Aug 17, 2022 - News

Needed moisture in Colorado lowers risk of wildfires

Map courtesy of U.S. Drought Monitor

As fall fast approaches and downpours persist, it appears the smoky summer Coloradans have been bracing for may not come.

Why it matters: Coloradans — and the nature spots they love — could use a break.

  • The state has yet to recover from wildfires that have ravaged its wilderness over the last two years, forcing evacuations, destroying homes and upending thousands of lives.

Driving the news: Boulder County — the site of a deadly blaze last December — lifted its fire restrictions Tuesday, thanks in large part to moisture conditions and longterm forecasts, officials announced.

  • Meanwhile, Glenwood Canyon — home to the massive Grizzly Creek Fire in 2020 — continues to see mudslides and road closures due to monsoonal moisture.
  • Strong storms have also been notable this summer in Denver and Broomfield — the latter of which is up 25% of its average annual rainfall, 9News reports.

The big picture: Colorado officials warned that this year could be one of the worst for wildfires in state history, but a recent surge in much-needed rainfall is easing those concerns.

  • 58% of the state is experiencing moderate to "exceptional" drought, compared to nearly 90% in April, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
  • The rest of the country hasn't been so lucky. At least 53 large wildfires were burning at the start of August, Axios' Rebecca Falconer writes.

Yes, but: 5% of the state — particularly in the far southwest and northeast pockets — remains in "extreme" to "exceptional" drought.

  • And several Colorado cities, including Denver, are reporting abnormally high temperatures this month.

What they're saying: "Our risk is really going to be based on when that moisture machine is going to shut off and how long of a period we have where conditions are dry and how warm we are," Becky Bollinger of the Colorado Climate Center told the Denver Post.

  • "If we go into September and it’s just an extension of summer where it’s really hot, then we’re going to start looking at that risk again," she noted.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more