Wildfires

Wildfires – California

Wildfires across California have now forced the evacuation of 5,000 people as the blaze threatens 1,500 homes across the state’s historic Gold Rush region.

A blaze burning in foothills west of Yosemite National Park destroyed dozens of structures and forced thousands to flee Gold Rush-era towns but fire crews have been able to stop it from reaching a threatened community on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

The fire was threatening about 1,500 homes and other buildings, after already destroying 29 structures.

Wildfires

Wildfires – California

A wildfire that has forced thousands of Californians to flee their homes exploded in size on Wednesday, threatening a picturesque gold rush town outside Yosemite National Park as dozens of blazes scorched the U.S. West.

More than 2,000 firefighters have contained just 7 percent of the Detwiler Fire, which is approaching the town of Mariposa and tiny communities in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The blaze has mushroomed to 48,000 acres (19,424 hectares), an increase of about 23,000 acres (9,307 hectares) compared with the day before. The fire has destroyed 29 structures and is threatening some 1,500 more structures. Flames have destroyed eight structures southwest of Yosemite National Park and the fire is threatening power lines to the park, but no one has been injured.

Wildfires – British Columbia, Canada

As forest fires raged Wednesday in western Canada, the provincial government extended a state of emergency and announced aid for tens of thousands of people evacuated because of the disaster.

Around 150 fires were burning in British Columbia on the Pacific coast, and more than half of them remained out of control, firefighting officials said.

The fires have forced at least 46,000 people from their homes.

Nearly 3,000 firefighters aided by 200 water-dumping helicopters and planes are fighting the fires, and reinforcements are on the way.

Wildfires

Wildfires – British Columbia, Canada

Fast-moving wildfires in British Columbia have forced nearly 40,000 people to leave their homes and residents are flooding into crowded evacuation centers amid a provincial state of emergency.

The entire city of Williams Lake, six hours northeast of Vancouver, was ordered evacuated on the weekend. The community has a population of over 10,000.

Wind over the weekend also caused a flare-up of a huge fire that started near the Ashcroft Indian Band reserve, which has charred just over 154-square miles (400-square kilometers) west of Kamloops.

Near Kelowna, about 60 homes remained on evacuation alert in the community of Lake Country after a human-caused fire was sparked Friday, destroying eight homes.

Wildfires – California, USA

A wildfire burning in central California tripled in size Monday, forcing more people from their homes as firefighters battle the day-old blaze burning in steep areas with heavy brush and tall grass. The fire, burning near Lake McClure, a reservoir about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Modesto, has scorched 17 square miles (44 square kilometers) since it broke out Sunday afternoon. Officials have ordered evacuations for an unknown number of homes. The fire has destroyed one home and damaged another.

In Northern California, a 900-acre wildfire in Mendocino County has also triggered an evacuation of homes. That fire is 25 percent contained.

To the south, crews are struggling to surround a 28-square-mile (72-square-kilometer) blaze burning for more than a week in the mountains of Santa Barbara County. It is just 49 percent contained after destroying 16 homes.

Wildfires

Wildfires – Croatia and Montenegro

Firefighters in Croatia and Montenegro have been struggling to contain wild fires that have erupted along the Adriatic coast in the two countries at the height of the tourism season.

In Croatia, the blazes have spread over several locations along the coast and on the islands, engulfing pine forests and low shrubbery in extremely dry and windy weather. Near the coastal town of Sibenik, a fire almost reached houses, but firefighting planes managed to stop the flames from spreading any further. Thick smoke has closed down the main road in the area. More fires have been reported further north, near the town of Pula, and on the islands of Pag and Vir.

In Montenegro, strong winds hampered efforts to battle several fires along the coast and near the capital, Podgorica.

Wildfires – California, USA

Two wildfires that began Sunday afternoon in Northern and Central California are prompting evacuations.

The Detwiller Fire, which began shortly before 4 p.m. just east of Lake McClure in Mariposa County, has spread to 2,500 acres and is forcing evacuations of residents on Hunters Valley road and parts of Bear Valley Road.

In Mendocino County the Grade Fire, which started shortly before 3 p.m., was burning along U.S. 101 about five miles northwest of Redwood Valley. By 8:45 p.m. the fire had burned about 1,000 acres and was 10% contained. Residents of the Baker Creek subdivision were under mandatory evacuation orders.

