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)

B.C. wildfire smoke in the Maritimes!

The sun becomes an orange ball due to wildfire smoke, SE Calgary, AB, 14 Aug 2018 (Dearing)

British Columbia is more than 4,000 kilometres away from New Brunswick but that hasn’t stopped forest fire smoke from making its way across Canada.

On Friday afternoon, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement: A plume of smoke from fires in Western Canada is moving at high altitude across the Maritimes today causing hazy skies and a reddish sun.

This smoke is not expected to reach the surface or affect air quality in our region and the plume will move off to the east tonight.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service says more than 600 fires are burning in the province with many regions still under air quality advisories.

Record heat in California

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Sunset over San Francisco, CA, USA, 01 Sept 2017 (Twitter)

San Francisco rarely suffers from hot weather which is why many residents are struggling to stay cool during a heat wave since most homes don’t have air conditioners.

The U.S. National Weather Service says the thermometer climbed to an all-time record-breaking 41.1 C (106 F) on 01 September and another record of 38.9 C (102 F) was set the following day.

Those sizzling highs are a far cry from the average of 21 C for the northern California city.

Numerous wildfires in the region have produced smoke and haze which has added to air quality concerns.

The heat has also stretched northward to Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia where temperatures could exceed 30 C on Vancouver Island.

Firefighters make progress in B.C. wildfires

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Active wildfires burning in BC, 13 July 2017 (BC Wildfire Service/Google)

More than 300 firefighters from across Canada including New Brunswick are now in British Columbia to relieve those already on the ground battling over 180 wildfires.

Some progress has been made thanks to recent cooler weather but 14,000 residents have been evacuated and thousands more are on alert to leave their homes at short notice.

Forecasters say gusty winds expected this weekend could fan the flames even further and the heat is also expected to return.

The economy of the B.C. Interior is taking a hit this summer with many campgrounds and provincial parks forced to close due to the wildfires and related road closures.

Forest fire tragedy in Portugal

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Burnt cars block a road in the Pedrogao Grande area, Portugal, 18 June 2017 (AP/Armando Franca)

A massive forest fire in central Portugal has claimed more than 60 lives and injured dozens of others with hot, windy conditions fanning the flames.

Many died in their vehicles trying to flee the blaze while others died from smoke inhalation.

Portugal has declared three days of mourning in what has been called the worst human tragedy in recent times.

More than 2,000 firefighters are on the scene with help coming from Spain and across Europe.

Officials believe lightning started the fire on Saturday in the mountainous area of Pedrogao Grande, northeast of Lisbon.

Canada’s Top 10 of 2016

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RCMP officer in burnt neighbourhood, Fort McMurray, AB, 05 May 2016 (Alberta RCMP)

From the horrible wildfires which destroyed parts of Fort McMurray, Alberta to the winter that wasn’t to a warm, dry summer which led to drought in areas of Eastern Canada, 2016 was certainly noteworthy for major weather events.

  1. Fort McMurray’s “Fire Beast”
  2. Super El Niño Cancels Winter – 2nd warmest Canada-wide ever
  3. August Long Weekend Storm on the Prairies… Big and Costly
  4. A Summer to Remember in the East
  5. November’s Heat Wave and December’s Deep Freeze
  6. Arctic Sea Ice Going, Going… Break-up earlier/Freeze-up later
  7. Wild Summer Prairie Weather
  8. A Tale of Two Springs – Cold East and Warm West
  9. Thanksgiving Day Atlantic Weather Bomb
  10. Southwest Ontario’s $100 Million September Gusher                                               (Courtesy Environment Canada)

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.

PM Trudeau in Fort McMurray

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours burnt-out areas of Fort McMurray, AB with Fire Chief Darby Allen, 13 May 2016 (Reuters)


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Fort McMurray on Friday for the first time since wildfires destroyed more than 10 percent of the city or about 2,400 buildings.

Trudeau praised the work of emergency responders including firefighters for helping to save most of the city including the downtown core.

More than 90,000 people remain displaced and are staying with family or friends or remain in evacuation centres waiting for word on when they can return home.

Trudeau announced an extension of jobless benefits for those in the region which follows emergency financial aid announced for fire victims by the Red Cross and the Alberta government.

Although the wildfires have moved away from Fort McMurray, officials say the blazes could burn for weeks to come in forested areas.

Wildfires grow in northern Alberta

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RCMP officer in burned neighbourhood of Fort McMurray, 05 May 2016 (Alberta RCMP)


Apart from RCMP officers on patrol, the city of Fort McMurray remains a ghost town after wildfires forced almost 90,000 residents to evacuate.

Thousands who fled north to oil sands camps found themselves stranded since Highway 63 is the only route south.

RCMP are leading vehicles in convoys heading south through empty and burned out areas of Fort McMurray to evacuation centres as far south as Edmonton.

Wildfires have grown to cover 1000 square kilometres of northern Alberta and officials say only rain and cooler conditions will help temper the flames.

Wildfire engulfs Fort McMurray

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RCMP among few left in Fort McMurray enforcing evacuation, 04 May 2016 (RCMP/Twitter)

About 1,600 buildings have burned to the ground in Fort McMurray as a wildfire engulfed the southwest portion of the city late yesterday.

Alberta has declared a state of emergency as the government confirms many homes in the Beacon Hill and Waterways neighbourhoods have been destroyed.

The wildfire cut the city in two forcing 10,000 people to evacuate north to oil sands camps and at least 80,000 had to head south.

Traffic became gridlocked on Highway 63 as dozens of drivers abandoned their vehicles after breaking down or running out of gas.

Heading further south to Edmonton, drivers faced a slow, tense trip with bumper-to-bumper traffic and long lineups at the few gas stations available.

The military has been called in to help firefighters and hundreds of additional RCMP officers are being deployed to the region.