California is Burning. @266 Square Miles of Active Wildefires This Morning

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I just ran the latest numbers on the total acreage of active wildfires in California as reported this morning on http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/5/0/.

Here's what I came up with:

There are a total of 170,469 acres of active wildfires burning this morning in California. That converts to 266 square miles.

To put it in perspective, visualize a band of fire, one third of a mile wide, burning along Interstate 5 from Mexican border, 800 miles north through California to the Oregon state line. That 800 mile long band of fire, with a width 5.86 football fields placed end to end would represent the total acreage of active wildfires in California this morning.

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Sacramento Dave
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Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am

Comments

Forest fires, deforestation, draught and desertification all work together. It can be both a complex and a self reinforcing process. The result can be drastic change. The ever expanding Sahara is one example.

The now brewing "Bruce Lee" El Nino can be a hiccup in the process, or it can be a game changer. So many processes are at work now, some of then utterly new self reinforcing feedback loops to a 10,000 year period of stability, that accurate prediction is probably out of the question.

If this El Nino equals or exceeds the two previous monster El Ninos (1986-1987, and 1997-1998), the fires, the coinciding deforestation, the bared hillsides and so forth, will experience a deluge and a consequent reorganizing of many hillsides newly bereft of any forest and root structure that would otherwise have helped absorb the water and keep much of the soil intact. Some of those hillsides will contain multi million dollar homes, infrastructure and all sorts of expensive human encroachments into nature. Much of those human-built features will be reorganized as well. That's pretty much a given.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

I'm Still playing around with the numbers and spreadsheets. If my figures are right, and there are 33 million acres of forest in California, ( ucanr.edu/sites/forestry/California_forests ) then the currently active wildfires are equivalent to approximately one in every 200 acres of forested land in the state. Of course, some of the wildfires are burning grasslands and areas that are not forested, but that's still quite a large number when consider the other wildfires in recent years that have consumed so much of the woodlands here that remained after clear cutting the forests have made a checkerboard of all the major forests, clearly visible on Google Earth.

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Sacramento Dave
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Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am

Yeah and the smoke is blowing east. Choke, choke.

Legend
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Nov. 27, 2012 6:46 am

Having worked as an environmental storm water consultant in the construction industry during the residential building boom of the first decade of this century, I am well aware of the flood dangers that exist in the California Central Valley. Sprawling residential developments containing Thousands of family homes were built during those years in low lying valley floor areas that had flooded during the El Ninos of the previous twenty years.

I worked on a number of these, even cautioning friends who bought homes there to keep life jackets and rafts handy when the rains are forecast. Some of the residential developments that were built on previously under water grounds include those in Linda, Plumas Lakes, (Marysville, CA area) several west of interstate 5 in Stockton, CA , and the lowest of them all, the huge development west of Interstate 5 in Lathrop, CA. Even in dry years, just like New Orleans, Lathrop has to continually pump water over the levees to keep the streets in front of thousands of newly built homes from flooding. I have friends in the construction industry that were working on levees in both Plumas Lakes and Linda, when the levees broke. One team had to be evacuated by helicopter.

And of course, there is the Natomas Basin comprising most of the newly built areas in north Sacramento. It hasn't flooded for a while due to being surrounded by levees, and with river wide swaths of floodwater overflow bypass channels to the west. But Natomas is built on what was previously mostly submerged rice fields. It the Sacramento River ever breached the levees and flooded the basin, many of the homes in the basin would be under more than 20 feet of water.

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Sacramento Dave
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Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am

During the historical floods of the gold rush days, 150 years ago, floodwater covered the Sacramento and San Joaquin Central Valley floors, so that they were impassable except by boat for hundreds of miles. Riverboats traveling from San Francisco to the east side of Sacramento could only navigate by following the tops of the trees that lined the river channels. Nearly the entire city of Sacramento was under water at that time. That was before the levees and the dams were built.

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Sacramento Dave
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Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am

The local effects of climate change are far reaching and devastating. Most hydro power plants throughout the mid-west all the way into northern Canada are running at way below normal capacity, forcing fossil to be burnt. Wind patterns and solar areas will change making formerly productive wind or solar farms uneconomical. Drought will cause food shortages and rising water levels combined with storms will make coastal cities a money pit. What will it take to get our politicians, including spin doctor Obama, to actually care about climate change - rather than who stuffs the most cash into their pockets?

Instant-RunOff-...
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Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am
Quote Sacramento Dave:.. then the currently active wildfires are equivalent to approximately one in every 200 acres of forested land in the state.
So, 0.5% ?

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stwo
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I reran the latest area totals for the 25 largest active fire footprints this morning (Thursday) and came up with 180,000 acres or 281 square miles. I gathered my data from Calfire and National Wildfire Coordinating Group websites.

For a good visual of the virtual footprint, I go to Google Earth, open "places" then "active fire mapping program" and then I check the first seven checkboxes. That turns on the satellite detection and FP layers. Then I zoom in.

