Summer in Western U.S. is off to a hot, dry, fiery start

In Western states, wildfires and heat waves are getting an early start this year — a pattern unsurprising to climate scientists, and likely to get worse. Wildfires have already burned more than 3 million acres, more than triple the average for this time of year. Meanwhile, a recent Denver heat wave was the earliest of the year since recordkeeping began in 1872; the federal Climate Prediction Center predicts above-average temperatures for Colorado through September. According to a 2004 study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the number of heat waves per summer could double by the end of the century. “It appears that global warming is an issue that is not going to subside or go away anytime soon. What we thought was the anomaly will soon become the rule,” says Mat Fratus of the San Bernardino City Fire Department. Dude, we could have told you that.