Climate change ravaged the West with heat and drought last year. Will 2021 be worse?
If there were any doubts that the climate is changing in the Colorado River Basin, 2020 went a long way toward dispelling them, thanks to yet another year of extreme weather.
Unprecedented wildfires, deadly heatwaves, withering drought — the many indicators of the climate mayhem that scientists have been warning about for years — ravaged the landscape, claiming dozens of lives and causing billions of dollars in damage.
Colorado endured an unprecedented wildfire season. And so did California, in some cases burning where the wounds were still fresh from the epic fires of 2018. Utah experienced its driest year ever, and persistent high temperatures killed more people in Arizona than ever before. Monsoon rains that typically bring relief throughout the region were a no-show for the second summer in a row and now are being called the “non-soon.”
And, although the final climate data for 2020 just arrived and the new year is just weeks old, forecasters are already filled with apprehension about what lies ahead for the West this year.
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