Funny thing, if I zoom in to north western North Dakota, there are always thousands of satellite active fire detections. :?

ref: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/5/#

http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current?pc=5&cp=1

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Sacramento Dave
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Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am

Oil well flares

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stwo
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Check out this ecowatch article about the wildlifes. You MUST SEE the image on the 2nd page of the article! It's a firenado! It looks frightening!!

Also check out the map below that image. You can go to the website that generates these live fire maps.

On the 1st page of the article is a photo from space of the smoke from these fires and Alaska seems to have the most fires!

http://ecowatch.com/2015/08/19/wildfires-burn-drought-stricken-west/

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MrsBJLee
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Feb. 17, 2012 8:45 am

G E O E N G I N E E R I N G

http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/geoengineering-continues-to-rob-rain-from-where-it-is-most-needed/

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ABCee
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

The Okanogan Complex wildfire is now the largest in Washington State's history at more than 400 square miles.

And it's not the only wildfire in Washington State, and then there's Oregon.

Update of major wildfires in Washington and Oregon.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am
Quote .ren:

The Okanogan Complex wildfire is now the largest in Washington State's history at more than 400 square miles.

And it's not the only wildfire in Washington State, and then there's Oregon.

Update of major wildfires in Washington and Oregon.

OMG that's HORRIBLE!!!!! 400 SQUARE MILES OF FOREST GONE!!!

This is NOT GOOD!!!!!

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MrsBJLee
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Feb. 17, 2012 8:45 am
Quote MrsBJLee:
Quote .ren:

The Okanogan Complex wildfire is now the largest in Washington State's history at more than 400 square miles.

And it's not the only wildfire in Washington State, and then there's Oregon.

Update of major wildfires in Washington and Oregon.

OMG that's HORRIBLE!!!!! 400 SQUARE MILES OF FOREST GONE!!!

This is NOT GOOD!!!!!

Why horrible? What is aesthetically pleasing and liked by hikers or homeowners differs from what is good ecologically.

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stwo
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote stwo:
Quote MrsBJLee:
Quote .ren:

The Okanogan Complex wildfire is now the largest in Washington State's history at more than 400 square miles.

And it's not the only wildfire in Washington State, and then there's Oregon.

Update of major wildfires in Washington and Oregon.

OMG that's HORRIBLE!!!!! 400 SQUARE MILES OF FOREST GONE!!!

This is NOT GOOD!!!!!

Why horrible? What is aesthetically pleasing and liked by hikers or homeowners differs from what is good ecologically.

Are you off your rocker? You are just kidding RIGHT? Imagine how many animals lost their lives. Imagine how many trees are now gone. Aesthetic or not, we NEED those trees to create oxygen and to provide homes for our birds.

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MrsBJLee
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Feb. 17, 2012 8:45 am

A much smarter way to mitigate the risk from these fire-trap forests is to cull the waste/excess/diseased wood, which has caused some of the terrible forest fires, and in turn release vast amounts of CO2 and Soot into the atmosphere. Properly harvesting the Wood would result in much less fire hazard, much lower emissions & GHG gases, more productive and healthy CO2 absorbing forests. In western US, 30% forests are overstocked, have insect (bark beetle) and fire risk problems with associated carcinogenic fine particulate emissions. An abundance of underutilized WOOD with environmental problems & no economic return. In Washington, 20% forests have high fire risk. 1992-2001, forest wildfires emitted 65 million metric tons CO2 in Oregon is the carbon in ~740,700,00 barrels crude oil.

And Wood to biofuel means Methanol, a very simple process that has been done for over 350 years. That's why Methanol is traditionally called "Wood Alcohol". Mobile tranport-trailer sized Methanol plants could be moved to suitable areas where Wood waste is available. It is far more economical and energy efficient than the heavily subsidized, environmentally destructive ethanol production that totally dominates biofuels in the USA. An avg 1700 gals of precious water wasted to produce one gallon of corn ethanol. And methanol being the cleanest burning of all liquid fuels. One ton of dry Biomass produces 166 gal of methanol or 2890 kwh of thermal energy. Efficiency of conversion biomass to Methanol 45 to 66%. Forest residue conversion efficiencies to methanol = 45-55%. Such methanol costs 3 cents per mile a vehicle & 5 gms CO2/kwh vs 9 cents & 8 gms Solar, 5 cents & 20 gms biogas, 5 cents & 160 gms gasoline & diesel, 6 cents & 80 gms Ethanol. Sugar cane Ethanol 24-36 gal per Tonne dry biomass vs Wood Methanol 165 to 186 gals per tonne. The EPA calculates a 95% reduction in vehicle fire deaths by replacing gasoline with methanol.

http://deq.mt.gov/Energy/bioenergy/Biodiesel_Production_Educ_Presentations/KVogt_Pablo_NCAT_10_31_07.pdf

Instant-RunOff-...
Joined:
Jun. 17, 2015 11:41 am
Quote MrsBJLee:

Are you off your rocker? You are just kidding RIGHT? Imagine how many animals lost their lives. Imagine how many trees are now gone. Aesthetic or not, we NEED those trees to create oxygen and to provide homes for our birds.

