, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

While the attention of everyone is turned towards the latest gun violence in America, the unprecedented flooding in Colorado speaks of a future of fire and flood which will cause untold damage and death as industrial civilization continues to employ its vast army of CO2-belching fossil fuel slaves. There’s no escaping climate chaos, whether you live on the coast or high atop a mountain in the middle of the country. The latest Colorado floods have reportedly damaged or destroyed 19,000 homes with 8 people confirmed dead so far and well over 1,000 persons unaccounted for as of today. Fracking wells are also leaking into the flooded waters.

You may be asking yourself how the Southwest is experiencing such floods when it has been in a mega-drought for the last quarter century. As the planet heats up from mankind’s greenhouse gases, evaporation increases. Higher temperatures effectively pump more energy into the atmosphere and intensify the hydrologic cycle of the planet. The moisture holding capacity of the atmosphere also increases with higher temperatures. Extremes of drought and flood are the end result, although it is believed by the end of the century that the effects of higher temperatures on evaporation are expected to outweigh precipitation, leading to drought becoming the more common climate condition. A hotter planet(milder winters and longer summers) also diminishes snowpack leading to less soil moisture and drier conditions which are at greater risk of drought, heat waves, and wild fires.

In Colorado, the recent floods were made worse by that state’s mega-fires which destroyed the plant life on the ground. The suppression of fires by man over the last century has also disrupted natural cycles, causing forests to become overgrown and dense. Drought-stressed trees have succumbed to bark beetle infestation and early snowmelt has fed the growth of underbrush to produce a tinderbox of fuel for monster infernos. A scorched landscape with no trees, bushes, and vegetation to hold in moisture allows the rainwater to simply flow unimpeded down the mountain slopes, quickly eroding the soil. The unparalleled amount of rainfall also overwhelms the Earth’s ability to absorb it. The graph below illustrates how remarkable the current flooding is. This graph is from one particular weather station in Boulder that has recorded daily precipitation over the last 120 years. Each red cross represents the amount of rainfall in a day and it is plotted according to how often that amount occurs over a given expanse of time from 1 to 10,000 years. Only a few measurements fall past the 10 year occurrence rate, while the amount of rain that fell one day this past week (120 millimeters or 4.8 inches) at this particular station is seen way above and beyond anything else recorded since 1893. Note that yesterday(Monday) Boulder Colorado hit 30.14 inches of annual rainfall which breaks the previous single year record set in 1995 of 29.93 inches. And the year is not yet over.


NOAA satellite image from the evening of September 11, 2013 showing the devastating storm system bearing down on Colorado:flood-warnings-colorado

What caused this massive weather pattern pictured above that brought such a deluge to Colorado? It’s another storm system produced by a mangled jet stream as a result of a melting Arctic.

From Quartz:

A blocking pattern has set up over the western United States, drawing a conveyor belt of tropical moisture north from coastal Mexico. Blocking patterns form when the jet stream slows to a crawl, and weather patterns get stuck in place. When all that warm, wet air hit the Rocky Mountains, it had nowhere to go but up, pushed further skyward by the mountains themselves. By some measurements, the atmosphere at the time of the heaviest rains was among the most soaked it has ever been in Colorado…

Why it will keep happening: Blocking patterns are fertile ground for extreme weather. A blocking pattern near Greenland was also to blame for steering Superstorm Sandy toward the east coast of the United States last fall. Persistent high pressure this year in the western United States has led to what is (so far) California’s driest year on record. That, in turn, fueled last month’s massive Rim Fire in Yosemite National Park, which grew to a size larger than New York City.

Big Thompson Canyon, Colorado Before (top) and After (bottom):


This sort of extreme weather is on the rise:

Historic, “unbelievable” rainfall in New Mexico on Thursday caused flooding in areas that typically have little to no flow at this time of year. An area in the Guadalupe Mountains received 11 inches in a 24-hour period. The state has been grappling with intense drought in 2013, and riverbeds that are usually dry have become treacherous. Carlsbad Caverns National Park closed on Thursday because of the flooding…

…Extreme rainfall events have become more frequent across the U.S. during the past several decades in part due to manmade global warming. Increasing air and ocean temperatures mean that the air is generally carrying more water vapor than it used to, and this moisture can be tapped by storm systems to yield rain or snow extremes. Trends in extreme precipitation events vary by region, though, and in general the biggest increases have taken place in the Midwest and Northeast. However, most parts of the U.S. have seen an increase in extreme precipitation events, according to the draft National Climate Assessment report that was released this past January. The report goes on to note that in the future, “increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for most U.S. areas.

And we can see what damage this extreme weather is causing to the electric grid:



The global picture of weather disasters shows an upward trend according to Munich RE, one of the largest reinsurers in the world:


With all the evidence of climate chaos piling up daily, I’m having a hard time taking seriously a species that calls itself wise, yet worries more about things like erectile dysfunction and breast implants rather than the quickly fading habitability of planet Earth. We are blind to our own self-destruction.