Canada's 2nd Largest Fire on Record Spreading Smoke to Europe

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:14 PM GMT on July 13, 2013

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A massive fire burning in northern Quebec is Canada's second largest fire since fire records began in 1959, according to the Canadian Forest Service. The fire was more than twice the size of Rhode Island on Tuesday--1,621,000 acres. Called the Eastmain fire, the near-record blaze was ignited by lightning on May 25, and was burning along a 100-km front near the east shore of James Bay by the village of Eastmain. At times, the fire spread at 19 mph (30 kph). The fire cut power to Montreal's subway system and to 10% of the population of Quebec (500,000 customers) on July 4, when smoke from the fire ionized the air by key hydroelectric power lines, causing a cascade failure.


Figure 1. On July 4, 2013, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image of wildfires burning in western Quebec near James Bay. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fire. The Eastmain fire, which became the 2nd largest fire since 1959 in Canada at 1.6 million acres, is at the upper left of the image, just east of James Bay. Other fires near Nemiscau, Quebec (about 150 - 200 km to the southeast of Eastmain) are also burning, but these patches are "only" 120,000 - 200,000 acres. MODIS also observed smoke from the fires moving across the Atlantic Ocean on July 5, July 6, and July 7. By July 8, smoke was drifting over Scandinavia. Image credit: NASA.

The largest fire in Canadian history was the 2,119,000 acre fire that burned in 1979 in the Northwest Territories. For comparison, the total acreage burned by wildfires in the U.S. as of July 4, 2013 was 1.9 million acres, so the Eastmain fire by itself has burned almost as large an area. The fire's spread is being limited by the Opinaca Reservoir on its east, and by areas burned in 2002 to the south. The fire spread rapidly last week into a patch along its northern and northeastern sides that burned in 1989 (click hereto see the very impressive spread of the fire between 16:45 UTC and 18:22 UTC last Thursday from the Suomi NPP VIIRS shortwave IR instrument; look on the northeastern front of the fire, which is inside the former 1989 fire patch--it spreads extraordinarily rapidly at approximately 10 mph.) While cool and relatively wet weather is expected in Quebec during the coming week, keeping fire danger low, there is speculation by some Canadian fire experts that the Eastmain fire will burn the entire summer unless there are a significant number of consecutive rainy days.


Figure 2. Dr. Jason Box extracts a core sample from the Greenland Ice Sheet on July 9, 2013, during the DarkSnow Project. The core will be analyzed to determine if smoke from wildfires is contributing to melting of the ice sheet by darkening it.

Canadian fire smoke reaches Europe
Smoke from this summer's fires in Quebec have crossed the Atlantic and reached Scandanavia, according to ScienceDaily.com. The smoke also passed over Greenland when the crowd source-funded DarkSnow Project was taking samples of the Greenland ice. The DarkSnow Project was designed to see if forest fires are significantly darkening the Greenland Ice Sheet, contributing to melt.

Climate change and fire suppression in Canada
Fire suppression policies are different in Canada than in the U.S. In areas where these fire are burning, there is no direct fire suppression unless fire is near villages and hydroelectric facilities. Nevertheless, fire suppression costs $500 million per year in Canada. "In areas with high timber or other values, a full fire-suppression response is used in attempts to control fires as quickly as possible. In areas with low values at risk to fire, a modified fire-suppression response, which attempts to control fires in a limited way, is usually used: isolated values threatened by fire are protected, or the fire is simply monitored. While only 5% of the fires detected during 1990–2004 received a modified response, they accounted for about 60% of the area burned " (Hirsch et al., 2006.)
 
Fire suppression efficiency depends on many factors, including fire danger, the size at which the fire is attacked, and the number of fires already burning. According to Cummings (2005) and Martell and Sun (2008), fire suppression can significantly reduce area burned in boreal forests. Fire suppression can reduce area burned by means of initial attack, which reduces the number of large fires. Consequently, fire suppression agencies are efficient when the fire danger is low and when there is not that much fire already burning, a situation that will be less common in the near future. For Ontario, Podur and Wotton (2010) projected "a doubling of area burned in the Intensive and Measured fire management zones of Ontario by the decade of 2040, and an eightfold increase in area burned by the end of the 21st century" due to climate change (IPCC A2 scenario.) Fires that are too intense to control will overwhelm the fire management system and cause major increases in area burned.

