Thursday, 10 August 2017

Extreme conditions in the Pacific Northwest

No one at Radio NZ seems to have noticed the fires in B.C. Until NZ pilots went to help. They don’t mention climate change


Canada wildfires 'apocalyptic' - Kiwi pilot


9 August, 2017

A New Zealand helicopter pilot fighting enormous wildfires in Canada says everyone works in an ''apocalyptic twilight'' amid the worst conditions he has experienced in 25 years.

Canada wildfiresCanada has been hit by massive wildfires. Photo: Supplied / Stephen Boyce

More than 200 wildfires are burning across the country, with the majority of those ablaze in British Columbia, which has had one of its worst wildfire seasons in 60 years.

A team of 80 firefighters from New Zealand this week joined the close to 3800 personnel already working to contain the fires.

Pilot Stephen Boyce has already spent 10 days helping douse an area of over 90,000 hectares of land, which is the equivalent of the entire Auckland district, and only one of four sections of the Elephant Hill Fire.

He took leave from his role at Oceania Aviation Group in Auckland to travel to Canada to help the helicopter crews, as the company often deals with businesses in Canada.

Soon after he arrived, it become clear the fires were unlike anything he has ever faced before.

"The visibility and flying conditions are the worst I have experienced on fires in 25 years.

"If we haven't got really strong winds and high temperatures, we've got almost no wind and high temperatures and thick, dense smoke, which can be virtually impossible to fly in."

He said the smoke cover extended up to 3000 feet above ground and was so thick it blocked out the sun.

"The sun is so obscured that it is the colour of a blood orange all day. You can openly stare at the sun in the middle of the day ... everyone's working in this apocalyptic twilight."

The "apocalyptic twilight" conditions firefighters are working in in British Colombia.The "apocalyptic twilight" conditions firefighters are working in in British Colombia. Photo: Supplied / Stephen Boyce

In the past few days the mercury soared significantly, reaching up to 37°C in the cockpit.

The heat, and working over 12 hours every day, was exhausting, but worth it.
"It's been physically draining for the last few days ... there's a lot of pollution in the air, so as you're flying your eyes are stinging."

He said the priority was stopping the fire spreading and protecting homes, farms, livestock and infrastructure, like powerlines and gas lines, from the blaze.

Any hope of putting the fire out before temperatures drop was already lost.

"In my experience and that of the pilots here, we've never seen anything like this.
''This fire will be going until the first snow, so once the weather conditions physically change into fall or winter, that's when the fire will technically be over.

''There's just so much of it, what we're doing right now is just trying to contain it."



Heat wave scorches the Pacific Northwest


7 August, 2017

A remarkable heat wave brought rare extreme heat to the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Daily records fell by the wayside in Washington and Oregon as the searing summer sun caused temperatures to easily rise past 100°F in many inland locations in early August.


Daytime high temperatures across the Pacific Northwest United States on August 3, 2017. NOAA Climate.gov image using data from NOAA’s Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA).

The map above shows the daytime high temperature across the Pacific Northwest on August 3, 2017, using data from NOAA’s Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA). August 3 represented the peak of the hot streak as daily temperature records fell like bowling pins. There was variation in the heat due to the Pacific Northwest’s varied terrain, but the temperatures were still was remarkable from the coastal plain to inland areas.

The heat was caused by a high pressure system in the atmosphere, which helped keep skies free from clouds and allowed the sun’s energy to heat the surface. In Portland, Oregon, temperatures reach 105°F at the airport and 103°F downtown, breaking records set in 1952. Salem, Oregon, reached 103°F on date. Eugene, Oregon, topped out at 102°F. These also set daily temperature records. Medford, Oregon, soared to 112°F, only a few degrees below its all-time record. Farther north and closer to the water, Seattle reached 91°F and 94°F setting, breaking, and re-setting the heat record on August 2 and 3.

As temperatures soared, smoke from wildfires to the north in British Columbia wafted south and casted a hazy hue across the region. The smoke reduced air quality, but had the positive side-effect of lessening the heat by reflecting some of the sun’s energy.

While temperatures in the low 100s may seem commonplace for somewhere like Arizona, the Pacific Northwest isn’t prepared for the heat. It is not uncommon to find residences without air conditioners. During extremely hot days and still warm nights, this can cause health concerns.

