As parts of Hawaii brace for a foot of snow, and whole islands were under flash flood warnings due to heavy rain, Denver has yet to see snow this season as high temperatures and drought fuel late-season wildfires. Snow at high elevations in Hawaii is not itself uncommon though rare, but the contrast to Denver’s very unusual lack of snow is striking. Sixty-five weather stations across the U.S. from Roanoke, Va., to Billings, Mont., recorded record high temperatures last Thursday, the day after the West Wind Fire nearly destroyed the town of Denton, Mont. and other fires rage across the West.
The unusual weather is due in part to a La Niña cycle in the Pacific, but climate change, caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels is making extreme weather more frequent and severe. The weird weather weekend also comes as well over a month of torrential rain has submerged large swaths of British Columbia and new research shows mountain states in the West could be snowless for years at a time in as little as 35 years, auguring “potentially … catastrophic” impacts for the Western U.S. water system, as well as skiing.
(Weird Weather: NPR, Democracy Now; Denver: HuffPost; Hawaii: Washington Post $, AP, The Hill, New York Times $, CNN; Heat: AP, The Guardian; Fires: NPR, AP, Great Falls Tribune, Helena Independent Record, Montana Standard; Snowless mountains: Washington Post $; Skiing: New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Drought, 2021 Western wildfire season, Flooding, Extreme precipitation increase, Extreme heat and heatwaves)