Nielsen-Gammon, a Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professor, rainfall in Central Texas has increased by 10 percent over the past century, and the last six months of 2021 were wetter than usual.

Both developments, he said, are caused by rising global temperatures, which intensify storms during some seasons, then parch the landscape during others.

The result, he said, was that the grasses and bushes that fuel wildfires grew larger during the summer and fall, then dried out over the winter. Now those parched plants are acting as kindling to the Eastland Complex blaze.

Rain is becoming more intense and erratic, which allows for greater periods for things to dry out,” Nielsen-Gammon said. “The scientists that have looked at it carefully say we’ll have increased likelihood of wildfire throughout Texas, especially in central and East Texas. It’s possible that in west Texas the drier climate may limit the amount of plant growth, leading to less fuel to burn. But in the wetter parts of Texas, there will be more fuel, and things will dry out more rapidly.”

Most recent reports note that a Sheriff’s deputy has died while working to evacuate residents, and crews are making some progress containing the Texas fire.

3 Responses to “In Texas, Raging Fire has Climate Connection”

  1. J4Zonian Says:

    First thing I think is how great it is that they’re finally talking about reality. Second thing is, ya gotta wonder why it took weather boys and girls 40 fucking years to find the brains and courage to start to say why things are happening.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      What took so long? It might have something to do with getting fired.

      Also, there is the problem that some meteorologists (like Joe Bastardi) never understood the crucial difference between weather and climate, and thought that expertise in the first meant expertise in the latter.

      • Keith Omelvena Says:

        I don’t think you have the measure of the aptly named Bastardi. It’s not that he didn’t understand, it’s that he is a right wing nut job, who would deliberately sell out life on Earth for his pathetic ideology. Human scum!


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