Harbinger of things to come?

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default Harbinger of things to come?

Post by melodiccolor on Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:41 pm

As I sit here posting this, the air where I am is smoky and growing smokier by the day. I am in Northern California and right now there are 983 forrest fires burning, and that does not count the ones burning just over the border in Neveda. I am in the central valley and smoke from fires as far as 350 miles away is pouring in. Today, the sunshine, when you could see it at all was either orange, or brown, and certainly dim. There have been no clouds since most of the fires started 6 days ago. I can see the smoke as a fog drifting across my backyard. Total visability varies from 1/2 mile to 3 miles if we are lucky. Right now, my eyes feel like sand paper and eye drops don't help. I had to venture outside today. It is a bit hard to breath and asthma gets worse with the increasing smoke, day by day. Of course sleep isn't great, so I am quite tired and I have a 6 day old headache.

983 wild fires at once. The fire season is only 3 weeks old and already we have had more fires and more smoky days than in the last 4 years combined. A couple of weeks ago we also had a few smoky days due to fires, but nothing like this. I've been here 25 years and I've been through a couple of droughts lasting over 8 years. This is far worse and we are only at the beginning of a mild drought. The rainy season usually begins in October but it is not unusual these days for it to hold off to as late as Dec.

They say the average temperature in the west has risen at twice the rate as the east. So I cannot help but wonder, is this a sign of times to come with global warning? I think this summer we will see more burn than in the last 20 years combined; records are already shattered and our driest times are still ahead. It could be one day in the future we'll look back and see this year as mearly average. Shocked pale

That is my view from inside the smoke cloud hundreds of square miles big. 983 wild fires burning. And it was all caused by lightening.

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Post by reb on Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:09 pm

makes me think of

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Alighieri

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Post by SimplyNan on Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:08 pm

I hear you, Mel. Just this morning I read something about this will be the first time since people have known that the North Pole ice mass won't totally freeze. I just don't know either. People say that there are all sorts of natural things that have happened with the earth over the year, changes that people did not instigate but rather the earth did. But I can't help but think that with all the pollution and stuff that is instigated by humans, that this does not contribute to the problems we are now seeing.

The other morning I woke up and could smell smoke from 3 or 4 fires to the south and east of town. These were caused by lightening, too. There was a heck of a lot of wind here and that, combined with the heat, really dries things out a whole lot. But, the monsoons started up yesterday and we got some rain. Lots of thunder and lightening but blessed rain. I could almost hear the desert give a collective sigh of relief. There's a 20% chance of rain again today and tomorrow so we'll see what happens.

I got my exercise this morning raking up a lot of leaves that had fallen off the pepper tree outside my kitchen door. Sweat and exercise, yep, good way to start the day. You woulda been proud of me, Reb.
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Post by melodiccolor on Fri Jun 27, 2008 3:51 pm

I heard about the polar ice cap this morning too. It had been expected but it is arriving sooner than anticipated by a few years. Nature may be causing a lot of this phenomenon, but human activity has amplified the effects many times over. So both the rate of change and the amount of change are greatly amplified. I guess we are the earth's greatest biological force of nature, for better or worse.

We also had the extreme early hot dry winds as well as no rain for about half of our rainy season. That is why things are so explosive now. We had those drying winds, constantly for almost 5 weeks. And we can expect no rain; that storm that is bringing you rain is expected to bring us more verga and lightening. We are down to approx. 700 fires, still an obsene amount. We may be up to over 2,000 by sunday, very easily. And each day, the smoke levels in the valley worsen. I'm glad you are getting some rain though. Relief from this anywhere is welcome.

In an act of supreme cowardace, the calif gov't did not outlaw personal fireworks for the 4th, but just asked people not to buy them voluntarily. Too many school athlete teams and charities use selling fireworks to raise money. So we can expect yet another few hundred fires from this madness. It's a nightmare.

