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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Quoting PalmBeacher1228:
Heading down to the Fla Keys Sunday anyone got any predictions on the weather??..... Will these systems be an issue??


I would think not.
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Heading down to the Fla Keys Sunday anyone got any predictions on the weather??..... Will these systems be an issue??
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Ah I just love how people are writing off the season so fast and Climo is winning right now(Ignorance is bliss right?).Climo is tri-winning right now.It's winning in shear,dry air,and their is upper-level lows all over the place.Just wait till August....I think we'll see development in the last part of July.We might have a dead July but we could have an active August.
Member Since: August 14, 2010 Posts: 10 Comments: 16981
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128347
Quoting spathy:


Thanks Pat

Thats the reason for my seemingly frantic flow of questions.

It's not going to FL. It's coming to Brownsville, TX.

That is, the low W of FL is going to GA then the CAs.

The low over the Yucatan is arranging to come to TX.
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Quoting spathy:

Hi Kori.
I hate to sound paranoid but is there shere in the central Gulf now?
It doesnt look like it from the sat loop.
If this developed wouldnt the prevailing flow take it West?
There is a minimal trough to the North but If this Spin in the Gulf At least stayed the same would it not head West?



The steering flow would probably take it into LA/MS. There is an upper low hanging off north coast of the Yucatan, but the position of the low relative to the Florida spin is such that any shear would be easterly, a diffluent situation conducive for intensification.
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Lower convergence
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Hi Guys, from 8 pm NHC Discussion:
...DISCUSSION...

THE GULF OF MEXICO...
SURFACE RIDGING IS OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO WITH AXIS ALONG 30N.
5-10 KT SOUTHERLY WINDS AND MOSTLY FAIR WEATHER ARE OVER THE GULF. AIRMASS THUNDERSTORMS ARE WELL INLAND OVER THE N GULF STATES. A TROPICAL WAVE IS OVER FLORIDA AND W CUBA. SEE ABOVE.
FURTHER W...AN OUTFLOW BOUNDARY EXTENDS FROM THE LOUISIANA COAST AT 30N92W TO THE TEXAS COAST AT 28N96W MOVING E. WIDELY SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION IS WITHIN 60 NM OF THE OUTFLOW BOUNDARY.

AN UPPER LEVEL LOW IS CENTERED OVER THE CENTRAL GULF NEAR 24N89W. RAIN AND SCATTERED SHOWERS ARE N OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA FROM 21N-27N BETWEEN 85W-91W. EXPECT THE TROPICAL WAVE TO MOVE W OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS WITH CONVECTION. ALSO EXPECT A SURFACE TROUGH TO BE OVER THE TEXAS COAST OVER THE NEXT 24 HOURS WITH CONVECTION.
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Quoting spathy:


Pat Good Idea!
Can you or someone else explain why we Had a Backwards pattern here in FM Florida?
All the local mets said our flow was going to be from the SSE towards the NNW.
Our storms today flowed from the Gulf onto land and headed East or ENE!
What caused that?
Some sort of Low in the Gulf?
ULL or what?


Hi Spathy -- I think the daytime heating combined with the vortex that was crossing east-to-west and exiting out of Tampa this evening, pulled some of our clouds more in the ENE direction.
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Quoting Patrap:
Er, maybe check out the Central GOM in the RGB loop

Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop

click image for Loop

Thanks for posting the Link Pat --- that is quite the little spinner! Certainly something to watch.
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721. MTWX
Quoting 1900hurricane:
We've been kinda wet the past few days.



We have gotten what I like to call "good rain" (light and steady/ soaks in instead of running off) here over the last few days too!

NWS Jackson 7 day totals

2-3" locally...
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I do not believe that we have any surface reflection...yet.

But in that area, things can go Bada Boom given time.

Tis one to watch
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128347
Fabio up to 60 mph.

EP, 06, 2012071300, , BEST, 0, 137N, 1086W, 50, 998, TS,
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32080
Still don't see much development with the Gulf system, if at all. The low-level wind field is perhaps a little better defined today, but otherwise...
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Emilia down to 80kts... No more eye...

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Now here's some lovely camping weather...

-------------------------------------------------

... Second warmest low temperature ever recorded at Death Valley on
record...

The low temperature at the official Death Valley weather station in
furnace creek this morning only fell to 107 degrees. This breaks the
record for the highest minimum temperature for July 12th of 100
degrees set in 1931.

The low of 107 degrees this morning is the second warmest minimum
temperature ever recorded at Death Valley since records started in
June 1911. Only July 5th 1918... when the low temperature fell to 110
degrees has been warmer. The last time Death Valley recorded a low
of 105 degrees or greater was on July 11th 1920. A low of 101 was
recorded on July 19th 2010 and this was the last time a minimum in
the triple digits was recorded in Death Valley.