Wildfires

Wildfires – California, USA

Two major wildfires in California have forced nearly 8,000 people out of their homes.

About 4,000 people evacuated and another 7,400 were told to prepare to leave their homes as fire swept through grassy foothills in the Sierra Nevada, about 60 miles north of Sacramento, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Sunday. The fire has burned nearly 4 square miles, injured four firefighters and destroyed at least 10 structures.

The area burning was southeast of Oroville, where spillways in the nation’s tallest dam began crumbling from heavy rains this winter and led to temporary evacuation orders for 200,000 residents downstream.

Wildfires

Wildfires – California, USA

A pair of Santa Barbara County wildfires quickly spread Saturday, threatening hundreds of homes and forcing evacuations at a popular lakeside campground and a summer camp where flames temporarily trapped children and counselors, a fire official said.

The fire was one of three in the state that grew quickly as much of California baked in heat that broke records in parts of Southern California. A record that stood 131 years in Los Angeles was snapped when the temperature spiked at 98 degrees downtown. The previous record of 95 degrees was set in 1886, the National Weather Service said.

Wildfires

Wildfires – USA

Gusty winds and soaring temperatures have spread wildfires in numerous states across the Southwest, forcing hundreds of residents from their homes.

The National Interagency Fire Center said Thursday that six states including Arizona, California and New Mexico are dealing with “multiple large fires,” with more than 8,000 firefighters and support workers battling the blazes. The Interagency has raised the danger level, which helps mobilize additional resources.

In Central Arizona’s Yavapai County, the Goodwin Fire — named for the area near where the fire started — has engulfed more than 20,000 acres of mostly scrubland known locally as chaparral. The fire is also threatening several residential communities, spurring the evacuation of at least 1,500 people.

Officials say lightning sparked the Frye Fire earlier this month. It continues to burn around 40,000 acres of rugged terrain in Arizona’s Pinaleno Mountain Range. With more than 800 emergency workers battling it, the fire is at 45 percent containment.

In neighboring Utah, a massive blaze in Brian Head is burning around 60,000 acres, spurring evacuations.

And in California, multiple wildfires have also triggered dozens of evacuations and burned homes and cars.

Global Warming

Climate change is shrinking the Colorado River

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Lake Powell, photographed April 12, 2017. The white ‘bathtub ring’ at the cliff base indicates how much higher the lake reached at its peak, nearly 100 feet above the current level.

The nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border and Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border, were brim full in the year 2000. Four short years later, they had lost enough water to supply California its legally apportioned share of Colorado River water for more than five years. Now, 17 years later, they still have not recovered.

This ongoing, unprecedented event threatens water supplies to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and some of the most productive agricultural lands anywhere in the world. It is critical to understand what is causing it so water managers can make realistic water use and conservation plans.

While overuse has played a part, a significant portion of the reservoir decline is due to an ongoing drought, which started in 2000 and has led to substantial reductions in river flows. Most droughts are caused by a lack of precipitation. However, research shows that about one-third of the flow decline was likely due to higher temperatures in the Colorado River’s Upper Basin, which result from climate change.

This distinction matters because climate change is causing long-term warming that will continue for centuries.

In the study, researchers found the period from 2000 to 2014 is the worst 15-year drought since 1906, when official flow measurements began. During these years, annual flows in the Colorado River averaged 19 percent below the 20th-century average.

During a similar 15-year drought in the 1950s, annual flows declined by 18 percent. But during that drought, the region was drier: rainfall decreased by about 6 percent, compared to 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2014. Why, then, is the recent drought the most severe on record?

The answer is simple: higher temperatures. From 2000 to 2014, temperatures in the Upper Basin, where most of the runoff that feeds the Colorado River is produced, were 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th-century average. This is why we call this event a hot drought. High temperatures continued in 2015 and 2016, as did less-than-average flows. Runoff in 2017 is expected to be above average, but this will only modestly improve reservoir volumes.

High temperatures affect river levels in many ways. Coupled with earlier snow melt, they lead to a longer growing season, which means more days of water demand from plants. Higher temperatures also increase daily plant water use and evaporation from water bodies and soils. In sum, as it warms, the atmosphere draws more water, up to 4 percent more per degree Fahrenheit from all available sources, so less water flows into the river. These findings also apply to all semi-arid rivers in the American Southwest, especially the Rio Grande.