But I got my exercise too, just indoors this morning, cleaning all the floors in the house; a pretty big job that involves moving furniture too. So I can relax and play here guilt free. Cool

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Post by reb on Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:52 pm

Nan, i was ALREADY proud of you:) now, i'm pleased FOR you.

regular daily exercise-hard, sweaty exercise-has helped me lose about 25#, got my blood sugar under control. and keeps me out of the bars, and away from chasing women lol!

usually, i don't like wasting water...i decided the other day, i'm going to start a sprinkler next wednesday; i'm going to move it every so often around and around my shop....until the sob is soaking wet. this reminds me i was gonna drop this humongous tree right off my deck...i tink that's 'tomorrow am'...it woud be good to ahve it gone before another holiday (i'm starting to think of them as 'idiots on the loose day')
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Post by melodiccolor on Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:58 pm

Here's an update to what's been going on with our firestorms: the total number of fires burning eventually reached over 1700.
The fires go on. We still have over 350 burning and they have become quite large. Over 600,000 acres burned in total and the winds have brought the thick smoke back here once again after a short respite of 4 days. So this week, we are facing very unhealthy air and a heat wave where highs will vary between 102 and 110. Lovely. Some of the fires may be burning until next fall's rain. It is also certain that there will be another dry lightening storm or days of high winds again before the rains come again too. All any of us can do is take it one day at a time and try not to get too cabin crazy, as everyone is staying inside away from the smoke. Eventually, this too will pass.

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Post by adain on Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:25 am

The weather's squiff everywhere. Just heard it's been snowing in Christchurch, right up to the beach (believe me if you know NZ weather, this is wierd), and it snowed last year there too, like big snow...not a sprinkling.
And the weather has been wierd in OZ too, Sydney hasn't had a real winter this year. It's been real warm, as I haven't had my millions of blankets on my bed this year. Doesn't bode well for the summer. We only just had a break in the drought.
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Post by melodiccolor on Tue Jul 08, 2008 2:37 pm

Yes, I've been hearing how strange the weather has been world wide. Meteorologists are not sure why, but they have some theories as to what might be contributing.

First, this is a la nina year, which severly alters both ocean and air currents.

Secondly, we are in a period of no sun spot activity, so actually less solar radiation is reaching earth than normal! It gets even wierder; in spite of global warming, the average global temperature this year is down by I think 1 to 2 degrees!

Weird weather indeed!

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Post by melodiccolor on Thu Jul 10, 2008 2:46 pm

Well, it got worse. Fires that they thought were out reignighted and flared out of control once more. We are downwind of some of them; but then, it doesn't matter which direction the wind blows, as there are fires in all directions.

The temperatures for the last 3 days have been between 105 & 109 degrees in spite of a lack of sun due to all the smoke. Today is forcast for 107 again.

The local news says over 1100 fires are burning, but I think that is wrong, as our more accurate local newspaper says about 350; that is still a huge number.

Again, I do not live anywhere near the fires and am not in danger directly from the flames. The heavy blanket of smoke now covers an area roughly 600 miles in diameter.

No one stuck in it feels good now; it has been ongoing for 3 weeks and will not end for at least 2 to 3 months.

It's so bad and so unprecidented that people are no longer talking about the high gas prices ($4.55/gal) or rising food prices. They just talk about the fires.

I so look forward to being able to breath and get a good night's sleep once again, but it may be awhile.

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Post by BlueTopaz on Thu Jul 10, 2008 3:07 pm

Ack, Mel that's horrible. I know how unbearable smoke is. Hope things improve soon.

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Post by Nucky on Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:18 pm

Hope it gets better soon. Is there anywhere you could go to get away from it, if just for a few days?

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Post by melodiccolor on Thu Jul 10, 2008 7:23 pm

I wish I could. But I would have to go at least 300 miles to even have a hope of relief at this point. And to make things really interesting, even if I went that far, if I chose most directions, it still wouldn't be far enough. This thing is huge.

Then there is the matter of finances, sigh.

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Post by Little Sister on Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:19 am

Mel,

I feel for you, too. When I lived in Idaho, I remember how much trouble I had breathing in August, but there weren't nearly the number and size of fires you have now. The length of the "fire" season was shorter, then, too.

Does air-conditioning give you any relief?
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Post by melodiccolor on Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:59 pm

Yes, some. Staying inside does too. The problem is that with the fires burning so long, eventually I must venture outside to get things done, in spite of the smoke, like a bit of yard work or going to the farmer's market. After about a half hour out in it, I feel a lot worse for a couple of days.

