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

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

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 1118. LargoFl:
yes my daughter etc is driving down, coming thru jacksonville right now, i told her to take I-10 to I-75 then come southward..hopefully they will miss some of the real bad rains on the east coast side..she says there are some really bad accidents along I-95 with the bad rains
Had to drive through some really bad afternoon showers on I-75 in southern GA one summer a few years ago... I was amazed at the way people just kept going at 65 + mph just like aquaplaning was not a physical possibility... I slowed and eventually pulled over because I couldn't see. When I did get back on the road, there was a 90 minute backup S of Macon because there had been a multi-car accident up ahead in the rain....

Hope your daughter can stay safe.
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Quoting 1177. sar2401:

Your lawns must be about to take over your houses.


It's been tough to keep up. Two years ago we couldn't buy a drop of rain. This year, we're not only way above normal, there's no end in sight. I do agree until that high finally makes a move, these hit and miss storms are going to continue daily.

It hasn't been a great weather summer for Pensacola Beach.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1181. MechEngMet:


I know they're not isolated. My question said noting about isolation. It is a question of forcing functions...

Which is the engine and which is the caboose?
Well, the two have a self-amplifying effect, so the answer isn't so cut and dried as some might wish. But the bottom line is that overall warming of the climate has melted the ice cap to the point that a new energy source has been suddenly unleashed into the atmosphere, and the jet stream, following the laws of thermo- and fluid dynamics, is responding in kind.

Now, just wait until all the ice is gone, and summer's solar energy is used less and less for melting winter's cover, and moved more and more into long-term storage. That's when the "fun" will really start...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1189. zampaz
Quoting 1178. no1der:
Let's just say that the published, politically-moderated, conservative modeling such as in the IPCC reports has greatly underestimated the rate of change esp. in the Arctic. As was known and expected by many.
The biggest question now is, by how much has the rate of melt of the Greenland been similarly underestimated. Understanding the collapse dynamics of Greenland Ice Sheet should be a first-order international research priority. 
Rational planning for an orderly retreat from the world coastline depends on accurate and realistic projections of sea level rise, much of which will come from Greenland over the next few decades.





Darksnow had to funded by donations.
It's not in the best interest of the "Men Behind the Curtain" for us to know the science.
Reality will change the public's perception of both science and politics. At the expense of tragic loss.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1182. pensacolastorm:
Any comments on the two swirls in the northern GOM? One at the mouth of the Mississippi and the other of the coast of NW FL.


Yes, read back a bit. The FL swirlie was discussed as early as 6:30 AM CDT. The LA swirlie was mentioned some time after that.
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1187. 62901IL
Quoting 1185. Patrap:
Gulf Of Mexico - Rainbow Loop

click the box "Fronts" to see the Lows

Great.
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Quoting 1182. pensacolastorm:
Any comments on the two swirls in the northern GOM? One at the mouth of the Mississippi and the other of the coast of NW FL.



may be if you read back a few pages you find the info you may be looking for on them
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1185. Patrap
Gulf Of Mexico - Rainbow Loop

click the box "Fronts" to see the Lows
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Quoting 1156. sar2401:

No, of course not, you are the only one who does homework. At all. But you could look at the actual water temperatures in the Gulf and compare the current temperatures to the average for July. The eastern Gulf temperatures are from slightly to significantly below average. The western Gulf is slightly below average to average, with a few stations reporting above average. Or, you could use graphics which show the Gulf is in the 80's, which is perfectly normal for July, and simply ignore the fact that the TCHP is below average for almost the entire Gulf.

Lordy...
Or you could use graphics that show temperature anomalies, and it'll be very obvious that the western Gulf is nowhere close to "slightly below average to average" (save for that small lobe at the mouth of the Rio Grande). In fact, the positive anomalies in the GoM cover roughly twice the area that the negative anomalies do:

SST
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1183. Patrap
Sampling Greenland: The Dark Snow Project
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Any comments on the two swirls in the northern GOM? One at the mouth of the Mississippi and the other of the coast of NW FL.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1175. zampaz:

They go hand in hand. Systems are not isolated.
The video Pat shared has a very good explanation of Jet Stream and the relation to the Arctic.


I know they're not isolated. My question said noting about isolation. It is a question of forcing functions...

Which is the engine and which is the caboose?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1180. 62901IL
I hope my area (the area with the zip code of 62901) gets some storms later. Nothing severe today, tho.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1179. Patrap
Published on Jun 23, 2013
Follow ClimateState on facebook for more climate research https://www.facebook.com/ClimateState

This video is part of a Climate Desk event "Climate Desk Live 06/06/13: The Alarming Science Behind Climate Change's Increasingly Wild Weather" featuring top climate researcher Jennifer Francis.

Watch the full event (including Stu Ostro on atmospheric thickness) here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-RDE...

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
1178. no1der
Let's just say that the published, politically-moderated, conservative modeling such as in the IPCC reports has greatly underestimated the rate of change esp. in the Arctic. As was known and expected by many.
The biggest question now is, by how much has the rate of melt of Greenland been similarly underestimated? Understanding the collapse dynamics of Greenland Ice Sheet should be a first-order international research priority. 
Rational planning for an orderly retreat from the world coastline depends on accurate and realistic projections of sea level rise, much of which will come from Greenland over the next few decades.



