Fire in the Woods

August 12, 2014

MatsPetersson1Overcast with a misty, damp fog this way-early Tuesday on California’s north coast, and the season continues — summer is about gone with fall casting a falling shadow on us all.

And for the northern part of the state, a ‘Red Flag Warning‘ due to the totally-ridiculous weather phenomena of storms with no rain: Dry thunderstorms are generated when enough moisture from the Gulfs of Mexico and California is drawn over an area to form stormy clouds at high levels of the atmosphere. But because the air below the clouds is still dry, most of the rain that falls evaporates before it can quench the parched landscape below. (via LiveScience)

The parched landscape below is California, where water, fire and rain don’t mix, but yet are thrown together in the same half-empty glass.

(Illustration: ‘Untitled,’ from the Firewatch series by Mats Pettersson, found here).

And these dry thunderstorms prove way-hazardous:

There have been more than 800 reported lightning strikes across Northern California that led to 34 more confirmed fires since Sunday, state fire spokesman Dennis Mathisen said Monday.
However, those new fires totaled less than 1 square mile, Mathisen added.
“We hope the lightning activity doesn’t produce any new larger fires,” he said.
“Typically, 95 percent of wildfires are caused by human activity, but when they’re caused by Mother Nature, there’s nothing you can do except to be prepared and try to keep them as small as possible.”

Operative word in that last paragraph is “try.” In most of the situations, the problem is landscape — these fires are in isolated, rugged country, which makes it tricky to fight. In the biggest fire in the western portion of the north, Lodge Lightning Complex Fire, located down in Mendocino County, has grown to 10,000 acres, but only about 40 percent contained.
The good news, however, is an Evacuation Order issued this weekend by Cal Fire for some sections of the fire zone, was downgraded Monday evening to an Evacuation Warning — a good sign, if nothing else.
A good, longtime friend lives right on the southern edge of the fire, but is hanging in there.

The bad news is that although the original Red Flag Warning didn’t include Mendocino County, yesterday was expanded to cover the area: There is a danger of dry lightning strikes and gusty winds up to 40 mph. These strong winds could result in extreme fire behavior should lightning ignite a fire and, of course, for any current fire.

And on we go.

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