Human-caused climate change will not make things better. Summer temperatures across the Pacific Northwest have already risen at a pace of 0.2°F per decade since 1895 according to NOAA’s Climate at a Glance tool. And according to the National Climate Assessment, depending on how large our greenhouse gas emissions will be during the next century, temperatures are projected to increase by 3-10°F by 2100 (compared to 1970 to 1999) and be largest in the summer. Summer heat can be deadly. For more tips on how to stay safe in the heat, head over the National Weather Service’s page on heat safety or explore the Heat Health section of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.

July Was Record Hot for 


Parts of Alaska and the 


West


By Andrea Thompson
9 August, 2017
The northernmost city in the United States just had its hottest July on record, as other spots in Alaska had their hottest month overall. Heat records also fell in a few western cities, as well as the fearsomely hot Death Valley, where July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
Those hotspots stood out in what was the 10th hottest July on record for the Lower 48 states, topping off the second hottest year-to-date for the country by a hair, according to data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Three states are having their hottest year on record more than halfway through the year, while several more are running in second or third place.

Monthly records for temperature and precipitation set in July in Alaska.Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA

While weather patterns have a big impact on monthly temperatures — as the cooler weather of early August shows — the overall warming of the planet is tipping the odds in favor of record heat. In fact, July had four times as many daily record highs as record lows, according to meteorologist Guy Walton, who keeps track of such streaks using NOAA’s data.

The record heat in Alaska fell along the North Slope, which lies above the Arctic Circle, and the central interior of the state.
For the North Slope, “a fair chunk” of the heat could be attributed “to the very early loss of sea ice” that normally clings to the coast until August and keeps temperatures lower, Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service’s Alaska region, said. “There’s basically now no sea ice left within 200 miles of Alaska.”

That early loss of sea ice was followed by storms that pulled up warmer air from the South, pushing the average July temperature in Utqiaġvik (Barrow) to 46°F. While that may not sound like summer weather to the rest of the country, it is 5°F above the long-term average for a city perched at the same latitude as the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.
In the interior of the state, there weren’t any significant heat waves during the month, but there also weren’t any cool days because of a lack of of cloudy, rainy weather, Thoman said. Instead, the month saw “this grinding, day-after-day” warmth.
Bettles, Tanana and McGrath all had not only their warmest July, but also their warmest month on record. The first two towns had average temperatures about 5°F above normal, while McGrath’s was 3.7°F above normal. Fairbanks had its fourth warmest July on record. The state overall had its third warmest July.
The North Slope will continue to be warm for the next few months as the sea ice will be gone until it begins to refreeze in the fall, Thoman said.

July Was Record Hot for Parts of Alaska and the West

9 August, 2017
The northernmost city in the United States just had its hottest July on record, as other spots in Alaska had their hottest month overall. Heat records also fell in a few western cities, as well as the fearsomely hot Death Valley, where July was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth.
Those hotspots stood out in what was the 10th hottest July on record for the Lower 48 states, topping off the second hottest year-to-date for the country by a hair, according to data released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Three states are having their hottest year on record more than halfway through the year, while several more are running in second or third place.
Monthly records for temperature and precipitation set in July in Alaska.Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA
While weather patterns have a big impact on monthly temperatures — as the cooler weather of early August shows — the overall warming of the planet is tipping the odds in favor of record heat. In fact, July had four times as many daily record highs as record lows, according to meteorologist Guy Walton, who keeps track of such streaks using NOAA’s data.
The record heat in Alaska fell along the North Slope, which lies above the Arctic Circle, and the central interior of the state.
For the North Slope, “a fair chunk” of the heat could be attributed “to the very early loss of sea ice” that normally clings to the coast until August and keeps temperatures lower, Rick Thoman, climate science and services manager for the National Weather Service’s Alaska region, said. “There’s basically now no sea ice left within 200 miles of Alaska.”
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That early loss of sea ice was followed by storms that pulled up warmer air from the South, pushing the average July temperature in Utqiaġvik (Barrow) to 46°F. While that may not sound like summer weather to the rest of the country, it is 5°F above the long-term average for a city perched at the same latitude as the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.
In the interior of the state, there weren’t any significant heat waves during the month, but there also weren’t any cool days because of a lack of of cloudy, rainy weather, Thoman said. Instead, the month saw “this grinding, day-after-day” warmth.
Bettles, Tanana and McGrath all had not only their warmest July, but also their warmest month on record. The first two towns had average temperatures about 5°F above normal, while McGrath’s was 3.7°F above normal. Fairbanks had its fourth warmest July on record. The state overall had its third warmest July.
The North Slope will continue to be warm for the next few months as the sea ice will be gone until it begins to refreeze in the fall, Thoman said.