Wildlife

California tortoises died trying to reproduce during drought

Scientists examining the deaths of female desert tortoises in Southern California said it appears the animals died while exhausting their water and energy to lay eggs during California’s historic drought.

Researchers want to know why female tortoises are dying in greater numbers than males in the Joshua Tree National Park.

U.S. Geological Survey biologist Jeffrey Lovich said he believes the tortoises died during a desperate attempt to fight extinction. He called it an “evolutionary gamble” — choosing to try and reproduce despite harsh conditions.

“Females will go out of their way to produce a clutch of four or so eggs,” Lovich told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They’ll do it during a drought, when they can’t find the water they need, to have a chance to win at the game of life.”

Over the past three decades, Joshua Tree’s tortoise population has plummeted from about 30,000 to an all-time low of roughly 3,000.

Desert tortoises are a threatened species that typically have 50-year lifespans in the wild, with some living 80 years.

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Chimp Extinction

Tanzanian experts fear that chimpanzees could join elephants and rhinos as the most threatened wildlife species in the country due to their dwindling populations.

“A hundred years ago, there were probably 2 million, but now only 150,000 to 200,000,” said Anthony Collins, a baboon researcher at Gombe Stream National Park.

He told Tanzania’s The Citizen daily that destruction of habitat, illegal hunting and capture for medical research are the greatest threats to the chimps’ survival.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean: Tropical Cyclone “Carlos” (04S) Carlos continues to weaken and is expected to dissipate as it moves southeast at 19 mph into the southern Indian Ocean.

Newsbytes:

Northern California, USA – Heavy floods continue to damage parts of Northern California Saturday. Despite seeing a break in the rain, residents continued to feel the effects of the latest storm. Evacuations have been issued in the low-lying areas of Wilton and Point Pleasant.

Western Australia – With much of the continent enduring intense heat, several small communities in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region are dealing with floodwaters. Water levels within the Avon River catchment are expected rise over the weekend with up to 70mm of rain recorded in the 24 hours to Friday night, the Bureau of Meteorology says. Flooding hit the community of Toodyay, along Stirling Terrace, and Mortlock River East at O’Driscolls Farm on Saturday morning. Moderate flooding was also expected along the river in Beverley, with water under the town’s bridge at 1.75m and rising. Residents in Northam were also told to expect minor flooding with some already deciding to head to higher ground.

Indonesia – At least 13 people have been killed and thousands more made homeless after devastating floods swept across Indonesia. The idyllic tourist hotspot of Bali was partially submerged after five days of torrential rain triggered deadly landslides. Rivers on Sumbawa Island burst their banks following rainfall of 12 to 28 inches, flooding seven sub-districts. Some 8,000 were stranded in their villages in two sub-districts which are now only accessible by boat. The agency warned more heavy rains could be on the way, bringing with it further flooding and landslides adding to the misery of remaining residents, many of whom live in stilt houses. Millions of people live in mountainous areas or on flood plains, with heavy rainfall regularly causing landslides and floods on the archipelago.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

USA – A spate of violent, fast-moving tornadoes continued to wreak havoc across the Deep South on Sunday, killing at least 14 people in south Georgia and raising the weekend’s severe-weather death toll to 18. Some of the most extensive damage came Sunday afternoon, when a large twister with winds of 60 mph tore across Albany, Ga., killing at least three people and mangling homes across suburban neighbourhoods. An elementary school, an airport and the sprawling Marine Corps Logistics Base were hit, Rowe said. So much debris blocked roads that fire crews had to navigate communities on foot. Earlier Sunday, just before 3 a.m., a single long-track tornado, or a couple of smaller tornadoes, struck the Georgia-Florida line, hurtling northeast for about 80 miles.

Australia – The weather bureau has issued an alert for severe thunderstorms with damaging winds of up to 125km/h for several regions — while Adelaide is also expecting a possible storm. Heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding and wind gusts of 90-125km/h in the warning area — Lower Eyre Peninsula, Eastern Eyre Peninsula North West Pastoral, North East Pastoral and parts of the West Coast and Yorke Peninsula — over the next several hours, the Bureau of Meteorology says. Locations which may be affected include Cummins, Ernabella, Coober Pedy, Roxby Down and Marree. About 50mm of rain has already been recorded in Elliston and 49mm of rain at Cummins since 9am this morning.

