Group warns about more extreme weather in Colorado

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DENVER -- It has been a year of extreme weather in Colorado. From one of the biggest snow storms Denver has ever seen in February, to the fire season sparked by extreme drought and record heat.

Now there's a new warning that this could be just the beginning and we're in for a long cycle of extreme weather behavior.

In fact the Environment Colorado Research and Policy group says its study of climate data shows the wild weather swings are going to get worse.

Colorado has struggled through one of the worst heat, drought and wildfire summers on record. That's on the heels of a winter of record low snowpack.

The new report from Environment Colorado blames our wild weather swings on the consequences of rapid climate change.

"The exact same phenomena that that is creating this drought is actually what's leading to not overall precipitation but these extreme storms," says Bessie Schwarz fo the Environment Colorado Research Center.

The group says analysis of 65 years worth of data  shows extreme rain and snow events increased in Colorado by 25 percent.

"This trend is only going to increase, we'll only become more vulnerable from these extreme storms," Schwarz says.

FOX31 Denver Chief Meteorologist Dave Fraser says that may be a stretch. "Our weather is cyclical so we see things happening in ten year cycles, 20, 50  and 100 year cycles, so the threat of heavy rain and heavy snow while it may be possible in the study, we certainly haven't seen it this year."

The group says its study concludes a warmer climate leads to bigger storms and blistering droughts.

"It's going to affect our tourism industry, it's going to affect our crop yields, it's going to affect our drinking water," Schwarz says.

The study calls on federal and state governments to adopt stricter limits on carbon pollutants... to reduce those emissions at least 85 percent by 2050.

Environment Colorado says the Environmental Protection Agency is on the right track with new rules on improved auto efficiency standards of 54.6 miles per gallon, and tighter control of coal plant carbon emissions. The group says those are the two largest contributors to greenhouse gases.







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