Quoting 1149. Patrap:
As the trends go, we will see a Arctic free of Summer ice, as early as 2015-16


As I've stated since 2007, all the Major Climate Modeling has underplayed the warming and its toll on the Planet.

What was modeled to be occurring in 50 years, is happening this decade.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1177. sar2401
Quoting WXGulfBreeze:


We've been picking up nothing but mojo for the past month+ in the Pensacola region. I'd be very happy for a couple of back-to-back rain free days. Was out mowing the lawn a few minutes ago, and a storm popped up right above my head. Didn't move in from anywhere, just popped up according to radar. Waiting for it to pass right now.

Definitely been wet in Santa Rosa, Escambia, and Okaloosa counties in Florida this year. The GOM is active. A harbinger of things to come later this summer?

We got one of those weird mini-blobs right over my head last night, from about midnight until 2:00 am. It was only affecting a small part of SE Alabama, but that small part was right over my house. Picked up a little more than an inch in those two hours. I don't understand the dynamics of that little blob, but it appears to have been a piece of energy from the trough in the Gulf as it moved west. It seems as if the Panhandle in general is under the influence of that huge A-B high that keeps sucking moisture out of the Gulf and depositing it over the Panhandle. Until that high finally weakens and meves east, I think it will be more of the same for you guys. I'm just pleased that we occasionally get some of it up here, since July is normally one of our driest months. I'm sure you guys must be really sick of it. I cut my lawn yesterday and, if I had a hay baler, I could have made a few extra bucks selling about 15 bales worth. Your lawns must be about to take over your houses.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1176. Dakster
Quoting 1118. LargoFl:
yes my daughter etc is driving down, coming thru jacksonville right now, i told her to take I-10 to I-75 then come southward..hopefully they will miss some of the real bad rains on the east coast side..she says there are some really bad accidents along I-95 with the bad rains


According to FHP there are no accidents on I-95 right now. Atlantic Blvd is having some issues and so is Blanding Ave. (Flooding - road closed).
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 12635
1175. zampaz
Quoting 1163. MechEngMet:


Uhm, Cause and effect question here guys. Is the climate changing the jet stream, or is the jet stream changing the climate? anyone, anyone....

They go hand in hand. Systems are not isolated.
The video Pat shared has a very good explanation of Jet Stream and the relation to the Arctic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1174. Patrap
WAVCIS GOM 120 Hour Water Surface Temperature Forecast Model
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
1173. GatorWX
Quoting 1166. Astrometeor:
Yo Pat, what about this? Look in GOM please.



I don't know if I would totally focus on temperatures this year aside from the mdr. Just sayin'
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1172. Patrap
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Quoting 1167. Patrap:


The lowering of the Pressure Gradients due to Climate change is making the Jet do what were seeing today.

The embed Video ,with Dr. Masters and the others show that in great detail.


Is there anything else that can "lower the pressure gradients"?
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Quoting 1153. Patrap:




I like the Bremen Sea Ice Concentration map better, the colors add a lot of emphasis.


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1169. Patrap
I see the coo anomaly in the NE GOM.
I check them daily.


Plenty of TCHP in the GOM transit lanes for a Major..easily.

They dont form in the NE GOM in July usually.

Last I checked.

Should I ?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
1168. GatorWX
Quoting 1157. Patrap:


That is zactly the issue.

A Highly amplified Jet, due to Climate Change.

Climate, Ice, and Weather Whiplash



Absolutely perfect video btw.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1167. Patrap
Quoting 1163. MechEngMet:


Uhm, Cause and effect question here guys. Is the climate changing the jet stream, or is the jet stream changing the climate? anyone, anyone....


The lowering of the Pressure Gradients due to Climate change is making the Jet do what were seeing today.

The embed Video ,with Dr. Masters and the others show that in great detail.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Yo Pat, what about this? Look in GOM please.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1165. Patrap



Gulf Of Mexico - False Color RGB Loop
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
1164. GatorWX
Quoting 1157. Patrap:


That is zactly the issue.

A Highly amplified Jet, due to Climate Change.

Climate, Ice, and Weather Whiplash



I see it, I agree with it, but that's about all I can say or may get lambasted by someone whom, for whatever reason, doesn't believe.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1157. Patrap:


That is zactly the issue.

A Highly amplified Jet, due to Climate Change.

Climate, Ice, and Weather Whiplash



Uhm, Cause and effect question here guys. Is the climate changing the jet stream, or is the jet stream changing the climate? anyone, anyone....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Alert about the upcomming winter in the east. The combo of a warming pacific and a warm atlantic favors a very cold winter for the east coast. Also an early spring tripole favors a cold winter as well,so some signs of that.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1161. Patrap
Quoting 1157. Patrap:




Quoting 1156. sar2401:

No, of course not, you are the only one who does homework. At all. But you could look at the actual water temperatures in the Gulf and compare the current temperatures to the average for July. The the eastern Gulf temperatres are from slightly to significantly below average. The western Gulf is slightly below average to average, with a few stations reporting above average. Or, you could use graphics which show the Gulf is in the 80's, which is perfectly normal for July, and simply ignore the fact that the TCHP is below average for almost the entire Gulf.

