Wednesday, July 1, 2015

As Expected, Fire Season Out West Is Just Terrible And Getting Worse

Wildfire sweeping through Wenatchee, Washington
amid unprecedented June heat last weekend.  
Hot times have come this summer to parts of the United States, and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere with incredible heat waves breaking all time records.

The trend is continuing into July.

It seems where I live in Vermont was the exception: June was a little cool and a LOT wet, with near record amounts of precipitation and no days making it to 90 degrees. But it's a totally different story elsewhere.

Out West, it was hot, hot, hot.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, in June, 1,484 daily record highs were set at United States weather station, while only 106 daily record lows were set.

74 weather stations had all time record highs for the entire month of June, and two set all time high temperature records.

The heat has truly been extreme in Washington State and nearby areas. According to Weather Underground, the high temperature of 113 degrees in Walla Walla, Washington, if verified, will not only be the hottest June temperature on record in that city, but for the entire state.

In Walla Walla, the new June record broke the old record of 109 degrees for the month, set just the day before.

List of cities that had record
warm Junes. Click on image
 to make it bigger, easier to see.  
Lewiston, Idaho reached 111 degrees, which is a June record for that city, and possibly for the entire state of Idaho.

All time June high temperature records were set in Yakima and Spokane, Washington; Kalispell, Missoula and Helena, Montana and Meacham Oregon.

At least 19 cities in the northwestern United States, and in Alaska, had their warmest Junes on record. Some cities broke the record by very wide margins.

As you'd expect, with the extreme heat and the ongoing drought, wildfires broke out. As you might have seen on the news, one such wildfire slammed into the city of Wenatchee, Washington, burning at least two dozen homes, along with some businesses.

As you'll notice in an amazing video at the bottom of this post, embers from the main wildfire traveled long distances to set buildings in Wenatchee ablaze.

The drought and heat extended into western Canada and Alaska. Revelstoke, a ski resort town in British Columbia, reached 103 degrees on Sunday.
June wildfire near Willow, Alaska.
Photo by Mat-Su Borough.   

Because of early season heat, Alaska is off to its worst fire season in history.

Alaska is closing in on 2 million acres charred by fires already and it's early in the fire season. This year is on pace to easily surpass 2004 as Alaska's worst fire year on record, when more than 6 million acres burned, says the Washington Post

The fires in Alaska are particularly dangerous. Permafrost is underneath much of Alaska's forests and scrub land that's on fire. If thre's a fire, there's dark ash left.

The black ash collects the heat of the sun, helping to melt the permafrost underneath. When permafrost melts, it releases carbon dioxide into the air.

The released carbon dioxide just adds more to the processes that accelerate global warming.

All this smoke from the wildfires is spreading far and wide. Part of northeastern Montana was under a  dense smoke advisory Monday due to Canadian wildfires. Smoke has spread through much of the middle of the country.

People in areas where the smoke gets really thick face health hazards. Fine particulates in the smoke can cause lung damage.

Expect bouts of smoky haze anywhere in the United States over the next few weeks because of these fires. The smoke would be ironic in many parts of the South and Northeast, parts of which had a record wet June.

Elsewhere, Europe is settling into a nasty heat wave to open the month of July. Already, Madrid, Spain set a new high temperature record for the month of June with a reading of 104 degrees for two days in a row.

Today's high temperature of 36.7 Celcius or 98 degrees Fahrenheit is the hottest July temperature on record in the United Kingdom

Forecasters say temperatures this week could reach to 110 degrees in southern Spain near Cordoba, says the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang blog.

The blog also reports that temperatures could reach 100 degrees in Paris by Wednesday.

The impending heat wave in Europe brings fears of another disaster like in the summer of 2003, in which weeks of record heat killed or contributed to the deaths of up to 35,000 people.

The building European heat is caused by an "omega block"in which areas of low pressure create a high pressure area between them and push hot air far north into Europe.

The omega block can sustain itself for long periods. The high temperatures strengthen the ridge, the ridge creates more heat and you're stuck with a long, dangerous hot spell that in the worst scenarios can last weeks, as Capital Weather Gang notes.

Pakistan also suffered a terrible heat wave during June, in which at least 1,200 were killed by heat related ailments, like heat stroke.

If you're wondering if all these heat waves are related to global warming, they could well be. It's hard to pin a specific weather event on global warming and lots of factors cause heat waves, but as the world warms, we've long been told we can expect more frequent and more intense heat waves.

The hot spells in the Northern Hemisphere this summer are completely consistent with what the climate scientists have been telling us would happen.

It looks  like it's going to be a long, hot, fiery summer.

Here's life in Wenatchee, Washington last weekend.

No comments:

Post a Comment