Russian wildfire smoke reaches Canada, U.S.; Death Valley hits 128°F

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:29 PM GMT on July 12, 2012

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The U.S. isn't the only country suffering from a severe wildfire season. Russian firefighters have been battling huge blazes in Siberia for months. Central Russia experienced record warm temperatures 11 - 12°F (6 - 7°C) above average during June, feeding fires that have burned more area in 2012 than in 2010--the year of the unprecedented heat wave that killed over 55,000 people. Smoke from this summer's Russian fires rose high into the atmosphere last week, and got caught in the jet stream. As University of Washington professor Dr. Cliff Mass explained in this blog, the strong winds of the jet stream carried the smoke to western North America this week, where sinking air associated with a strong area of high pressure brought the smoke to the surface. On Wednesday, CBC reported that the smoke had settled over Vancouver, British Columbia, reducing visibility and increasing air pollution. Meteorologist Eric Taylor of the B.C. Ministry of Environment said he had never seen ozone pollution levels as high in B.C.'s central Interior as occurred over the past few days. The smoke has created colorful sunsets from Oregon to British Columbia, but a low pressure system is expected to flush most of the smoke out by Friday.


Figure 1. Thick smoke from forest fires burning in Siberia on July 5, 2012 (left) and July 9, 2012 (right.) Image credit: NASA.


Figure 2. The view from West Vancouver, British Columbia on Wednesday was obscured by thick smoke from forest fires burning in Siberia. Image credit: ThemeGreen's Webcam.

Colorado's most destructive wildfire in its history finally contained
It's been another severe year for wildfires in the U.S., with the National Interagency Fire Center reporting 4800 square miles of burned acreage thus far in 2012, an area about 87% of the size of Connecticut. This is pretty close to the 10-year average for this point in the year, and ranks as the fourth highest of the past ten years. However, with summer not yet half over, and more than 2/3 of the Western U.S. experiencing moderate to extreme drought, the Western U.S. fire season still has plenty of time to add significant acreage to its burn total. The hardest-hit state at present is Idaho, where one-third of the country's large fires (twelve) are burning. The worst fires of 2012 so far have been in Colorado, which had its hottest and driest June since record keeping began in 1895. Colorado's most destructive wildfire in its history, the 29-square mile Waldo Canyon fire, was finally 100% contained on Wednesday, aided by a week of relatively cool and wet weather. The fire killed two people and destroyed nearly 350 houses when it burned into northwestern Colorado Springs. Colorado's second most destructive and second largest fire in recorded history was the High Park Fire, fifteen miles northwest of Fort Collins. The fire was 100% contained on June 30. According to the Denver Post, the High Park Fire burned in an area where 70% of the trees that have been killed by mountain pine beetles; the insects have devastated forests in western North America in recent years. So did pine beetle damage contribute to this year's devastating Colorado fires? Using Landsat satellite data, a team of scientists led by University of Wisconsin forest ecologist Phil Townsend have discovered that pine beetle damage appears not to have a significant impact in the risk of large fires, and may reduce fire risk in some instances (Video 1.)


Video 1. Wildfire and Pine Beetles: NASA explains how recent devastation of forests in the Rocky Mountains by the mountain pine beetle may be affecting wildfire odds.

Links to follow
Our climate change blogger, Dr. Ricky Rood, has a post on mountain pine beetles and climate change.

I have a post on how climate change is expected to increase Western U.S. fires.

Welcome to the Rest of Our Lives, an 8-minute video put together by climate change videographer Peter SInclair, provides a dramatic look at the extreme weather that has hit the U.S. in June and July.

Our climate change blogger, Dr. Ricky Rood, is in Boulder, Colorado this summer, and had this to say in his June 27 post on the wildfires in Colorado: "The past few days have been relentless. Denver has seen temperatures above 100°F for 5 straight days, and it was 105° today. At the weather station closest to where I live, the thunderstorm that started today’s fire stopped the temperature rise at 97.5 F. The dew point was in the high 30s. The ground temperature in the garden was about 110°. Tonight it all smells of smoke again. It is hard to sleep when the house is 88 degrees and the air smells of smoke. You constantly think of fire."

Death Valley hits 128°: 10th hottest temperature in U.S. history
The high temperature in Death Valley, California hit 128°F (53.3°C) on Wednesday, the hottest temperature measured in the U.S. since July 18, 2009, when Death Valley recorded another 128° reading. Yesterday's 128° was the 10th hottest temperature in U.S. history. The only hotter temperatures were all measured at Death Valley, the most recent one being the 129° measured on July 6, 2007. The all-time high for Death Valley is the 134° reading of July 10, 1913. The forecast for Death Valley calls for a slow cool-down over the next few days, with highs reaching "only" 105° on Monday. That's the date of the start of the grueling Badwater Ultramarathon. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA, it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet. Lace up your running shoes (not!)

