Will rain really help California wildfires?

Heavy rain is not exactly being welcomed in California despite recent wildfires in the northern and southern parts of the state which have been ferocious and deadly.

Officials are now warning about the threat of mudslides as rain falls on dry or parched land and it runs downhill bringing rocks and debris with it.

About 100 mm of rain could fall in the north where the so-called Camp Fire has wiped out the mountain town of Paradise, north of the state capital Sacramento, claiming more than 77 lives with 1,000 still missing.

In the south, nearly 50 mm could dampen the so-called Woolsey Fire in the western suburbs of Los Angeles which has claimed at least three lives and destroyed some of America’s most expensive real estate including the homes of numerous Hollywood celebrities.

The cause of both fires is still under investigation but a lawsuit alleges problems with electricity transmission lines may have played a role.

Gerard Butler, Instagram

Actor Gerard Butler in front of his destroyed home in Malibu, CA, USA, 11 Nov 2018 (Instagram)

Fall colours reach peak

Fall foliage along St George Boulevard, Moncton, 13 Oct 2018 (Dearing)

The brilliant fall foliage hues of red, orange and gold have reached their peak in Southeast New Brunswick.

Leaves have already begun falling to the ground and the season is already past peak across the northern part of the province.

Experts say the colours have peaked about a week later than usual thanks to a hot, dry summer which caused stress for leaves.

The drought was relatively short-lived with a plentiful amount of rain recorded so far this autumn.

Furnace Friday

HotUK

Forecast highs in the UK for 27 July 2018 (Met Office)

The British, like Canadians, often give names to extreme weather events and ‘Furnace Friday’ is a fine example.

Meteorologists were expecting the all-time heat record of 38.5 C from 2003 would fall yesterday but thunderstorms rolled through and cooled things down.

Nevertheless, the UK Met Office reports a maximum of 34.7 C at Tibenham Airfield, Norfolk while it reached 35.3 C in Faversham, Kent – the hottest high of 2018 so far.

The heat wave has turned grass brown, triggered water restrictions, disrupted rail services and prompted a warning from officials to stay out of the sun.

California wildfires prompt massive evacuation

CAwildfires

Man watches wildfire in Ventura, CA, USA, 06 Dec 2017 (AP)

More than 200,000 residents have been evacuated in Southern California as hot, dry Santa Ana winds fan the flames of aggressive wildfires.

The winds which blow westward from the Mohave Desert are forecast to gust up to 130 km/h before subsiding by this weekend.

Firefighters say it will be virtually impossible to fight the blazes in those conditions.

Hundreds of homes surrounding Los Angeles have burned to the ground and the fires have even been jumping freeways.

Heavy rainfall earlier this year helped suppress a lengthy drought but a record hot summer has created extremely parched conditions.

October 2017 – Second warmest since 1881

Many trees are losing leaves in west end Moncton, 27 Oct 2017 (Dearing)

October often felt like August in Greater Moncton with 12 days reaching daytime highs of 20 C or higher.

Environment Canada says only October 1913 was slightly warmer since records began in 1881.

Temperatures did fall below freezing on 7 days with some scattered frost but the month escaped a hard frost and vegetation continued to flourish.

Rainfall was more than 30 percent below normal in Southeast New Brunswick continuing a prolonged dry period which began in early summer.

OCTOBER 2017 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH 17.7 C

Average LOW 5.0 C

AVERAGE 11.4 C (about 3.8 degrees ABOVE normal)

Extreme HIGH 23.7 C (08 Oct)

Extreme LOW -1.8 C (13 Oct)

RAINFALL 76.5 mm (about 30 percent BELOW normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Western NB gets drenched

A slow moving frontal system brought heavy rain to western New Brunswick with about 20 mm falling per hour in the southwest.

Environment Canada reported 174 mm of rain in St. Stephen over a two day period which is a shocking amount considering about 180 mm fell from June to September.

Other amounts include 112 mm in Edmundston, 93 mm in Woodstock and 74 mm in Fredericton.

Rainfall totals were much lower in Southeast New Brunswick where only 27 mm fell at the Greater Moncton International Airport.

Tropical air with this system broke more record highs in Atlantic Canada with a maximum of 23.4 C in Moncton and Bouctouche, 23.5 C in Cheticamp, 22.0 C in Deer Lake and 21.2 C in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Forest fires burn at CFB Gagetown

Three forest fires are continuing to burn at Base Gagetown with drifting smoke causing poor air quality in Oromocto and nearby Fredericton.

Training exercises on the sprawling military base reportedly ignited the fires in recent days which have not posed any threat to homes or structures.

A smoky sky over the New Brunswick capital city prompted public health officials to urge children, seniors and anyone with lung conditions to stay indoors.

Water bombers have been attacking the fires which have burned over 1,000 hectares to date amid very dry conditions.

Fall foliage past peak

Maple tree past peak in Moncton, 22 Oct 2017 (Dearing)

The fall foliage in Southeast New Brunswick is now past peak and the leaves are starting to tumble to the ground.

Typically a strong wind and/or rain event will bring down most remaining leaves from the trees with maples the first to shed and oaks among the last.

Forestry experts say unseasonably warm weather across the Maritimes this autumn have muted some fall colours.

Rich, vivid displays are most common when days are sunny but cool and nights are cold.

Much needed rain arrives

Heavy downpour during thunderstorm in NE Moncton, 11 Aug 2017 (Dearing)

A thunderstorm rolled through Greater Moncton on Friday afternoon and it was a welcome sight when two periods of downpours brought much needed rain.

A fire ban had been in place across Southern New Brunswick but more rain today lowered the fire hazard and burning is now allowed from 8pm to 8am.

The last significant rainfall in Greater Moncton was 8.2 mm on 21 July and prior to that it was 21.2 mm on 24 June.

Agriculture Canada has declared that much of Prince Edward Island is experiencing a drought with little rain since early June.

Wildfires tear through Tennessee

Burned buildings and cars aftermath of wildfire in Gatlinburg Tennessee

Wildfire devastation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, USA, 29 Nov 2016 (Reuters)

It sounds all too familiar in 2016 – wildfires devastate a community.

This time it’s autumn in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and last time it was spring in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

About 1,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed by wildfires in the eastern part of the southern U.S. state of Tennessee.

Officials believe the fire was human-caused and began earlier this week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Strong winds toppled trees and power lines and spread embers to nearby Gatlinburg where 14,000 people had to be evacuated.

Rain has helped fire crews but months of drought has left the ground bone-dry.

At least two Canadians are among 13 people who have died in the wildfires.