Another study (Boulanger et al. 2013) predicted for 2040 in eastern Canada a 2.2- and 2.4-fold increase in the number of fires and the annual area burned, respectively, mostly as a result of an increase in extreme fire-weather normals and drought. As extreme fire danger would occur later in the fire season on average, the fire season would shift slightly later (5–20 days) in the summer. However, if broadleaf species become more common in this area as a result of climate change, this may offset the climate change impact on drought, as broadleaf trees are less flammable than coniferous trees (Girardin et al. 2013).


Video 1. Maxime Duperré, traveling in a truck near Nemiscau, Quebec, took this video of one of the massive fires burning in Quebec this July.

References
 Boulanger, Y., Gauthier, S., Gray, D. R., Le Goff, H., Lefort, P., Morissette, J. 2013. Fire regime zonation under curent and future climate over eastern Canada. Ecol. Appl. 23: 904-923. 
 
Cumming, S.G. 2005. Effective fire suppression in the boreal forests. Can. J. For. Res. 35: 772-786.
 
Girardin, M.P., Ali, A. A., Carcaillet, C., Blarquez, O., Hély, C., Terrier, A., Genries, A., Bergeron, Y. 2013. Vegetation limits the impact of a warm climate on boreal wildfires. New Phytologist (In Press).
 
Hirsch, K.G.; Fuglem, P., Technical Coordinators. 2006. Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy: background syntheses, analyses, and perspectives. Can. Counc. For. Minist., Nat. Resour. Can., Can. For. Serv., North. For. Cent., Edmonton, AB.
 
Martell, D. and Sun, H. 2008. The impact of fire suppression, vegetation, and weather on the area burned by lightning-caused fires in Ontario. Can. J. For. Res. 38:1547-1563.
 
D. Podur, J. and Wotton, B. M. 2010. Will climate change overwhelm fire management capacity ? Ecological Modelling 221:1301-1309

A tough year for natural disasters in Canada
This summer's huge fires in Quebec have been caused by what is being called the driest summer in 40 years in the James Bay region. However, other portions of Canada have received record rains that have triggered two of the most damaging floods in Canadian history. The first of these floods hit Calgary, Alberta in mid-June, causing $3.8 billion in damage--the most expensive flood ever to hit Canada, and the second most expensive natural disaster of any kind. And on July 8, Toronto was hit with its heaviest 1-day rainfall on record, with a preliminary damage estimate by an official from the Insurance Bureau of Canada of $600 million, which would make it the 4th costliest flood in Canadian history. Here are the top five most damaging floods in Canada, with the non-bold faced entries taken from EM-DAT (unadjusted for inflation):

1) $3.8 billion, June 2013, Calgary, Alberta
2) $0.8 billion, May 2011, St. Andrew, Manitoba
3) $0.7 billion, July 1996, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, Quebec
4) $0.6 billion, July 2013, Toronto, Ontario
5) $0.4 billion, June 2005, Alberta

The Atlantic is quiet
The Atlantic is relatively quiet. A small non-tropical area of low pressure is developing near the coast of Alabama along a stalled-out cold front, and the remains of Chantal are moving northwards towards the North Carolina coast. Neither of these areas appears to be of concern, and in their 8 am EDT Saturday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave both of these areas a 10% chance of development into a tropical depression or tropical storm by Monday. None of the reliable computer models are predicting development of of anything in the Atlantic over the next seven days. If conditions remain quiet, my next post will be on Monday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting beell:


I submitted "Give your weather the finger" as the ad slogan but it did not make the cut.
lol
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Quoting beell:


One of xChantal's rejects?


