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More frequent extreme weather events on the horizon, Colorado climate experts say

More frequent extreme weather events on the horizon, Colorado climate experts say
More frequent extreme weather events on the horizon, Colorado climate experts say 02:50

A barrage of devastating weather events this summer, including the wildfires on Maui and in Canada, and now Hurricane Hilary, are just more examples of a continuing trend toward increased extreme weather events, climate experts say.

Across the U.S. and in Colorado, climatologists say destructive, unusual weather is going to get more frequent.

Greg Heavener, a warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, says climate change has caused wildfires in Colorado to no longer be seasonal, but rather a year-round threat. 

"So basically, we're widening the goalposts as far as what extreme weather really is based off of our climate changing, and so we're asking folks to obviously be prepared through any season here in Colorado," Heavener said. "When it comes to winter storms, or wildfires, or flash flooding, it's that some of those wildfires will be bigger, the flash floods will happen quicker, and the water could be deeper, and the storms that we're getting, thunderstorms wise, can you produce larger hail and more frequent lightning as well, too. So just the entire gambit of impacts to our daily lives."

Assistant state climatologist Becky Bolinger, who works for the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, agrees. 

"You're going to have extreme events all the time, but when you add the climate change component, you're kind of giving the atmosphere a little jolt of steroids there, and powering it up just a little bit more, and increasing the likelihood of more extreme events," Bolinger said. 


That's why she says it's important that we take action to be better equipped for these events in the future.

"Think of what we were doing in Colorado this year based on what we learned from the Marshall fire. People are putting out goats and they're grazing on these tall grasses, because if you have tall grasses and then they dry out, that's going to provide the fuel to for a quickly growing grass fire. So even little things like that are going to help reduce the destructive nature," she said. "I think that other important things are going to happen, particularly with electric companies, and how they respond to warnings, and where we have power lines is obviously a big concern in these wildfire prone areas."

She says while it will take time to reverse climate change effects, it's also important that we do our part to be kinder to our atmosphere, and reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gases emitted into the air that contribute to climate change. 


"It's kind of like a really big train, and you know you can stop it, but it takes some time to stop, and so even if we did absolutely everything right, starting right now and completely reverse how we do things, we're still going to be experiencing the impacts of warming, and that warming is likely to continue for a little bit longer," Bolinger said. "I certainly support the idea of mitigation and moving more towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, trying to bring that level of greenhouse gases that we're putting into the atmosphere. We need to bring that down and reverse it a little bit."

In the meantime, Bolinger and Heavener say it's critical to get prepared for the worst, like making sure you are signed up for notifications from your local emergency agency, and your homeowners insurance is up to date. 

"We really urge folks to have numerous ways to receive those watches and warnings, to again protect themselves as well as their families," Heavener said. 

If you're looking for more advice from the experts, check out some weather resources from the NWS by clicking here

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