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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Any thoughts on the wave coming off Africa?
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A strong circulation on the California/Baja California border has quite the pull,maybe even a tug on Emilia??
It's raing hard in Los Angeles right now,but me being in San Diego County mountains have seen only a trace thus far. Forecast is for 60-80% chance of Thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow....but I see a lot of dry air in San Diego County. blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
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831. JLPR2
Quoting pottery:

So how come you made a prediction ?


Ha!

...That is all...
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Quoting pottery:

Strange weather everywhere.
We had no dry season at all, in Trinidad.
Rained the whole time.


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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


I ignore you on purpose. :p


And I ignore you back. ;)
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Quoting KoritheMan:


I still don't understand why you take that so personally, lol. Lighten up. As Grothar said the other day, it just happens. 99% of the time it's nothing personal. And the 1% where it is, I just laugh.


I ignore you on purpose. :p
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Quoting java162:


same here in dominica.... we had lots of rain from February to may but as soon as the wet season started, its like we in drought...


Same in Puerto Rico where it rained a lot in the normal dry months of Febuary,March and April.Then a normal May was followed by an extreme dry June when only .04 fell. July has been above normal in rainfall so far.
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Quoting windshear1993:
so what's the new anologues for this hurricane season??? 2009 Is one


I'm still sticking with 2002.
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Seems the spin over Florida has good vorticity and convergence.May need to watched once in the Gulf.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17074
so what's the new anologues for this hurricane season??? 2009 Is one
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Quoting java162:
goodnight every one....... im from the caribbean (lesser Antilles)this is the driest rainy season i can remember in my life. for the entire month of june we only had 43mm of rain perharps the driest on record. july which suppose to be the wettest month normally over a foot of rain seems to be following the same pattern. extremly dry! is this as a result of El Nino?


Maybe, but i'm not totally sure because el enso is in Neutral phase,
and the entire of signs of el nino aren't present yet

I'm from Dominican republic and here also is so dry and warm the past days



If you see in this image,maybe is because el NINO
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Derived from the 13July12amGMT (NHC) ATCF data for HurricaneEmilia:
15.1n121.9w has been re-evaluated&altered*
15.2n121.9w - 15.3n123.0w are now the most recent positions

Its vector* had changed from 11.2mph(18km/h) West to 12.3mph(19.8km/h) West
MaxSusWinds had decreased from 90knots(104mph)167km/h to 80knots(92mph)148km/h
And minimum pressure had increased from 965millibars to 976millibars

For those who like to visually track H.Emilia's path...
HI25 is Naalehu :: SAN is SanDiego :: CSL is CaboSanLucas

The 3 kinked lines represent Emilia's path on its first 3 days as a hurricane. The second dot from the far right is where H.Emilia reached its maximum intensity of ~115knots(133mph)231k/h at 948millibars
Easternmost dot on the longest line is HurricaneEmilia's most recent position

The longest line is a straightline projection thru H.Emilias's 2 most recent positions to its closest approach to Hawaii's coastline
12July6amGMT: H.Emilia had been headed toward passing 44miles(72kilometres) South of Hawaii
12July12pmGMT: H.Emilia had been headed toward passing 443miles(713kilometres) South of Hawaii
12July6pmGMT: H.Emilia had been headed toward passing 212miles(341kilometres) South of Hawaii*
(top of blob connected to the straightline)
13July12amGMT: H.Emilia was heading toward passing 221miles(355kilometres) South of Hawaii
in ~7days5hours

Copy&paste 8.8n156.5w, hi25, 18.264n155.678w, 12.541n154.688w, 15.833n155.482w, san, csl, 12.0n108.7w- 12.4n109.4w- 12.8n110.5w- 13.2n111.7w- 13.4n112.5w, 13.4n112.5w- 13.6n113.3w- 13.8n114.1w- 14.2n115.1w- 14.5n116.2w, 14.5n116.2w- 14.6n117.0w- 14.7n117.8w- 14.9n118.6w- 15.1n119.7w, 15.1n119.7w-15.1n120.9w, 15.1n120.9w-15.2n121.9w, 15.2n121.9w-15.3n123.0w, 15.2n121.9w-15.708n155.462w, 18.911n155.681w-15.708n155.462w into the GreatCircleMapper for more information
The previous mapping for comparison*

* The previous vector and the endpoint of the previous straightline projection were corrected for this mapping through recalculation using the most recent positions.
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current nino/nina regions jun 12/12 jul 12/12 monthly compare map cooling continues

get ready for a surprize


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Quoting pottery:

Strange weather everywhere.
We had no dry season at all, in Trinidad.
Rained the whole time.


same here in dominica.... we had lots of rain from February to may but as soon as the wet season started, its like we in drought...
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Today thunderstorm coverage was surprisingly not that high considering the presence of the low and what was overall the same air mass.