Not quite sure, moving at a decent clip tho
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Quoting 37. barbamz:
Great blog, Dr. Masters, thank you.

Earth observatory has been monitoring the canadian smoke over the Atlantic, finally reaching the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea (pic see below), for already three weeks. Guys in a german weatherblog earlier were speculating about those ominous cloud pattern in those regions.


Smoke from Canada over northern Spain, June 27th.


June, 23. Check out this site too with additional informations.


There is a weather blog in German? Can you send me the link. I am on a Norwegian one, but all they ever talk about is snow.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26137
Quoting 119. Tropicsweatherpr:


I am prepared here for anything mother nature brings. It will be a wild ride for sure.


Yes,i'm also prepared, Chantal dissipated just right before landfall, and the people here in Dominican Republic are saying that the storms are deviates just when is imminent the landfall , Because happened with Emily 2011,Isaac 2012 and now with Chantal...My concern is that this year we definitely are in dangerous situation, the Bermudas High is persistent and is rebuilding fast..The C.V storms this year are going to go far to the west..
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139. beell
Quoting 135. tornadodude:


One of xChantal's rejects?
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Quoting 129. LAbonbon:



Zampaz - I think perhaps you're thinking of the Taylor Energy spill still on-going from Ivan?

Link


Well I didn't know that the rig has been leaking since Hurricaine Ivan..
Like I said..
Strange how some companies are held to one standard and others are invisible..
Is that just me thinking again or?
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Everyone enjoy the rest of the weekend and see Yall on Monday at some point............WW.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9134
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Quoting 64. stormchaser19:


Yes but last week of july will start the action again and with the MJO pulse entering our zone, August would be pretty active..


That's the forecast.. activity picks up late July early August. Not expecting much 7-10 days.
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Quoting 114. ChillinInTheKeys:


Maybe this pcola...

"Company Seals Gas Well Leak off Louisiana Coast".



Link



Yep thats it ChillinInTheKeys..
Glad it made the WU news..
These events are whats killing the marine life in the mid and lower layers..
I wonder why one company is held to one standard and another is invisible..
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the wave near Cape Verde has great spin to it....just to much dry air right now....the blob in the Caribbean appears to be waning
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Quoting 99. zampaz:

I have an idea, but I'm embarassed that I don't know the name of the Hurricane that erased a rig, and moved so much sand and mud beneath the rig that the pipes were broken and buried. They put a concrete dome over what was left of the mess because they couldn't dig it out to repair it. It's got a leak now that has been showing up on the surface as a thin sheen...barrels a day not hundreds or thousands...but enough to warrant repair.
Now that I've demonstrated my ignorance I shall go hide.
Hopefully someone will remember the facts.



Zampaz - I think perhaps you're thinking of the Taylor Energy spill still on-going from Ivan?

Link
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nice picture of the tropical wave
Member Since: March 12, 2013 Posts: 17 Comments: 32471
Quoting 125. JrWeathermanFL:
West Caribbean seems interesting. Is that a spin? And Ex-Chantal doesn't look half bad.


Yep check Grand Cayman radar
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126. 7544
Quoting 116. E46Pilot:
South Florida Radar is all lit up today.


and lots more comin up north from western cuba all thanks to ex chantel lol
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West Caribbean seems interesting. Is that a spin? And Ex-Chantal doesn't look half bad.
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Goodnight folk... stay dry.
I'll try to stay warm. brrrrr

Cheers
;-)
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Wow you can now see a definitive spin on Grand Cayman Radar just SW-WSW of Grand Cayman
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122. beell
Quoting 111. Progster:


you can pick your loop or your nose!


So real you can smell the weather on your fingers
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Quoting 91. Grothar:


thanks guys !!!
Member Since: July 4, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 192
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Quoting 118. CybrTeddy:
Looking across the Atlantic today, nothing is likely to develop within the next 10 days. We're in for a rather boring lull in activity, but this is going to change in one heck of a hurry. Everything (to me) suggests that once we hit early-August as the MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation phase for those unfamiliar with the terminology) we will begin to see strong tropical waves entering a more favorable environment. The unusual activity with tropical waves we've been seeing the last two months reminds me of 2007, 2008, and 2010. All of these years featured high trade winds in July. These trade winds will, naturally, begin to diminish throughout the month.