The above information is preliminary and is subject to a final
review before being certified by the National climatic data center.
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Station 42001 (LLNR 1400) - MID GULF 180 nm South of Southwest Pass, LA


Conditions at 42001 as of
(6:50 pm CDT)
2350 GMT on 07/12/2012:

Unit of Measure: Time Zone:
Click on the graph icon in the table below to see a time series plot of the last five days of that observation.

Wind Direction (WDIR): S ( 170 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 1.9 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 3.9 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 1.3 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 6 sec
Average Period (APD): 4.4 sec
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.99 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): +0.00 in ( Steady )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 84.7 °F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 86.9 °F
Dew Point (DEWP): 72.0 °F
Heat Index (HEAT): 90.5 °F
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128347
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
nite all
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730
Heading into Dickson TN today I have never seen such low level clouds, these must have been maybe a 1k off the ground...

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Quoting EstherD:



NONSENSE! EBT gives you a FIXED amount of cash to spend. If you spend it on food that costs twice as much, then you get half as much to eat.

So don't hand-wring all day about how to end GMOs if you don't want solutions offered to you. You're either serious about ending them or you aren't.
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1950 6 N MOORE HAVEN AMZ610 FL 2692 8110 CORRECTION TO PREVIOUS REPORT ... GLADES COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT REPORTED A TORNADO TOUCHING DOWN IN GLADES COUNTY ABOUT 6 MILES NORTH OF MOORE HAVEN.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
We've been kinda wet the past few days.

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Quoting TampaFLUSA:

Whole foods is expensive.

Quoting redwagon:

Not for the EBT crowd, it's free.


NONSENSE! EBT gives you a FIXED amount of cash to spend. If you spend it on food that costs twice as much, then you get half as much to eat.
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female = ironman

Fe = iron

male= man
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Er, maybe check out the Central GOM in the RGB loop

Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop

click image for Loop

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128347
Wave coming off Africa looks interesting but won't develope.
Quoting PRweathercenter:

Too much SAL, later this month
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Yah but he is really good looking so much so that he has a large female following.



not so hot anymore i guess
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699. MTWX
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


hasnt been 1


What do you mean?

Hasn't been a Blog???

Looks like the first entry was 22 March 2011..

Been up for over a year and a half, with little following..

But then again, if a new post only came out every few months, I probably wouldn't follow either! LOL!!
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698. JLPR2
Quoting PRweathercenter:

Too much SAL, later this month


Leaning more towards mid-late August.
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Quoting PlazaRed:

Thanks for that one B.
Things are not bad at all on the ground here we all have plenty to eat and the sun shines all the time of course.
We worked out last week that if we can get about $50 a week, or about 40 Euros, per person that's quite enough and although things are grim in the cities most of us here are not in them, or if we are, we still are not too far from the city limits of them.
I am bothered by the climate change not for us as we are well south and in a land of plenty but I really feel the need for us to support some of the nations with inadequate food supplies and the needs to import lots of energy.
We have about 20% now from renewables and increasing all the time. I myself havent bought electricity for over 5 years due to my solar systems.
Water reserves are down to about 60% of capacity here now but thats OK for the short term.


Love your attitude and commitment, Plaza, really. And if it will still get worse: Our region near Frankfurt (Hassia) announced a treaty with Madrid today to invite scilled workers to Germany. We don't have enough right now, go figure. Good night from rainy and cool Germany, I have to sleep.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


thats why i put it there
That is really funny and here is Fabio in TS form: Which one looks better?
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Hurricane Bertha made landfall here in North Carolina on this day in 1996.

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Gulf Of Mexico - Rainbow Loop

click image for loop

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Quoting JLPR2:
Neat low with this TW, but basically no convection.

Too much SAL, later this month
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


ok thx,
seems like an incredibly unimportant person.
Yah but he is really good looking so much so that he has a large female following.
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


ok i fixed it.
who is fabio anyway

He was something to do with the English Football thing and now the Russians want to talk to him.

"The former England manager Fabio Capello has met Russian football officials to discuss the possibility of coaching the national team."
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Quoting MTWX:


Have you looked at their blog section?

I think I can hear the crickets chirping....

The last blog entry was a month ago, and the highest number of comments for any entry I saw on the page was 131...

Don't think we have too much to worry about their bloggers taking over here!! LOL!


hasnt been 1
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


ok i fixed it.
who is fabio anyway
Thanks, Emilia is my cousin:)
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Interesting looking line of south of the border!!
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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


ok i fixed it.
who is fabio anyway


He's most known for the incident on the rollercoaster where a bird hit him or something.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
An actor/model. Link


ok thx,
seems like an incredibly unimportant person.
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9730

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.