“While blazing wildfires throughout the central United States consume hundreds of homes and force thousands to flee into this weekend, a sizzling map captured by a NASA satellite only days before helps reveal why.
“In just eight days this month abnormal land surface temperatures within Colorado and the Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming regions have razed averages felt in the same period over the last 11 years according to the map released this week.
“Painting the central U.S. in red, the same area currently battling unrelenting wildfires, the map taken by NASA’s Terra satellite brandishes a depiction of what they politely call: ‘unusually hot weather.’”
dailymail: “Anomalies: This NASA provided map of land surface temperature anomalies for June 17 to 24, 2012 shows high (reds) and low (blue) temperatures compared to the average in the same eight day period between 2000-2011
“‘Land surface temperatures (LST) are distinct from the air temperatures that meteorological stations typically measure. LSTs indicate how hot the surface of the Earth would feel to the touch.
“‘High temperatures dry out vegetation and decrease the relative humidity, making it easier for fires to ignite and spread,’ NASA explained with their graphic.”
10,000 still displaced in raging Colorado wildfire – USATODAY.com – About 10,000 people remain evacuated, down from more than 30,000 at the fire’s peak. [...] Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire that broke out on June 23, and which so far has cost $8.8 million to battle. Dangerous conditions had kept them from beginning their inquiry.
HIGH PARK FIRE: (7:00 PM MT) – Containment is now 100%. Mop-up actions will continue on hotspots near the edge of the fire perimeter. Fire line rehabilitation is also still occurring.
COST TO DATE
WALDO CANYON FIRE: (9:00 PM MT) – The Waldo Canyon Fire is the most destructive in Colorado history, with 346 homes lost. Waldo Canyon started on June 23, three miles west of Colorado Springs. Three days later, on June 26, it exploded eastward toward the city, engulfing several neighborhoods. Evacuations peaked on June 27 at 32,000.
WALDO CANYON FIRE: Gains made as destruction tallied
On Majestic Drive, block after block of homes were leveled by Tuesday’s firestorm. Water streamed from broken and melted pipes. Burned-out cars sat in driveways, and smoke curled from Blodgett Peak to the north.
Here, President Barack Obama stopped Friday to shake firefighters’ hands and see the devastation wreaked on the Mountain Shadows neighborhood.
Obama asked the firefighters how they had protected three houses standing amid the rubble.
“You have a house that’s cinders. Next to it, it’s untouched,” the president said.
High Park Fire – June 23, 2012 – While flying overhead in space this weekend, NASA’s Terra satellite captured smoke and heat signatures from Colorado’s High Park Fire at 1815 UTC (2:15 p.m. EDT/12:15 MDT) on June 23, 2012.
Waldo Canyon Fire, Colorado — As of June 28, 2012, at least 300 homes have been destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, Colo., according to the Denver Post newspaper. NASA’s Aqua satellite flew overhead on June 26 and captured an image of the smoke plume as more evacuations continued.
Firefighting Planes Battle Wildfires And Old Age : NPR: As wildfires continue to burn in the West, the U.S. Forest Service is going to battle this summer with fewer air tankers. The number of planes that drop retardant on fires has shrunk significantly over the past 12 years. [...] In 2000, the Forest Service had contracts with private companies for 43 air tankers. Today, that number is nine.
[...] Jones says the Forest Service has appealed to Congress for funding for more tankers. “We are deeply committed to modernizing and improving our large air tanker fleet, and we’ve been taking a number of steps toward that goal,” she says. Two weeks ago, the Forest Service awarded contracts that will add a total of seven newer tankers this year and next. [...] But Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, is disappointed by the new contracts, which he sees as nothing more than a Band-Aid. ”This is a national security issue. It’s a public safety issue,” Hall says. “It’s one that demands national attention and national direction.”
… President Obama speaks to the American people from Colorado, where he toured areas impacted by the devastating Waldo Canyon fire and met with first responders as well as families affected by the fires. The President thanks the brave firefighters and countless volunteers who are providing food, water, and shelter to those in need, and makes clear that his administration will continue to bring all resources available to assist efforts to combat the fires.
VOA News: “President Barack Obama has issued a disaster declaration for (the western U.S. state of) Colorado, where he will travel Friday to survey the damage caused by a massive wildfire that has destroyed hundreds of homes and killed at least one person.
“Authorities say 346 homes have been destroyed since Tuesday, when the Waldo Canyon fire suddenly began raging out of control, forcing about 36,000 people in Colorado Springs, the state’s second largest city, to evacuate their homes. The city’s police chief told reporters Thursday that a body had been found in the debris of a burned out home where two people had been reported missing.
“Obama’s declaration makes federal disaster funds available to to assist people affected by the Waldo Canyon fire and another massive wildfire in northern Colorado that destroyed 257 homes and killed one woman earlier this month.”
CNN: Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said he welcomed the president’s visit. “I really appreciate the president coming here … if nothing more than just to reassure us that this a focus at a national level, that there are people all over this country who are concerned for our citizens and those who have lost their homes. And I do plan to ask for cash.”
The Waldo Canyon fire burns an entire neighborhood near the foothills of Colorado Springs. Colorado has endured nearly a week of 100-plus-degree days and low humidity creating a devastating formula for volatile wildfires across the state. (Photograph: Helen H Richardson/AP — Guardian)