This year will be interesting, to say the least.


I am prepared here for anything mother nature brings. It will be a wild ride for sure.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14261
Looking across the Atlantic today, nothing is likely to develop within the next 10 days. We're in for a rather boring lull in activity, but this is going to change in one heck of a hurry. Everything (to me) suggests that once we hit early-August as the MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation phase for those unfamiliar with the terminology) we will begin to see strong tropical waves entering a more favorable environment. The unusual activity with tropical waves we've been seeing the last two months reminds me of 2007, 2008, and 2010. All of these years featured high trade winds in July. These trade winds will, naturally, begin to diminish throughout the month.

This year will be interesting, to say the least.
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Quoting 115. hurricanes2018:
From now into early next week, you could say the atmosphere has shifted into reverse gear

Typically, weather systems move from west to east in the United States and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. This will not be the case over the next four to five days as we track an area of low pressure moving in the reverse direction from the eastern states towards the southwestern states. It's not unheard of to see a weather system move east to west in the United States, but it's certainly not common. You can see how this pattern evolves in the animation to the right with low pressure (red "L") getting shoved westward by high pressure building in to its north and east.

This is the second odd July weather pattern this month. Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, an area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere got stuck over the South and brought daily bouts of showers and thunderstorms that caused flooding from the Gulf Coast to the Appalachians and Ohio Valley.

Next, let's dig into the potential benefits and possible dangers from this latest strange weather pattern.

A few things (My prediction for this weather pattern. )
1. A hurricane will hit the east coast.
2. My area will be so dry that any storms that form will dry up as soon as they do.
3. Nothing will happen.
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South Florida Radar is all lit up today.
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From now into early next week, you could say the atmosphere has shifted into reverse gear

Typically, weather systems move from west to east in the United States and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. This will not be the case over the next four to five days as we track an area of low pressure moving in the reverse direction from the eastern states towards the southwestern states. It's not unheard of to see a weather system move east to west in the United States, but it's certainly not common. You can see how this pattern evolves in the animation to the right with low pressure (red "L") getting shoved westward by high pressure building in to its north and east.

This is the second odd July weather pattern this month. Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, an area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere got stuck over the South and brought daily bouts of showers and thunderstorms that caused flooding from the Gulf Coast to the Appalachians and Ohio Valley.

Next, let's dig into the potential benefits and possible dangers from this latest strange weather pattern.
Member Since: March 12, 2013 Posts: 17 Comments: 32471
Quoting 76. pcola57:


Interesting discussion for sure canehater1..
Really strange weather patterns..

Here's something that caught my eye and will share..

"snip"


.DECISION SUPPORT...
DSS CODE...BLUE.
DEPLOYED...SWERV TO WV.
ACTIVATION...NONE.
ACTIVITIES...SLURRY SUPPORT
SUPPORT FOR GAS LEAK IN GULF


Anyone want to share any info on the gas leak?


Maybe this pcola...

"Company Seals Gas Well Leak off Louisiana Coast".



Link

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Here's a report from CNN on the gas leak in the GOM..

Link
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Quoting 110. bappit:

And all this time I thought they were singing "shadooby".


I love the word..sounds vaguely dirty but its not, except for the sandstorm bit.
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Quoting 108. beell:


I submitted "Give your weather the finger" as the ad slogan but it did not make the cut.


you can pick your loop or your nose!
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Quoting 105. Progster:


Models drift the low centre as far as southern AZ by next Thursday eve. Could be a pretty "habooby" couple of days later next week for Arizonans.

And all this time I thought they were singing "shadooby".
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There's a bunch of fires in Canada on that pic and that one. The blog is all about the largest one, but if you look at the pics, there are so many.
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108. beell


I submitted "Give your weather the finger" as the ad slogan but it did not make the cut.
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Quoting 101. Levi32:
Good morning.

