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Latest US drought map and Colorado fires

We are long overdue to catch up on the map of the Palmer Drought Severity Index.  Above is the version for June 23rd.  As you can see, much of the interior west is in extreme drought conditions, and has also been suffering a record breaking heat-wave (even though it's not the height of summer yet):

Record highs continue to fall Tuesday afternoon in the central U.S., where Denver, Colorado had its fifth consecutive day of triple-digit heat after it reached 100°F at 1pm MDT, and could continue to rise this afternoon. This ties the all-time record for consecutive 100°F+ days. Nebraska and Kansas are particularly toasty this afternoon; McCook, Nebraska has reached 113°F so far, and Hill City, Kansas is up to 112°F. Though, to put that in perspective, the state record for Nebraska is 118°F, and the state record for Kansas is 121°F.

The heat moves east tomorrow, and by Thursday, many of the major Midwest cities are forecast to be in the triple-digits, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis.

The consequences are ugly:

A wildfire raging near some of Colorado's most popular tourist sites grew suddenly more ferocious on Tuesday, forcing 32,000 people from their homes, prompting evacuations from the U.S. Air Force Academy and swallowing numerous houses at the edge of Colorado Springs.

The fire was "shaping up as one of the biggest disasters in Colorado history," the Denver Post reported.

From the vantage point of a command post about 10 miles from the path of advancing flames, the entire community of Mountain Shadows, a northwest subdivision of Colorado Springs, appeared to be enveloped in an orange glow after dark.

"This is a fire of epic proportions," Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown told Reuters as ash drifted down on the city, sirens wailed and the thick smell of smoke permeated the air.

The stubborn and towering wildfire had jumped firefighters' perimeter lines in the hills overlooking Colorado Springs.

"We have homes burning right now," El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said Tuesday night, according to the Denver Post.

The sheriff was among those forced from home by the fire, the newspaper added.

"It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine," Gov. John Hickenlooper said after flying over the 9-square-mile fire late Tuesday. "It's almost surreal. You look at that, and it's like nothing I've seen before."

There are also fires threatening Boulder and (recently) Fort Collins.  My heart goes out to those suffering in these disasters.

Still, it would be remiss not to remind readers of this map from the report Global Climate Change: Impacts in the United States

It shows the number of days over 100oF expected in the later part of this century under business-as-usual carbon emissions.

What is happening in Colorado Springs at present, and what happened to Texas last summer, is going to happen to most of the country in coming decades.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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