In the Lower 48, Bakersfield, Calif., Reno and Salt Lake City also had their hottest July on record thanks to high-pressure ridges that helped temperatures soar and break several daily heat records across the region. The hot, dry weather also helped fuel wildfires that erupted and spread rapidly across the region.
Miami was also record hot for not just July but for any month, fueled both by the number of days above 90°F (every day of the month but the last was that hot or hotter) and the fact that temperatures stayed extremely warm overnight.
Death Valley, already known for its ferocious heat, took it to another level in July, with an average for the month of 107.4°F, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reported. Overnight lows were again a major factor, as they didn’t fall below 89°F on any night during the month there.
Three nights actually had a low temperature between 102°F and 103°F. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks, found this was the hottest month recorded at any station in Global Historical Climatology Network database kept by NOAA.
The heat out West pushed the temperature for the month for the contiguous U.S. to 2.1°F above the 20th century average of 73.6°F. That temperature kept 2017 just barely in second place for the year to date, with a temperature 3.2°F above the average of 51.3°F for that period.
How year-to-date temperatures in states across the contiguous U.S. ranked through July 2017.Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA
The cool start to August east of the Rockies, and the suggestion that that pattern will continue for much of the month, could knock 2017 down to third place, Jake Crouch, a climatologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information, said.
At the state level, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida are all having their warmest year to date. In April, aswath of 14 states from the mid-Atlantic to Texas was on record pace, but cooler temperatures in May knocked several out of the running, though they are still having their second or third warmest year on record so far.
While weather patterns played a clear role in boosting temperatures in many parts of the country, the overall rise in average temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions has made record heat more and more likely and record cold increasingly rare.
Every month since December 2014 has had more record highs than lows, according to Walton.
Not much sea ice left near Alaska & it's only early August: big diff from this time last year.


In the Lower 48, Bakersfield, Calif., Reno and Salt Lake City also had their hottest July on record thanks to high-pressure ridges that helped temperatures soar and break several daily heat records across the region. The hot, dry weather also helped fuel wildfires that erupted and spread rapidly across the region.
Miami was also record hot for not just July but for any month, fueled both by the number of days above 90°F (every day of the month but the last was that hot or hotter) and the fact that temperatures stayed extremely warm overnight.

Death Valley, already known for its ferocious heat, took it to another level in July, with an average for the month of 107.4°F, the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reported. Overnight lows were again a major factor, as they didn’t fall below 89°F on any night during the month there.

Three nights actually had a low temperature between 102°F and 103°F. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist at the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks, found this was the hottest month recorded at any station in Global Historical Climatology Network database kept by NOAA.

The heat out West pushed the temperature for the month for the contiguous U.S. to 2.1°F above the 20th century average of 73.6°F. That temperature kept 2017 just barely in second place for the year to date, with a temperature 3.2°F above the average of 51.3°F for that period.
How year-to-date temperatures in states across the contiguous U.S. ranked through July 2017.Click image to enlarge. Credit: NOAA

The cool start to August east of the Rockies, and the suggestion that that pattern will continue for much of the month, could knock 2017 down to third place, Jake Crouch, a climatologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information, said.
At the state level, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida are all having their warmest year to date. In April, aswath of 14 states from the mid-Atlantic to Texas was on record pace, but cooler temperatures in May knocked several out of the running, though they are still having their second or third warmest year on record so far.

While weather patterns played a clear role in boosting temperatures in many parts of the country, the overall rise in average temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions has made record heat more and more likely and record cold increasingly rare.
Every month since December 2014 has had more record highs than lows, according to Walton.




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