27 June 2012

All Time Records Tumble in Rockies and Plains. Fires Threaten NCAR.

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Massive Fire in Colorado Springs. Image courtesy Nancy Barnes.

The massive heat wave spread from Montana to Louisiana Tuesday with several more all time record highs broken. Hill City, KS and McCook, Nebraska hit 46 degrees C or 115 degrees F. Both, the warmest temperatures ever recorded in those cities. Winds gusted to 40 mph at Denver International and all along the front range of Colorado in the afternoon. Lightning from thunderstorms sparked wildfires and they grew rapidly. The many dead trees from the Pine Beetle infestation likely had an effect in the fires spread, but how much??

The fires near Boulder threatened the National Centers For Atmospheric Research and the Mesa Lab had to be evacuated. Late word tonight is that over 32,000 people have been put under evacuation warnings in the Boulder Colorado Springs area. Winds are weakening tonight, and the fire near Boulder seems to be slowing down. Colorado Springs does not seem as lucky.

The heat will be moving eastward and late model guidance tonight is indicating that more all time record highs are on the way. Below are some images I grabbed this evening of the fires, and from the NWP models. Click to enlarge them, they pretty much tell the story…

Heat Index forecast for Saturday.

Max temps. today. Image from Penn State E-Wall

View of the Colorado Springs fire from the NWS Office in Pueblo,CO.

Now the bad news…the NWP forecast for Friday at 5 PM EDT:

In situations like this the model guidance will usually UNDERESTIMATE the temperatures.