Blog update:

Quick weekend video update on the tropics for the rest of July
Levi you think the SST will hold positive over the atlantic for the peak of the season?
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Quoting 99. zampaz:

I have an idea, but I'm embarassed that I don't know the name of the Hurricane that erased a rig, and moved so much sand and mud beneath the rig that the pipes were broken and buried. They put a concrete dome over what was left of the mess because they couldn't dig it out to repair it. It's got a leak now that has been showing up on the surface as a thin sheen...barrels a day not hundreds or thousands...but enough to warrant repair.
Now that I've demonstrated my ignorance I shall go hide.
Hopefully someone will remember the facts.


Thanks zampaz..
I'm thinking it's not the Ex-DeepWater Horizon rig..
Leaks like this seem to go by un-noticed..
I think it's a terrible thing when a gas leak in the GOM is swept under the rug or minimalized..again..
I will try to see what I can dig up on it..
If anything.. :(
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Quoting 96. tornadodude:


Small chance of a tornado or two in the Tennessee Valley today as this low retrogrades.

Pretty crazy pattern




Models drift the low centre as far as southern AZ by next Thursday eve. Could be a pretty "habooby" couple of days later next week for Arizonans.
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anyhoo..

I might just stick around now..
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the weather here in Roatan is very very still and overcast with rumbles of thunder in the distance.
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Good morning.

Blog update:

Quick weekend video update on the tropics for the rest of July
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A reminder of the early season forecast for this year from CSU:

Perhaps of greatest consequence is the likelihood of a major land-falling U.S. hurricane, according to Philip J. Klotzbach and William M. Gray, the atmospheric scientists responsible for CSU’s forecasting. Taking current evidence of oceanic temperatures and other factors into account, Klotzbach and Gray estimate a 72-percent chance at least one of these storms will strengthen to a major hurricane and make landfall somewhere on the U.S. coast from Texas to Maine.

They and all of the other expert outlets missed the mark last year in terms of what actually materialized in terms of majors..........Will be interesting again to see how this year ends up.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9134
Quoting 76. pcola57:


Interesting discussion for sure canehater1..
Really strange weather patterns..

Here's something that caught my eye and will share..

"snip"


.DECISION SUPPORT...
DSS CODE...BLUE.
DEPLOYED...SWERV TO WV.
ACTIVATION...NONE.
ACTIVITIES...SLURRY SUPPORT
SUPPORT FOR GAS LEAK IN GULF


Anyone want to share any info on the gas leak?

I have an idea, but I'm embarassed that I don't know the name of the Hurricane that erased a rig, and moved so much sand and mud beneath the rig that the pipes were broken and buried. They put a concrete dome over what was left of the mess because they couldn't dig it out to repair it. It's got a leak now that has been showing up on the surface as a thin sheen...barrels a day not hundreds or thousands...but enough to warrant repair.
Now that I've demonstrated my ignorance I shall go hide.
Hopefully someone will remember the facts.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:


Is that a spin on the radar SW of Grand Cayman?

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Quoting 82. CybrTeddy:


An extra-tropical Category 1.

LOL as if wind speed tells the story. Curse SaffirSimpson and their Beaufort scale obsession!
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Small chance of a tornado or two in the Tennessee Valley today as this low retrogrades.

Pretty crazy pattern


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Quoting 92. Grothar:


You promise??


that wasn't nice to say..
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Quoting Sfloridacat5:
Luckily rain rate has dropped to .58" per hour.

Nothing at all happening in SE AL. I'm not sure why Dr. Master mentioned the low forming off the coast of Alabama, since that would imply somewhere around Mobile, but it looks pretty clear from radar that the low is forming off the Big Bend area. I'm hoping the low retrogrades west before it drifts north again so we can some rain out if it in Alabama.
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Vertical Instability in the tropical Atlantic is rising, may get the normal line soon....
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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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