Monday, 12 June 2017

Dying Earth - climate change and extreme weather report - 06/11/2017

Climate & Extreme Weather News #32 (June 6th to June 8th 2017)

The whole town is burning’: Deaths, mass evacuations as fire sweeps Western Cape

8 June, 2017

Eight people are dead and 10,000 have fled their homes as an enormous fire sweeps through the town of Knysna, South Africa.

Numerous homes have been gutted by the blaze that started on Tuesday and grew rapidly when a storm passed over the Western Cape town.

now affect a huge band along the southern coast all the way to . Thoughts to those fighting this monster fire.

Western Cape local government spokesman James-Brent Styan confirmed in a statement that up to 10,000 evacuations had taken place in the town of 77,000 residents.

The fire in Knysna is the largest and most destructive fire in a built-up area in the Western Cape in recent memory with thousands displaced. It comes on the back of the worst storm seen in the Western Cape in at least 30 years‚” Styan said.

That sentiment was echoed by the town’s mayor‚ Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who told Herald Live: “These are the worst fires I have seen in the 45 years I’ve lived in Knysna.”

Eight people were killed by the blaze, according to Reuters. Knysna fire chief Clinton Manual said there was little hope of stopping the fire and officials would continue evacuating all those in its path.

The fire began on the one side but is now spreading to the other side of the town and the hospital is on fire. Basically the whole town is burning‚” journalist Ivo Vegter said to Times Live.

City of Cape Town Disaster Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said more than 800 families were homeless on Wednesday due to the storm.

Knysna looks like a warzone this morning. Some rain has started to fall, though.

Reuters reports that thousands of people in shanty towns, who endured the region's worst drought in a century, are hardest hit by the blaze, as floods and heavy rain washed away homes built of planks and zinc sheets.

Deadly heatwaves in India worse still ahead

"Misery Index" projection for June 12, 2017, showing combined effects of heat and humidity.

To residents of the Northeast United States, this has been the year without spring. The high temperature in Boston on June 7, for example, was a record-tying 52 degrees, as rain and fog swept in off the stubbornly chilly Atlantic waters.

Now, though, Bostonians, along with tens of millions of Americans all the way west to the High Plains, are about to experience the first truly brutal heat wave of the season.

By June 11, the high temperature in Boston is likely to be about 40 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it was just a few days before. The same can be said for New York City, where people adorned with winter hats were spotted on the mist-shrouded streets on June 7.  

Congo-Angola region on fire

From drought to heavy storm: At least 8 killed as heavy winds and rain lash Cape Town

Middle East and Southwest Asia heat wave

During the last week of May, an impressive dome of overheated air with an isotherm of 35°C (95°F) at 850 hpa (approximately 5,000 feet) extended across the Strait of Hormuz near southern Iran and southwestern Pakistan. In places where this air was being forced downward, the extreme heat allowed for strong compressional warming that produced exceptional surface temperatures. On May 28, after a minimum temperature of 34.5°C (94°F), the high temperature in the Western Pakistani town of Turbat reached 53.5°C (128.3°F) in mid-afternoon. This tied the all-time highest temperature ever recorded in Pakistan, and the world record of highest temperature for May--both set in Moen Jo Daro on May 26, 2010 (not May 27 as wrongly reported in some media.)

There is a controversy about the correct maximum temperature in Turbat, though. It was reported by the Pakistan Meteorological Department as 53.5°C (the precision of the thermometer is 0.5°C, like in most Pakistani stations), but the temperature was later rounded to 54.0°C (129.2°F.) If that is correct, it would tie the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in the planet, the 54.0°C reading set on July 21, 2016 in Mitribah, Kuwait. Regardless, the 53.5°C reading at Turbat on May 28, 2017, ranks as one of Earth’s top five hottest reliably-measured temperatures on record; see Wunderground weather historian Chris Burt’s July 22, 2016 post,Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth, for more information. The World Meteorological Organization, which is currently checking the reliability of the Mitribah thermometer, will also carry out an investigation on the reliability of the Turbat reading--and to find out whether this rounding from 53.5°C to 54.0°C makes sense.

In nearby eastern Iran, the temperatures peaked at 52.8°C (127°F) at the military base of Konarak, and 52.6°C (126.7°F ) in the village of Renk, destroying the record of the highest temperature ever recorded in May in Iran (50.5°C in Bostan in May 1999), and approaching the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Iran, 53°C.

In the following days, the intense heat moved down to Oman, where nearly half of the stations set their all-time highest temperatures. The most important of these records were the 50.8°C (123.4°Frecorded on May 30 at Qurayyat and on May 31 at Joba. These readings tie the national record of highest temperature ever recorded in Oman (previously set at Buraimi in July 1990 and at Sohar Majis in May 2009.)

In Saudi Arabia, after a wind shift, an exceptional value of 48°C (118.4°Fwas recorded in the port of Wejh (Al Wahj), tying the highest temperature ever recorded in the Northwestern coast of Saudi Arabia (facing the Red Sea); the same value was recorded in June 1978.

