2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Colorado fires and Canadian flooding–connected?

    Fri, July 12, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The short answer is: Yes, and no.

    This morning, I read in the “Rocky Mountain Outlook” an article that connected Colorado’s June wildfires to massive flooding in the Canadian province of Alberta. It seemed a bit far-fetched, but intriguing.

    Colorado fires themselves did not contribute to Alberta flooding, but both were (ironically) caused by the same weather system, said Dr. John Pomeroy, director of the University of Saskatchewan’s hydrology department.

    Here’s what happened:

    In early June, as the Black Forest fire was raging just outside of Colorado Springs, a high-pressure cell was over Colorado, making conditions hot and dry–prime weather for a firestorm.

    “When you get a high pressure cell, it’s very dry air and it tends to be sunny, then you have warm and dry conditions,” Pomeroy explained. “When you get in a long term drought it’s often high pressure for a long time.”

    This cell moved north, and right around the Montana/Alberta border it became trapped in the Rockies, where it rose, cooled, and eventually moved into Alberta, where it dumped the moisture it had collected from Colorado. This effect is called a “cold low.”

    While Colorado was desperate for rain, Alberta was desperate to get out of it.

    “It was raining an inch an hour for quite a while,” Pomeroy said. “The total rainfall was 10 inches over two days. Then we had snow-melt that contributed to another 10 inches of water.”

    It was also cold in Canada–towards the end of the rain-burst,  the storm turned into snow.

    “The moisture was actually getting suck out of Colorado,” Pomeroy added. “So it was the moisture that you would have liked to have had.”

    Cold lows are typically what cause flash-flooding in Colorado in the  summer, when the monsoonal flow becomes trapped in the mountains, and ultimately have all their moisture squeeze out of them. This storm set up was hovering over Colorado in June, but “it was probably pushed out by  the high pressure cell” that was adding heat and dryness to fires, Pomeroy said.

    “It was kind of strange that it moved this far more.,” Pomeroy said of the storm. “We were getting Colorado’s weather.”






  • Keep sending us your Waldo Scrapbook submissions!

    Wed, June 5, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Shauna Hoey, a resident of Parkside, sent us a series of poems and songs about her home, which she lost during the Waldo Canyon fire.

    Here’s one of Shauna’s songs:

    Mountain Shadows Prayer

    The trees tell the story of a fire roaring through.  Beautiful trees once standing now skeletons remain.

    Ribbon of Your presence, come to this place.  Find Your way through the ashes to touch this parched place.  Touch each pile of rubble with your sweet embrace.  Bring beauty from the ashes.  Let it be a song of grace. 

    We are broken hearted, torn from so much loss.  As we sift through the ashes and stand upon this loss.   Staring at the rubble, nothing to say, searching for a treasure does anything remain?

    Ribbon of your presence, wind your way around our hearts, for our emptiness screams anguish as we reach to touch what’s lost.  May the memories that haunt us turn to treasures to hold dear. 

    We are broken hearted, seared from so much grief.  As we begin a chapter of building something new, excavate the darkness and heal our hearts anew. 

    Ribbon of your presence as you restore this broken place, may the beauty from the ashes be the song to declare Your grace.

    Shauna Hoey    2012           

    We already have several great photos from local photographers and Mountain Shadows residents commemorating the fire. Here’s what we’re looking for:

    Be a part of The Gazette’s special coverage of the Waldo Canyon fire anniversary, and share with us your memories of the fire that changed our community.

    We are putting together a Waldo Scrapbook to post on our website. We want your photos, videos, short written memories — anything that commemorates your experience of the fire.

    The scrapbook is open to anyone with thoughts or memories to share. Please send your scrapbook submissions to waldo@gazette.com. Give us your name, where you live, and a few sentences that explain what you sent and why.

  • We’re still in a drought. What’s new?

    Thu, May 16, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Every Thursday, the National Drought Mitigation Center (yes, it exists) issues a nationwide drought wrap-up. And…El Paso County is still in the red.

    Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 3.12.48 PM

    Today’s drought prognosis is still pretty grim for  the rest Colorado, although much of the state benefited from two weeks of recent rains. But, southeastern Colorado including El Paso County, are turning out to be problem zones.

    El Paso County is on the fringes of the red zone–which means most of the county is in an extreme drought, the second-to-worst level.

    (In case you’re not sure which county is El Paso, this should help you out.)

    Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 3.15.40 PM

       Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 3.16.34 PM

  • “Fire News” needs a name

    Thu, May 9, 2013 by Ryan Handy with 1 comment

    I’ve been blogging under “Fire News” for three months (roughly) and frankly, the blog title is a disaster.

    We in the newsroom brainstormed some new names today, but I can’t quite decide which one is the right fit. Then again, naming a blog that focuses on “disaster recovery and aftermath” (with some wildfire tossed in) is no easy task.

    Here’s what we came up with–any favorites? Shoot me an email at ryan.handy@gazette.com and let me know which one you like best. Or, if you’ve got a better idea.

    Harbinger of Doom

    Master of Disaster

    Looming Danger

    Colorado Calamities

    The Mitigator (get it? as in..fire mitigation…)

    Chicken Little

    Survival Kit

    Stop,  Drop and Scroll

    Gimme Shelter

    Doomsday Scenario

    Fire and Rain

    And from Twitter and email I got these suggestions, a little more fire-centric:

    Hot Springs

    That Burning Sensation

    Inflammable Nation

    Ash Dispatches


    Conflagration Report