Jeff Masters

Going down, (Glaswegian)
on a hot and humid July evening
Going down,
Workday Sunrise (HarveyCreek)
Going out to the car to head to work, I saw this great sunrise and had to take the time to capture it. This is a panoramic rendition.
Workday Sunrise

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Special weather statement for:
=new= City of Toronto
=new= Windsor - Essex - Chatham-Kent
=new= Sarnia - Lambton
=new= Elgin
=new= London - Middlesex
=new= Simcoe - Delhi - Norfolk
=new= Dunnville - Caledonia - Haldimand
=new= Oxford - Brant
=new= Niagara
=new= City of Hamilton
=new= Halton - Peel
=new= York - Durham
=new= Huron - Perth
=new= Waterloo - Wellington
=new= Dufferin - Innisfil
=new= Grey - Bruce
=new= Barrie - Orillia - Midland
=new= Belleville - Quinte - Northumberland
=new= Kingston - Prince Edward
=new= Peterborough - Kawartha Lakes
=new= Stirling - Tweed - South Frontenac
=new= Bancroft - Bon Echo Park
=new= Brockville - Leeds and Grenville
=new= City of Ottawa
=new= Gatineau
=new= Prescott and Russell
=new= Cornwall - Morrisburg
=new= Smiths Falls - Lanark - Sharbot Lake
=new= Parry Sound - Muskoka
=new= Haliburton
=new= Renfrew - Pembroke - Barry's Bay
=new= Algonquin
=new= Burk's Falls - Bayfield Inlet.

An extended hot, rain-free episode expected for Southern Ontario.

------------------------------------------------- --------------------
==discussion==
The lazy hazy dog days of summer have settled into Southern Ontario
with frequent bouts of hot and muggy conditions. And we're only in
the middle part of July with no real change in the offing.

Yet another extended period of hot temperatures is expected across
much of Southern Ontario. The mercury topped off in the low thirties
in most regions today, with expected readings a degree or two higher
on Friday. Humidity levels are forecast to be relatively low through
Saturday. Building heat and humidity are likely by Sunday and Monday
when humidex values may be close to the 40 threshold in some areas.
The heat and humidity may very well peak towards the middle of next
week with temperatures well in the thirties and humidex readings in
the mid forties before somewhat cooler air arrives.

Tonight's temperatures will still be fairly comfortable but will
creep higher over the coming nights with the gradual increase in
humidity on the weekend.

There is also very little rain relief from the very dry conditions
affecting much of Southern Ontario (especially serious from Guelph
and Brantford through London). A spotty thunderstorm is possible
through next week but unlikely for any given locale. The greatest
chance of significant rain may come around the middle of next week,
with the torrid temperatures, but may occur in the form of strong
thunderstorms.

On another note, if this similar pattern holds for another two weeks
this July may give July 2011 a run for the money for the hottest
Mean temperature (average of the high and low temperatures) for some
areas.

The public is advised to monitor future forecasts and warnings as
warnings may be required or extended.

Please monitor the latest forecasts and warnings from Environment
Canada at www.weatheroffice.gc.ca

END/OSPC


Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54499
Quoting washingtonian115:
The wave off Africa won't develop..because conditions won't allow.
Ture, maybe if the SAL wasn't there and we had the mjo but since both aren't happening so no developement. It does look cool right now though.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7951
Quoting KoritheMan:


That's true. If by this time tomorrow there is some indication of a thunderstorm, that can generate more wind than my box fan, I will reconsider.
If its anything like my box fan....than that is more than a qualifying wind. Cant sleep without it!
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Actually, the chances of another 1992 are very good relative to what they were in that year. There is nothing particularly unusual about a westward-moving August major hurricane, even during El Nino years. Perhaps I need to cite Betsy in 1965, Anita in 1977, or perhaps Alicia in the otherwise dead 1983?
okay but all the elnino years we had we been a little lucky i mean andrew got lucky im not being insensitive but come on now i can feel we are going to get lucky this year neutral years on theother hand proves to be deadlier
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Quoting scott39:
I dont see why it wouldnt either Kori. Give it 24 hours. Only the NAM is picking up on it. The other reliable modules are known not to pick up on this type of AOI.


That's true. If by this time tomorrow there is some indication of a thunderstorm that can generate more wind than my box fan, I will reconsider.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting windshear1993:
this year is going to be like 2006and 2009 becuase i said so becuase you guys know how lucky we are in elnino years like the chances of a 2004 and 1992 are slim but u never know just saying how i feel


Actually, the chances of another 1992 are probably as good as they were in 1992. There is nothing particularly unusual about a westward-moving August major hurricane, even during El Nino years. Perhaps I need to cite Betsy in 1965, Anita in 1977, or perhaps Alicia in the otherwise dead 1983 season?
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Speaking of rain...
in Texas

They said the A word:

PART OF NW HARRIS COUNTY RECEIVED 8.5 TO 10.3 INCHES OF RAIN IN THE
PAST 24 HOURS. ONE OF THE CYPRESS CREEK STREAM GAUGES WAS
REPORTING STAGE HEIGHTS REMINISCENT OF VALUES FROM TS ALLISON.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The low pressure in the Gulf will develop because I said so.
this year is going to be like 2006and 2009 becuase i said so becuase you guys know how lucky we are in elnino years like the chances of a 2004 and 1992 are slim but u never know just saying how i feel
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Do you think Mother Nature cares what you say?
whether or not it develops does not depend on what people say.