In the United Arab Emirates, the difference of temperature between the atmosphere and the sea, together with the intense sea breeze, caused impressive differences in weather. Coastal areas were affected by thick fog, and even mist, but temperatures were very high on the mountain peaks. At one point, the temperature of the weather station on the Burj Al Khalifa Building in Dubai (625 meters above sea level) was 15°C (27°F) higher than that of coastal Dubai.

Pakistan heat record
Figure 1. Screen shot of the Pakistan Meteorological Department's web page on May 28, 2017, showing that the all-time Pakistan heat record of 53.5°C (128.3°F) had been tied that day.

European heat wave

A dome of high pressure from Morocco extended over Western Europe beginning on May 24, then moved north and then east. As a result, monthly records of highest temperatures were widespread in Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Germany and Austria. Very high temperatures were also set in the Alps, with an amazing 5.8°C (42.4°F) on May 27 on the top of Italy’s Col Major(elevation 4750 meters or 15,584 feet), just at the side of Mount Blanc. In particular, two national records for the month of May were broken: in Norway with 32.2°C (90°F) at Tinnsjø on May 27, and in Austria with 35.0°C (95°F) at Horn on May 31.

Vietnamese heat wave

An intense heat wave caused by downslope winds from the Laotian mountains towards the Vietnamese coast affected the area around Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi in early June, particularly between June 2 - 4. The central observatory of Lang on June 4 recorded 41.5°C (106.7°F), destroying its previous all-time record of 40.4°C, set in 1971. On June 4, the district of Ha Dong (which hosts an international weather station representative of Hanoi) recorded 42.5°C (108.5°F), by far the highest temperature ever recorded in the Hanoi area. (During the colonial times, unusually high values were recorded with stations affected by overexposure conditions, including the infamous record of 42.8°C in May 1926, which is believed to be unreliable--just like similar values recorded in Indochina in those years.) In the central area of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake, the humidity is usually higher than its surroundings, and the combination of temperatures as high as 41°C (105.8°F) with humidity values near 50% made the heat index an unbearable 55°C (131°F).

Jeff Masters contributed to this post.

NASA on Greenland's Thinning Ice (June 2017)

Numerous wildfires in Southwest Alaska

Alaska wildfires

Firefighters are leap frogging from one fire to another to protect villages, cabins and other structures in Southwest Alaska after more than a dozen new wildfires were started by lightning strikes in the past three days.

The Alaska Division of Forestry reports that as of Wednesday morning there are 15 active fires burning in the area, which covers an 88-million acre swath of Southwest Alaska from McGrath to Dillingham. Six of the 15 fires are staffed with firefighters while the remainder are being monitored.

The meltdown, following an extra warm Arctic winter, will have an impact on coastal communities and permafrost.

Polar bear on sea ice
The Arctic's record-warm winter has allowed thousands of square miles of sea ice off Alaska to melt more than a month early, leaving the shoreline vulnerable to waves and exposing dark ocean water to absorb more heat from the sun.

The loss of ice in the Chukchi Sea will boost the regional temperature and could increase precipitation over nearby land, said Alaska-based climate scientist Rick Thoman.

As of May 24, the ice cover on the Chukchi Sea had melted away from the shore along a 300 mile stretch, from Point Hope all the way to Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States. Satellite and radar data show the ice-free area totaled about 54,000 square miles.

Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed

Here's why the Endangered Species Act can't save these trees.

The whitebark pine faces intertwined threats that have killed the trees across much of their historic range. In 1910, Gifford Pinchot imported white pine blister rust, a fast-moving European fungal disease that kills whitebarks, to the West in a tree shipment.

Earthquake hits near North Pole

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale hit the Greenland Sea, in between Greenland and Svalbard, on June 9, 2017 at 20:49:52 UTC at 79.931°N, 0.605°E and at 18.4 km depth.

Saturday's Jet Stream Pattern
Snow is in the forecast for the start of June's second full week across the higher elevations of the mountain West, as an unseasonably cold air mass infiltrates the northwestern United States.

The cold air has moved in with a strong southward dip in the jet stream, or upper-level trough, that is sweeping into the Northwest this weekend as a result of a weather pattern flip.

This system will then win g across the northern Rockies through Tuesday, bringing periods of rain and a few thunderstorms to much of the region and snow to some of the higher elevations. Gusty winds are also expected across much of the West at times, into early week.

Temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees colder than average to begin this week, which means it may be cold enough for slushy accumulations of snow in portions of the Sierra Nevada and northern Rockies, especially at night. Many valley locations won't see highs climb out of the 50s Sunday and Monday.

Rising seas may wash away this US town

Jason Box is interviewed

Ice sheets are turning black from coal-fired industrial pollution and fires. This has terrible consequences for us all.

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