Fog and Fire

August 15, 2016

california fire-natoDeep, moist gray this early Monday on California’s north coast as our daily pattern of marine-fog continues, a situation pretty-much summed-up on WunderBlog‘s weather thingy: ‘Today is forecast to be nearly the same temperature as yesterday.’
And most-likely, all the other environmental-ingredients as well, too.

Although damp here, in Lake County this morning, the so-named Clayton Fire, located in Lower Lake, ‘…continued to burn virtually out of control…‘ and horribly-coincidental, last year’s Valley Fire happened only 15 miles to the south.
Marin County sheriff’s spokesman, Lt. Doug Pittman: ‘“What I witnessed here today was the exact same thing, but the only difference was that it was in broad daylight. If you were to stand on Main Street here in Lower Lake and turn in a circle, the devastation would be exactly the same as the devastation you saw in Middletown last year.”

(Illustration: A ‘Firenado,’ found here).

So far, Lake County’s latest forest inferno has consumed 3,000 acres and 100 homes (SFGate):

The Clayton Fire started Saturday and accelerated Sunday as wind-whipped flames swept through historic downtown Lower Lake, jumping from street to street and leveling everything in its path.
The charred shells of cars were left in driveways of homes that were completely destroyed, and toppled power lines and trees were still smoldering throughout the community.

Despite the activity, California’s fire season is about ‘normal,’ what could be called normal nowadays — at the nearly-halfway point in 2016, 4,446 fires have already burned almost 218,000 acres; at the end of last year, 8,745 wildfires had claimed more than 893,000 acres. (KQED).
However, going further and into the dry of southern California, with the likes of the ‘apocalyptic‘ Sand Fire, which last month burned through 38,000 acres in the Santa Clarita Valley, forcing evacuation from more than 10,000 homes.
And the air…

These wildfire events exacerbated by climate change will unleash high levels of pollution, according to a new Yale-led study conducted with collaborators from Harvard.
An upcoming experience of “smoke waves,” or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.
From Phys.org this morning:

The regions likely to receive the highest exposure to wildfire smoke in the future include northern California, western Oregon, and the Great Plains.
Their results, published in the journal Climatic Change, point to the need for new or modified wildfire management and evacuation programs in the nation’s high-risk regions, said Jia Coco Liu, a recent Ph.D. graduate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and lead author of the study.
“Our study illustrates that smoke waves are likely to be longer, more intense, and more frequent under climate change,” Liu said.
“This raises critical health, ecological, and economic concerns. Identifying communities that will be most affected in the future will inform development of fire management strategies and disaster preparedness programs.”

And related, and not-pretty either — from the Guardian yesterday:

But generally, Di Lorenzo says, looking at what is happening, he thinks climate change is increasing both the frequency and severity of marine heatwaves.
So much so, he wonders if climate models are wrong, and underestimating the fluctuations in temperature that will occur as the globe warms.
“The real system – if you look at the observations, and this is a paper I will publish very soon — the increase in variance is much much stronger than what models are predicting,” he says.
“Maybe our models are too conservative.”

And maybe we should really get worried…

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