The reason for the lower coverage is likely due to warmer air aloft from all the latent heat released from the intense thunderstorms around the last few days. It created a stable layer or what appeared to be a cap today. I expect that to not really be present by tomorrow as such things are often short term.

BTW I picked up an additional inch today from another heavy storm which struggled to develop at first but after breaking through the cap it sure unleashed on us.
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Quoting Patrap:


Have a Whole Foods round the corners on Magazine Street.

MGMT did that Video, "Kids" in front of it a few years back too

I don't even SHOP at Whole Foods, and they're HQd here in Austin.

So that Yucatan low, that dry air from the N and W jumped in two hours after it formed. Can the BOC mix it out and the ULL continue on its way?
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Sometimes the way my filter here defaults, I dont see all the posts.

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just so everyone could see
CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.6 / 975.8mb/ 79.6kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
4.1 4.2 3.3

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.1 /1000.1mb/ 47.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.0 2.7 2.7

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


I am more interested in that huge complex in East/Central Africa.


here is a wind field map of region




and one of the wave coming off

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Quoting java162:
goodnight every one....... im from the caribbean (lesser Antilles)this is the driest rainy season i can remember in my life. for the entire month of june we only had 43mm of rain perharps the driest on record. july which suppose to be the wettest month normally over a foot of rain seems to be following the same pattern. extremly dry! is this as a result of El Nino?

Strange weather everywhere.
We had no dry season at all, in Trinidad.
Rained the whole time.
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Quoting Abacosurf:
there you go with MGMT again.. :)


I like um,,



Control yerself,

take only what you need from them.

A family of trees wanting, to be Haunted
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Quoting java162:
goodnight every one....... im from the caribbean (lesser Antilles)this is the driest rainy season i can remember in my life. for the entire month of june we only had 43mm of rain perharps the driest on record. july which suppose to be the wettest month normally over a foot of rain seems to be following the same pattern. extremly dry! is this as a result of El Nino?


I would attribute it more to frequent SAL outbreaks and now the downward MJO pulse. El Nino hasn't kicked in yet.
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Quoting Patrap:


Have a Whole Foods round the corners on Magazine Street.

MGMT did that Video, "Kids" in front of it a few years back too
there you go with MGMT again.. :)
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goodnight every one....... im from the caribbean (lesser Antilles)this is the driest rainy season i can remember in my life. for the entire month of june we only had 43mm of rain perharps the driest on record. july which suppose to be the wettest month normally over a foot of rain seems to be following the same pattern. extremly dry! is this as a result of El Nino?
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Everyone seems to be ignoring me.


I still don't understand why you take that so personally, lol. Lighten up. As Grothar said the other day, it just happens. 99% of the time it's nothing personal. And the 1% where it is, I just laugh.
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Quoting spathy:
Just a question.
What is the history of fire suppression in Colorado where the Pine beetles are a problem?
Are the beetles taking advantage of aging forests that are largely in existence because of outdated fire suppression rules that have only recently changed?


IIRC historically winter temps got low enough to kill off much of the pine beetle population, but thats no longer the case... Doesnt get that cold now, so they basically munch on trees year-round.

Seem to remember reading that the beetle-killed trees didn't have as big an effect on the fires as the amount of undergrowth.

I'm on my phone or I'd look this up now... Anyone willing to cooberate or correct this info, thanks in advance.

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Quoting floridaboy14:
well well well am i the only person to predict warm neutral for the peak of the season? not to brag but this shows the enso is impossible to predict</em>

So how come you made a prediction ?
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CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
4.6 / 975.8mb/ 79.6kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
4.1 4.2 3.3

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
3.1 /1000.1mb/ 47.0kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
3.0 2.7 2.7

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Quoting KoritheMan:


What, I'm not good enough?