In a normal year, we might get maybe one very smoky day all season, plus a few smoky hours on a few other days. And those are typically just before the rains start in midfall. In comparison with that, this year is unprecidented.

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Post by melodiccolor on Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:18 am

Reviving this old thread because of it's title and story. We're having a record drought this year; last rainy day was over a month ago and we've only had 3 days of rain about 140 days into our rainy season.

This year could be far worse.  Shocked 

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Post by Zen on Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:20 am

I hope not although it's sadly likely with that drought.
Kinda glad I'm skipping this year in CA @_@.
I remember the 2008 one with the smoke, that gave me a throat ache so I thought I had a cold...
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Post by RBM on Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:46 am

Drought Monitor

This indicates you may well be in the D3 area (out of 4), else in D2.
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Post by melodiccolor on Sun Jan 19, 2014 4:27 pm

I am in the D3 area. Thanks for the chart; I'll be using that link. I posted this because I have a really really bad feeling about this; I am not accustomed to this kind of dread. Last time I felt this way, we had extreme flooding, back in 1986.

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Post by melodiccolor on Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:39 pm

California drought: Scientists puzzled by persistence of blocking 'ridge'(link)

This really explains what is going on.  Shocked

California drought: Scientists puzzled by persistence of blocking 'ridge'
Many states have seen an easing of drought conditions, but not California, mired in its worst in more than a century. The culprit, a high pressure ridge parked offshore that is blocking winter storms.
By Gloria Goodale – Tue, Jan 21, 2014

While much of the United States has experienced a weather year with fewer extremes and an easing drought, the record-breaking California drought – the worst since 1895 – is not leaving the region anytime soon, according to climatologists.

The unseasonal balmy but dry weather is the result of an equally unprecedented high pressure ridge lurking offshore and blocking the typical winter storms needed to drop precipitation all along the West Coast.

This ridge has persisted for 13 months and the longer it lingers, the less likely it is to leave, points out climatologist Brian Fuchs, from the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. This high pressure ridge system is feeding on itself, “creating a sort of perfect environment for perpetuating the dry conditions” it creates, he says.

RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about California? Take our quiz.

High-pressure systems are not uncommon, but it is abnormal for them to hang around uninterrupted for so long. “This makes it even harder as winter storms approach for them to break through and change that pattern,” he adds.

This recent dry spell accentuates a continuing background condition of prevailing drought across much of the Southwestern US, notes Christopher Williams, a specialist in US drought conditions and an assistant professor at Clark University’s Graduate School of Geography in Worcester, Mass.

Precipitation is below 20 percent of normal and signs of the drought impact run across the region, including low river flows, low snow packs, low reservoir levels, and out-of-season wildfires.

“Wintertime shortages are particularly worrisome,” adds Mr. Williams via e-mail, “because winter is a key time of year for building up water supplies that carry the West through the rest of the year.” What is worse, he says, “shortfalls extend well beyond the state of California itself, reaching nearly all of the remote regions on which the California water supply network relies, particularly the Colorado River Basin.”

Scientists are uncertain as to why the ridge has stubbornly refused to break down and allow incoming storms to hit land. Climate change may be one of many factors, suggests Mr. Fuchs.

“It’s always difficult to know if a specific disaster or storm is tied to climate change,” he says, but over the course of decades it is possible to see large trends moving in a certain direction. “You can’t really pinpoint one thing, but you can say that over a period of decades there is less snow accumulation and warmer temperatures, and climate change is playing a part in that,” he adds.

On Friday, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency, calling for a 20-percent voluntary conservation effort state-wide.

This is just the beginning, says Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources. “We have seen essentially no rain or snowfall this year and short- and long-term forecasts are bleak for California,” says Mr. Parker via e-mail, adding that this means that California will have very low water deliveries to much of its agricultural sector.

This agriculture is an important part of the state’s economy, points out Parker. “This will lead to fallowing of farmland which will reduce output and reduce employment,” he suggests, adding that could drive up the prices of certain commodities. In addition, the dairy and meat sectors will be particularly hard hit, he notes, as those sectors will have to import feed.

The drought throughout the West will impact other states similarly, points out Parker.