Agreed.
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All the ingredients for a TC are there for the AOI exiting off of Fl.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Now I'm saying it will.
Are we allowed to flip-flop our forecasts on here?:) I know you were joking but still I felt like asking.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7951
The wave off Africa won't develop..because conditions won't allow.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17097
Quoting KoritheMan:


Now I'm saying it will.

Stop changing your story, Kori!
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Quoting AussieStorm:

Do you think Mother Nature cares what you say?


Pretty sure he was joking. As was I. I still don't think this will develop.
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Quoting windshear1993:
the low presure in the gulf wont develope becuase i said so

Do you think Mother Nature cares what you say?
whether or not it develops does not depend on what people say.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Could be a surprise waiting for us.
You never know what could happen, the gulf is hot right now so maybe.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7951
Quoting KoritheMan:


The low pressure in the Gulf will develop because I said so.
I dont see why it wouldnt either Kori. Give it 24 hours. Only the NAM is picking up on it. The other reliable modules are known not to pick up on this type of AOI.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

but you've been saying for the past two days that it won't.



Now I'm saying it will.
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Eastern Tropical Atlantic
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Quoting KoritheMan:


The low pressure in the Gulf will develop because I said so.

but you've been saying for the past two days that it won't.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
From tonight's NWS of San Juan Discussion.

LONG TERM...THE NEXT TROPICAL WAVE WAS NOW NEAR 46 WEST WITH AN
ELONGATED SURGE OF MOISTURE PRECEDING THE WAVE ALONG 50/51 WEST.
LATEST GFS MODEL GUIDANCE WHICH SO FAR HAD FAIRLY GOOD HANDLE ON
OVERALL WEATHER SCENARIO...NOW SUGGESTS THAT BOTH FEATURES WILL
ENTER AND QUICKLY MOVE ACROSS THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN DURING THE
LATTER PORTION OF THE UPCOMING WEEKEND THROUGH MONDAY OF NEXT WEEK.
A SLOT OF DRIER/SUBSIDING AIR EXPECTED TO MOVE OVER THE AREA ON
SATURDAY...JUST AHEAD OF THE NARROW BAND OF MOISTURE AND TROPICAL
WAVE. HOWEVER EXPECT LOCAL AND DIURNAL EFFECT TO STILL AID IN
ISOLATED CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT OVER THE WEEKEND.


So Tropics....does this mean our Kingfish Tournament on Sunday could be a little rough out there?

Lindy
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Quoting windshear1993:
the low presure in the gulf wont develope becuase i said so :
)


The low pressure in the Gulf will develop because I said so.
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Antilles radar
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Could be a surprise waiting for us.
the low presure in the gulf wont develope becuase i said so :
)
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the low presure in the gulf wont develope becuase i said so
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Quoting wxchaser97:

Vorticy is slowly getting stronger over Florida, not saying it will develope but...
Could be a surprise waiting for us.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17097
...
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Vorticy is slowly getting stronger over Florida, not saying it will develope but...
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7951
Quoting Patrap:


I like um,,



Control yerself,

take only what you need from them.

A family of trees wanting, to be Haunted



I wonder why they would give Mark Twain credit for Nietzsche's quote on the abyss that gazes back. If it is a joke, it is too deep for me.
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Quoting southernbell72:
Pat, do you think the swirl in the gulf will turn into a invest?


Dunno, time will tell.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128765
Quoting pottery:

Not good for people who have to buy food either....


it will be a bitter harvest this season
food prices will sky rocket come winter
if there is large scale
crop failure/low harvest yeilds this fall
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54499
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The ONI is only up to -0.1 °C. It'll be another few months before El Niño is declared.

Nino 3.4 is also down to 0.5°C from 0.7°C in the previous week.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The ONI is only up to -0.1 °C. It'll be another few months before El Niño is declared.
oh in that case we could see another 2004
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Shear is below Climo.If we head into August like this....
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17097
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Comment #864.
um yea thanks i guess im a know nothing
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

The ONI is only up to -0.1 °C. It'll be another few months before El Niño is declared.


If that is the case,then the peak months of ASO would be in warm Neutral.
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mmmmm look at West Africa where the new t-wave just came off.

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Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7951
Quoting windshear1993:
im really confused to see whats going on with the nino like just declare an elnino and get it over with

The ONI is only up to -0.1 °C. It'll be another few months before El Niño is declared.
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im really confused to see whats going on with the nino like just declare an elnino and get it over with
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Pat, do you think the swirl in the gulf will turn into a invest?
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Quoting pottery:

Doing good here, Nigel.
You still needing some rain?

Yeah, in and around the Kingston area...it's been generally wet in the western end of Jamaica.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Don't steal my thunder, Ryan. :(

Well, despite all of the flooding just to my SW, I only saw .03 inches of rain here today, so I needed to steal some sort of thunder! :P

Ok, that was probably pretty lame. I tried.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.