California, USA – Fast-moving floodwaters swept through mountain communities south of the San Francisco Bay Area as thunderstorms and powerful winds wallop California. Rock slides, debris flows and flooding have closed roads and snarled traffic up and down the state as the third storm in four days dumped heavy rain and snow in the mountains. Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain locations could see up to 6 inches of rain. California residents have evacuated neighbourhoods below hillsides scarred by wildfires as the third — and largest — in the latest series of storms brings powerful rain and warnings about flash flooding and possible mudslides.

Tahiti – Heavy flooding in French Polynesia has forced many residents to evacuate, cut off power to thousands of homes, and closed Tahiti’s international airport. The French Polynesia High Commission said three people were injured, one seriously, while more than 100 homes were destroyed. Major roads were damaged by landslides. The floods were most severe on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea.

Singapore – A heavy downpour caused flash floods and traffic snarls in Singapore during the morning peak period on Monday.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

California, USA – A powerhouse storm slammed into southern California on Friday, bringing flash floods and mudslides and leading to traffic chaos across much of the region. A flood on the southern Santa Barbara County coast swept several cabins and vehicles down El Capitan Canyon, the Associated Press said. Photos on social media showed cars and buildings buried in mud. The storm is forecast to bring heavy snow across portions of the Sierra later on Friday and into Saturday. It will also dump snow and rain across much of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico over the weekend. The torrential downpours overwhelmed a levee in a farming area near Hollister Friday, sending flood waters rushing through a breach and swamping farms and homes in the region.

Thailand – Persistent rain throughout Friday caused flooding to several districts of the southern provinces of Songkhla, Narathiwat Pattani, Trang and Yala early Saturday. The ground floors of several buildings, including the parking lot of a Tesco Lotus store in the municipality, were inundated. It was the third outbreak of flooding in Songkhla municipality since the start of the year. In Saba Yoi district, Ban Lae Baeng village was flooded for the fourth time this year.

Philippines – At least four areas in Mindanao, including the cities of Valencia and Cagayan de Oro, have been placed under a state of calamity as widespread flooding brought about by heavy rains this week displaced thousands of residents. No storm passed through the island but a low pressure area and the tail end of a cold front dumped heavy rains that submerged communities, business centres and farmlands on the island.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

California, USA – California has been hit by seven days of major rain storms, causing flooding all over the state and prompting evacuations. More heavy rain is forecasted for the Golden State in the coming days. After six years of drought, parts of California have received record amounts of rain, causing rivers to flood, roads to close, trees to fall, power to go out and businesses to shut down. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued several warnings across the state, and authorities have advised thousands of Californians to evacuate their homes after rivers overflowed. Just outside of the state capital, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department advised 2,000 residents of Wilton to leave their homes. In Sonoma County, 3,000 residents were placed under an evacuation advisory as the Russian River flooded by more than 35 feet on Monday. In Guerneville, the river gushed into residential areas, where residents used canoes to help their neighbours evacuate their homes, which were submerged under several feet of water. Along with the rain, northern California was hit with record snowfall at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in central California, which reported 15 new feet of snow in the past six days.

Wildfires

California Forests Failing to Regrow After Intense Wildfires

There are warning signs that some forests in the western U.S. may have a hard time recovering from the large and intense wildfires that have become more common as the climate warms.

After studying 14 burned areas across 10 national forests in California, scientists from UC Davis and the U.S. Forest Service said recent fires have killed so many mature, seed-producing trees across such large areas that the forests can’t re-seed themselves. And because of increasingly warm temperatures, burned areas are quickly overgrown by shrubs, which can prevent trees from taking root.

Historically, severe fires were uncommon in the forests covered by the study, largely made up of yellow pines and mixed conifers, but extended drought and heatwaves have exacerbated fire conditions across the West. The changing climate is also seen as a factor in recent wildfires in the Southeast, which is also mired in drought.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.

Newsbytes:

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Queensland, Australia – Torrential overnight rain has caused extensive flash flooding across Mount Isa and surrounding areas in the state’s north-west. Many local roads had gone under as well as all of the city’s small bridges. The highest fall was recorded at the Mt Isa mine, where 97.6 millimetres fell in the 24 hours to 9:00am.

California, USA – Flash flood warnings and advisories were issued for parts of the North Bay Thursday as a potent storm front slammed into the San Francisco Bay Area, bringing with it heavy rains and strong winds. The heavy precipitation from the storm system prompted numerous warnings over the course of the day.