The drought will increase pressure on already over-used groundwater supplies, says Parker. “We have seen dropping groundwater levels in many parts of the state. We expect growers to increase use of groundwater, especially for tree and vine crops. This will accelerate the decline in groundwater,” he adds.

Little currently on the horizon offers much hope for change, says California climatologist Mike Anderson, with the Department of Water Resources.

This offshore ridge is very stable, he says, adding, “this is good news if you want nice weather, but if you want precipitation it is not.”

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Post by melodiccolor on Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:38 pm

Driest California in 500 Years?
By Kate Galbraith | The Daily Beast – 9 hrs ago



SAN FRANCISCO—Weird things are happening in California. Bears, normally hibernating at this time of year, have climbed out of their caves to search for food. Some visitors to Tahoe are renting bikes, not skis.

As the East Coast digs out from its latest snow dump, Californians can only look on enviously. Here, the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the state’s great water-supply source, stands at a scary 13 percent of normal. California suffered its driest year on record in 2013, but what’s yet to come is even more terrifying. Federal forecasters predict that the drought will continue or intensify through at least April—by which time, the “rainy” season will be over.


The Golden State should probably be panicking more than it is. Reservoir levels are falling, but only a few cities, including Sacramento and the Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, have mandated water-use reductions. Both have instituted cuts on the order of 20 percent for every household. Governor Jerry Brown has asked everyone to make voluntary cuts, but as drought-stricken Midland, Texas, learned a few years ago, voluntary never quite does it. (An only-in-California water-saving tip I’ve seen: go around in the buff, to save on the need to wash clothes.)

The problem is a huge atmospheric ridge of high-pressure that’s been hovering off the coast for an unprecedented 13 months. Storms can’t break through, so they go around and over it. The really worrying part, as the Christian Science Monitor explained this week, is that the longer the ridge hangs around, the sturdier it gets. Nobody knows when it will disband. (And no, we also don’t yet know if all this is linked to climate change, but California will doubtless be glad to trumpet a connection.)

“This could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years,” says B. Lynn Ingram, a University of California at Berkeley paleoclimatologist.

Assuming the drought continues, it’s going to have huge and complex effects. Among them:


* Farmers are going to fallow land or pump lots of groundwater, depleting the aquifers for future years. (And water-stealing illegal pot-growers may get pursued more vigorously.) * Some towns may run out out of water; the small community of Willits in Mendocino, has only a 100-day supply left. * Summer wildfires were bad last year (remember the huge Yosemite blaze?)—but with the state even crisper, things may now get worse. * Some rivers will go dry. (Fish always seem to have the last dibs on water in times of drought.) * Air pollution will continue to be a problem. The unusually hot, stagnant air has made it the worst pollution season ever in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s triggered purple alert days in Bakersfield, worse than the usual red—and that’s may continue for awhile. Bay Area winter pollution is also nearing a record.

Then there’s politics. Water was already bound to be a big topic this year in California, what with the state’s $25 billion proposal to fix the Delta, the confluence of two rivers where much Sierra Nevada water flows through. It’s an incredible sum—far more than, say, the $2 billion in extra spending that Texas agonized over last year. But voters may be more open after a few dry years.


It bears emphasizing that the drought is not solely a California problem. It’s a long-term Western problem and a big one. Some Oregon towns also recorded their driest year on record in 2013. If you look at a drought map, you’ll see that rainfall is below average for a huge swathe of the West. The New York Times ran a depressing piece recently on the shrinking of the Colorado River, a key source of water for California and other Western states.

Another state worth watching in the context of drought is Texas. That state had its lowest rainfall (and its second-hottest weather) in recorded history in 2011. The rains have returned to much of the state, but some reservoir levels are still worryingly low. The lakes that supply Austin, for instance, are just 38 percent full, far below normal for this time of year. Unless big storms hit, summer evaporation and lawn-watering is going to push things back into the critical mode. West Texas is in worse shape, with its big remaining reservoir less than 14 percent full.


At some point, what with population growth and climate change, the western United States will face a water reckoning. That time may be now.

OK, looks like the news is starting to show what was obvious to us all for some time. I can't help but wonder if my region is going the way of the Mediterranean. Our climate is considered almost identical to there and they slowly became a desert.

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