Lordy...


Your way off still.

Climatology is right on to above . So feel free to show your data here.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
1160. GatorWX
Quoting 1133. SFLWeatherman:


....slowly the homegrown comes together. lol, we'll see.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1145. Patrap:
Lotsa Mojo out in the Miss Sound and N GOM.





We've been picking up nothing but mojo for the past month+ in the Pensacola region. I'd be very happy for a couple of back-to-back rain free days. Was out mowing the lawn a few minutes ago, and a storm popped up right above my head. Didn't move in from anywhere, just popped up according to radar. Waiting for it to pass right now.

Definitely been wet in Santa Rosa, Escambia, and Okaloosa counties in Florida this year. The GOM is active. A harbinger of things to come later this summer?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1158. drs2008
Quoting 1094. Grothar:


Thanks, I try to keep it simple. I am actually one of the best forecasters on here, but everyone only notices my jokes. I keep it simple because as a kid I could never keep my ULL's and MJO's straight. And to us a TUTT was a king; and a baroclinic high....well that is for another blog.
hey Gro,when i was in college,university of miami,the everglades caught on fire. I believe in was 1972.were you there then? Was there a drought?there was smoke in the are,every morning.
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1157. Patrap
Quoting 1152. HurricaneHunterJoe:
Good Morning Fellow Tropical Weather Enthusiasts!


Quoting 1110. nofailsafe:
The retrograding trough over Missouri right now is one of the stranger things I've seen this time of year. Two years ago it was a death ridge so impenetrable that it completely annihilated a tropical storm to the point that barely any measurable precipitation was picked up at Brownsville, this year it's flooding rains in the southeast and now some weird trough that plans on making a summer house in Mexico...

Is this possibly due to polar jet issues?


That is zactly the issue.

A Highly amplified Jet, due to Climate Change.

Climate, Ice, and Weather Whiplash

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
1156. sar2401
Quoting Patrap:
Anyone who hinks the GOM is running below avg on SST's ain't done his homework, at all.






No, of course not, you are the only one who does homework. At all. But you could look at the actual water temperatures in the Gulf and compare the current temperatures to the average for July. The eastern Gulf temperatures are from slightly to significantly below average. The western Gulf is slightly below average to average, with a few stations reporting above average. Or, you could use graphics which show the Gulf is in the 80's, which is perfectly normal for July, and simply ignore the fact that the TCHP is below average for almost the entire Gulf.

Lordy...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1155. zampaz
Quoting 1149. Patrap:
As the trends go, we will see a Arctic free of Summer ice, as early as 2015-16


As I've stated since 2007, all the Major Climate Modeling has underplayed the warming and its toll on the Planet.

What was modeled to be occurring in 50 years, is happening this decade.

I agree with reality.
Reality indicates Pat is right.
Models are based upon abstractions of what we know.
What we don't know we'll find out but we're playing catch up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 1151. TropicalAnalystwx13:
Might have to watch the East Atlantic during the final days of July as some have suggested the past few days. GFS and CFS ensembles are starting to light up.




But will the operational wake up?
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1153. Patrap


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Good Morning Fellow Tropical Weather Enthusiasts!


Quoting 1110. nofailsafe:
The retrograding trough over Missouri right now is one of the stranger things I've seen this time of year. Two years ago it was a death ridge so impenetrable that it completely annihilated a tropical storm to the point that barely any measurable precipitation was picked up at Brownsville, this year it's flooding rains in the southeast and now some weird trough that plans on making a summer house in Mexico...

Is this possibly due to polar jet issues?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Might have to watch the East Atlantic during the final days of July as some have suggested the past few days. GFS and CFS ensembles are starting to light up.


Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 128 Comments: 35627
@1147.
Where's it going?
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1149. Patrap
As the trends go, we will see a Arctic free of Summer ice, as early as 2015-16


As I've stated since 2007, all the Major Climate Modeling has underplayed the warming and its toll on the Planet.

What was modeled to be occurring in 50 years, is happening this decade.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Temperatures are going to be 30-32ºC for the next week here. That's 10-12ºC above the average. And it seems that high pressure is going to remain in place into late July, so we could see even higher temperatures in the coming weeks.

Things are looking very similar to the European heat wave of 2003. If this high pressure remains in place into August, we could see some very high temperatures.

Hopefully not and we get a nice area of low pressure building in at some point. The grass is starting to turn brown in my area.
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1147. zampaz
Quoting 1137. PedleyCA:


North Pole Today.....

Quoting 1144. RufusBaker:


who cares

I CARE!
Enjoy the seeing ice at the pole while you can.
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Quoting 1144. RufusBaker:


who cares
Rufus.I'm sure the few dozen people that are stationed there for studies are cognizant of the weather.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1145. Patrap
Lotsa Mojo out in the Miss Sound and N GOM.



Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 141757
Quoting 1137. PedleyCA:


North Pole Today.....


who cares
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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