WELL FINE! FORGET YOU!
Everyone seems to be ignoring me.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 17074
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


I am more interested in that huge complex in East/Central Africa.


All those African Continent Waves may look intriguing over Africa, its how that fare 2-3 into the Atlantic that usually tells the tale on them though.

I never give them credence till I see some Vorticity in the Atlantic post transition.

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Quoting floridaboy14:
well well well am i the only person to predict warm neutral for the peak of the season? not to brag but this shows the enso is impossible to predict

By no means is it hard to predict. The waters have cooled some, but the overall trend is towards El Niño, which should be declared in September or October.
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Quoting floridaboy14:
well well well am i the only person to predict warm neutral for the peak of the season? not to brag but this shows the enso is impossible to predict


Given current trends, why would you say neutral instead of El Nino?
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Quoting redwagon:

Look. I steer clear of political infighting for 6 years on a WEATHER blog, can't get a GOM ULL spinup word in edge-wise today amongst all the 'what on earth can we DO to stop GMOs?' crying; I propose - one post - figuring out a way to strengthen Whole Foods, the ONLY retailer committed to ending GMOs and I get a slew of complaints of how that's unreasonable and unfair and unrealistic and downright hegemonistic.

Teach me to take the political bait.


Have a Whole Foods round the corners on Magazine Street.

MGMT did that Video, "Kids" in front of it a few years back too
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Quoting Patrap:


I am more interested in that huge complex in East/Central Africa.
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well well well am i the only person to predict warm neutral for the peak of the season? not to brag but this shows the enso is impossible to predict
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Quoting Civicane49:
Emilia no longer has an eye.


At least one you can see. It might be cloud filled, but yeah, it's going if not gone. You can have cloud filled eyes with strengthening storms, too. Here's a quote from a discussion of an Indian Ocean system.

"ANIMATED INFRARED SATELLITE IMAGERY REVEALS THAT TC 08S CONTINUES TO IMPROVE ITS ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE WITH A CLOUD FILLED EYE AND INCREASING SYMMETRY AS THE SYSTEM MOVES AWAY FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT."

Another example
:

"In an infrared image sent to me by Mark Lander, taken at 15/1130 UTC, an eye appears to be forming; and in another image taken two hours later, a cloud-filled eye is clearly visible. After having reduced the MSW to 40 kts at 1200 UTC, JTWC abruptly increased the MSW to 65 kts at 1800 UTC. The 20-nm diameter eye was centered about 525 nm east of Okinawa at this time."
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Quoting AussieStorm:

How's ya thumb mate. Did ya stick it in ice to reduce the swelling and to help numb the pain?


Indeed aussie. The numbness is the worst part, and the cut runs under that last digit joint, so I may have to see da Doc if It stays numb.

I'm fine.

Thanx for the words though.

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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

interesting wave coming off Africa. Wonder how it will be in 24hrs?
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Quoting VAbeachhurricanes:


Because that is expensive? You think people have the money to right now to increase their food bill?

Look. I steer clear of political infighting for 6 years on a WEATHER blog, can't get a GOM ULL spinup word in edge-wise today amongst all the 'what on earth can we DO to stop GMOs?' crying; I propose - one post - figuring out a way to strengthen Whole Foods, the ONLY retailer committed to ending GMOs and I get a slew of complaints of how that's unreasonable and unfair and unrealistic and downright hegemonistic.

Teach me to take the political bait.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Nobody own for me to talk to tonight.I'm off.


What, I'm not good enough?

WELL FINE! FORGET YOU!
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Quoting gordydunnot:
Unfortunately Pat, I'm warning you don't live by my Motto, If your dumb you better be tough.


The USMC made me dat way permanently, 32 years ago gordy.

Thanx though.
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Quoting Patrap:


Some may have jumped the ol El Nino Gun, as its in Neutral AT present.

I do admit, I don't follow the Nino charts,indicators nor PDO as well.

I trend to the actual Cyclones as a play by Frame kinda guy.

skyepony and a few others keep me up to speed with it usually.

How's ya thumb mate. Did ya stick it in ice to reduce the swelling and to help numb the pain?
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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.

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