wildfire

All posts tagged wildfire


I’m used to the smoke obscuring the sky and turning the sun into a ruby. I’m used to it being so thick that I can’t see the sides of my valley. But these last couple of days the smoke has been so thick that it’s hazy at the bottom of my yard. It hovers over the river like a morning mist.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had a nice cool spell and a little rain. It calmed the fires, which are all around us, gave some relief to the gasping vegetation and washed the smoke out of the air. It was a nice respite, but it didn’t last. The drought is still on, the temperature has gone back up and the smoke has again filled the air.

I have fond memories of opening the windows overnight to flush the house with a cool breeze. Now we’re reluctant to let in the smoke-laden air.

I’m looking forward to autumn.

rjb

EDIT: The drought level has been raised to 4 in my area. That’s on a scale of 5, where 5 is the worst. This means strict water restrictions, but without severe, punitive regulatory action.

rjb

Enchanted Light | New Mexico by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND


The drought continues this year. We had a snowpack that was pretty close to average for the valley, but then we had one of the driest springs on record. Right at the end of June, which is supposed to be the month when we get most of our spring rainfall, we got a heat wave. We saw temperatures that have never been recorded here before. For a while each day was breaking the record set the day before. What was already dry became crisp.

Our lawn knew what was happening. Normally we can count on the vigorous growth tailing off at the end of June, the weekly mowing along with it. This year the grass never really got going. So far I’ve mowed it twice, and the second time it didn’t really need it. It appears to have gone dormant. The predominant color in most yards is brown rather than green. I’m not bothering to try to keep our lawn green, I’m just trying to keep it alive. Even that is difficult in the face of watering restrictions brought on by the drought.

The forecast calls for continued hot, dry weather. There is no respite in sight, not even the occasional drenching thunderstorm we usually get in the summer. Worst of all, we’re being told to expect more of the same in the future.

On the plus side, there has been no comment from Droughtman. In the past he has said we’re not having a drought because we have a big lake full of water. He’s being quiet this year.


As for the wildfires, we were warned that conditions were right for a bad season. They were right. Fires are starting every day and spreading quickly. There are boiling clouds of smoke and steam rising up in flammagenitus, creating pyrocumulonimbus that are as big as any thunder clouds I’ve ever seen.

Eric Neitzel – CC-BY-SA

The people fighting those fires are having to concentrate on protecting human structures, because stopping them is out of the question. Thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes and the province has declared a state of emergency.

My back yard. That’s smoke, not cloud.


People are saying we should get used to it and try to adapt to a future of drought and wildfires. I’d rather not have to.

rjb

“Enchanted Light | New Mexico” by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


Since last time, when the jet stream looped far up to the north of us and the drought level was set at 2, or dry, we have had a series of systems run through here bringing clouds and rain. The jet stream has waved back and forth over our area, channeling that series of storms, and now it has dropped down south of us. The upshot of all that is that we’ve had quite a bit of rain. We might end up recording more than the historical average for September by the time we’re done, although the temperature continues to trend above average. I think it’s safe to extrapolate the drought level, which was still at 2 a couple of weeks ago, to be 1, normal, now.

It’s a relief. Our lawn appreciates it, as do our trees and other plantings. Our forests surely appreciate it, as the wildfire danger rating falls. The fire east of town, as reported in the last drought report, is contained, though still smouldering. I think we can confidently say that the threat of a serious drought has been postponed. The experts still warn, though, that the land is still dry. This recent spate of rain hasn’t done much to change that. Still, the moisture feels good.

rjb

“Enchanted Light | New Mexico” by Jim Crotty is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

 
That’s typical. No sooner had I reported on the jet stream being stalled, resulting in cooler, damper weather, than it whipped up north of us putting us in a hotter, drier air mass. As a result the wildfire hazard has spread its extreme rating through more areas in the last week, and a few days ago a fire started just to the east of where I live. In those few days it has grown to more than 1500 hectares. The crews worked hard trying to keep it out of the big timber where it could really take off, but the dry heat and some wind, along with the difficult terrain, have conspired to outrun them.

You can tell where the hills are by the rising sun.

The sound of helicopters and water bombers has been nearly continuous. It’s hard to see the fire in the daytime from here because of the smoke, but at night we can see flames across the hills on the east side of the valley.

With the drying trend I’m surprised that the drought level has stayed at 2 – dry. I was sure I would be reporting a rise to 3 – very dry. I choose to take it as good news. Droughtman has been quiet on the subject. I also take that as good news.

rjb