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Denver and much of the metro area now in extreme drought

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Denver and much of the metro area now in extreme drought

Denver alongside parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson and Weld counties are now all considered to be in an extreme drought, according to fresh data from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

The center, based out of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, updated Colorado’s drought map this week to indicate that much of the state sunk deeper into drought. That means increased wildfire risk and worsening conditions for pasture, cropland and livestock.

National Drought Mitigation Center

The latest data from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows worsening drought conditions across the state, especially in and around Denver.

“We can probably call it a heat wave,” Russ Schumacher, a climatologist with Colorado State University and director of the Colorado Climate Center, said. “It’s much much above normal for early December, not just in Colorado but across a big swathe of the country.”

Currently 38% of the state is in severe drought and 14.34% of the state is in extreme drought, up from 32% and 8.75%, last week, respectively, the drought map shows. The rest of the state varies between moderate drought and abnormally dry. Less than 5% of the state is not classified as in a drought, though those portions are still categorized as abnormally dry.

The worsening drought comes as Denver not only continues to set the record for how long the city has gone without its first measurable snow (the previous record was Nov. 21, 1934), ending the ninth driest November on record. Plus, the city tied its high temperatures for Dec. 1.

Higher temperatures exacerbate the already dry conditions, according to Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information.

“You’re getting a lot of evaporation of moisture out of the ground,” Heim, who also authored Colorado’s latest drought statistics, said.

Aside from the more immediate risk of wildfires, the worsening drought also means Colorado’s snowpack levels are lagging further behind normal levels. Therein lies the bigger concern, Schumacher said.

“We should be building up the snowpack right now but instead we’re flat or getting worse,” he said.

Data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service shows that snowpack around Alamosa sits at 36% of normal levels, down 1% from last week. Snowpack around Durango decreased by the same amount and now sits at 33% of normal levels.

Snowpack further north worsened even more with levels around Ouray and Gunnison at 53% of normal, down from 61% last week. And snowpack around Aspen and Glenwood Springs is now 63% of normal, down from 72% last week.

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

Becky Hammon said she has always followed her heart and not worried about what other people think of her career decisions.

There were concerns when she chose to play at Colorado State instead of a bigger school. There was backlash about her playing for Russia in the Olympics and now she has heard rumblings about leaving the NBA and coach the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

“My heart was saying it was time to go. This is where I am supposed to be right now,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “There were a lot of sleepless nights getting to this conclusion.”

She spent eight years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs becoming the first fulltime female coach in NBA history. She learned from one of the NBA’s best in Gregg Popovich and now feels it is time to for a different path, so she pivoted to the WNBA, where she played for many years.

“Las Vegas sees me as a head coach now,” she said. “The WNBA has called every year with job openings. … I’ve always said thank you I’m very flattered, but stayed on this path. This was first time where I was like I’ll listen.” ”

She’s proud of her still–being-written legacy as a trailblazer, having interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs. But for now, her dream of becoming the first woman to lead an NBA team is on hold.

“Women are getting hired in all sorts of positions now. Not just the NBA, but across professional sports leagues,” she said. “For anyone to say the needle hasn’t moved is wrong. The process (interviewing) in Portland moved the needle. It was a great process for me.”

Hammon has heard the outside noise that taking the WNBA job is a step down and she takes umbrage with any who believes it.

“I think it’s an ignorant statement. To think I’ve outgrown the WNBA in a coaching capacity is ridiculous,” she said. “I’d rather be a coach in the WNBA and have my own organization and be running a team.”

There are still a half dozen women assistant coaches in the NBA. Hammon’s resume jas earned her plenty of respect: A person familiar with her contract says she will be the WNBA’s highest-paid coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the deal has not been publicly announced, and they are still unclear.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a head coaching job at that level.,” Popovich said. “To prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run. She’s interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA, and she’s more than qualified and would have done a great job.”

Hammon will be pulling double-duty for the next few months until the Spurs’ season is over. One of the first things that she’ll have to do is hire her own coaching staff. She’s begun calling Aces’ players to get to know them.

“Right now I’m reaching out to all the players on the roster,” she said. “Establish a relationship with them and talk a little bit about roles what we’re doing offensively and defensively.”

The Aces finished with the second-best record in the WNBA last season at 24-8 before falling to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. The franchise, looking for its first WNBA title, has a solid core led by former MVP A’ja Wilson.

Hammon was coy about what her on-court philosophy will be, only saying that the team which was last in 3-pointers attempted will definitely shoot more this season. The 44-year-old former WNBA player says she just wants to coach for now and not worry about being the team’s general manager.

“Down the road we’ll talk. I just want to coach. That’s it. Get out there, get with the players,” Hammon said. “Get in the foxhole with each other.”

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

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Avalanche’s Nazem Kadri, former DU star Troy Terry voted to NHL All-Star Game

Avalanche center Nazem Kadri is headed to his first NHL All-Star Game. So is Colorado native and former Denver Pioneers standout Troy Terry.

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

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DIA sets new record for the number of guns seized at airport security

Denver International Airport ranked sixth nationally in 2021 for the number of firearms seized by TSA agents at security checkpoints, the Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday.

In 2021, agents found 141 firearms in travelers carry-on luggage, more than any year since 2018, according to TSA data. Nationally, 5,972 guns were seized at airport security checkpoints. The 141 guns seized set a new record at the Denver airport, the TSA said in a news release.

“As the data suggests, travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage is not new and we have now reached an unacceptable level of carelessness by gun owners. Simply stated, one gun in carry-on luggage is one too many,” TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau said in a news release.

Still, the percentage of passengers trying to bring guns onto airplanes is small.

Security agents at DIA screened approximately 18.3 million departing passengers and crew in 2021, making it the sixth busiest airport for TSA security checkpoint screening operations. That is a 72% increase in passenger traffic over 2020, a year where air travel was marred by the coronavirus pandemic.

The airports with the most firearms seized at security in 2021 are:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport , 507
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, 317
  • Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 245
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, 196
  • Nashville International Airport, 163.

Travelers caught with firearms at an airport security checkpoint face criminal and civil penalties. Even those with concealed carry permits must check their unloaded weapons in a hard-sided case.

For more information on carrying firearms on an airplane, visit https://www.tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition.

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