Nope, im not kidding- most people are ignorant of the benefits of fire and how it fits in the natural forest cycle-

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stwo
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Northern forests face onslaught from heat and drought By Tim Radford

"Many northern hemisphere forests face destruction as climate change brings both fiercer droughts and higher temperatures."

Quote London, 31 August, 2015:

In the long term, many of the great oak forests of Europe or the giant redwoods and pines of America may not survive. US researchers foresee potential widespread loss of the great temperate forests of both continents.

Under the combined assault of increasing global temperatures and unprecedented drought, some forests could inexorably slide into savannah or scrubland.

Constance Millar is an ecologist with the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Pacific Southwest Station. She and a colleague, Nathan Stephenson of the US Geological Survey, report in the journal Science that the boreal forests of the fast-warming sub-Arctic zones are not the only imperilled woodlands.

They see climate change – driven by rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in turn fuelled by ever-greater fossil fuel combustion – as an emerging “mega-disturbance”: the bringer of not just longer and hotter droughts but of a new class of affliction, the unprecedented “global-change-type drought”.

This cumbersome terminology masks a spell of longer, more severe and hotter droughts that will set the circumstances for new insect pests, fresh plant diseases, invasive competitor species and more extensive and more severe wildfires.

Change imminent

Old forests matter: Dr Stephenson led a huge research team that in 2014 established – against intuition – that the oldest forest giants absorbed more carbon dioxide than young, fast-growing members of the same species.

But unless the professional and government foresters understand what is coming, stands of woodland that have for thousands of years survived periodic assault and then recovered could within decades convert to grassland, or low-growing shrub.

The scientists say that climate change and rising average global temperatures mean not just drought, but drought matched with increasing spells of prolonged heat, far more severe than anything experienced in the 20th century.

Air temperatures will mean that foliage in the canopy becomes too hot, drawing moisture from the leaf tissue at ever-faster rates. In the last century, heat would melt mountain snow in summer to supply more water to the forests in the dry seasons: in this century, most of the winter precipitation will be rain that will run off immediately. Forests will have fewer or no reserves.

Since forests are – in general – agencies that absorb atmospheric carbon, and help cool the planet, any loss can only accelerate global warming and create even more difficult conditions for the surviving woodlands.

The emergence of mega-disturbances, forest diebacks beyond the range of what we’ve normally seen over the last century, could be a game-changer

“Some temperate forests already appear to be showing chronic effects of warming temperatures, such as slow increases in tree deaths”, said Dr Stephenson. “But the emergence of mega-disturbances, forest diebacks beyond the range of what we’ve normally seen over the last century, could be a game-changer for how we plan for the future.”

Nor is there any guarantee that the end of a drought will permit young trees to recolonise the burnt, parched and blighted landscape: fast-growing grass and shrub species will get there first and block any regrowth.

Since forests support not just ecosystems and species that are beautiful for their own sakes and valuable both as resources and as tourist attractions, but also deliver “services” in the form of water management and global air-conditioning, human settlements will soon feel their loss.

Such research evokes the big picture. It embodies not just prediction but warning: if governments, state authorities and communities know what could happen, they can take steps to identify and manage the most vulnerable forests in ways that might increase resilience.

But the message is that unprecedented threat will require unprecedented action. “While we have been trying to manage for resilience to 20th century conditions, we realise now that we must prepare for transformations and attempt to ease these conversions,” said Dr Millar.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

I hope you're more then a lightening strike away in your location ren.

Little did we ever imagine back in the days when in joking about our demise of living in Cal. falling into the ocean did we dream of the west coast melting, that is just being washed away, into the Pacific. It was always the atomic bomb or earth quakes we jived about.

rs allen
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Mar. 15, 2012 4:55 pm

If the lightning strikes the hillside behind my home, I could be in trouble. The hillside, at least, has lots of trees, and we've been very dry here since May. So the trees are unusually dry. The cause of this dry hot weather we've been having is supposed to be related to this phenomenon:

The Blob

If read into a bit more closely, we find this about its cause and any possible relationship to a global warming phenomenon:

The immediate cause of the phenomenon is the lower than normal rates of heat loss from the sea to the atmosphere, compounded with lower than usual water circulation resulting in a static upper layer of water. Both of these are attributed to a static high pressure region in the atmosphere which has existed since spring 2014. The lack of air movement impacts the wind-forced currents and the wind-generated stirring of surface waters. These in turn have influenced the weather in the Pacific Northwest from the winter of 2013–2014 onwards and may have been associated with the unusually hot summer experienced in the continental Pacific Northwest in 2014.[7]

The reason for the phenomenon is unclear. Some experts consider that the wedge of warm water portends a cyclical change with the surface waters of the mid-latitude Pacific Ocean flipping from a cold phase to a warm phase in a cycle known as the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO).[1] This poorly-understood change happens at irregular intervals of years or decades. During a warm phase, the west Pacific becomes cooler and part of the eastern ocean warms; during the cool phase, these changes reverse.[8] Scientists believe a cold phase started in the late 1990s and the arrival of the Blob may be the start of the next warm phase. The PDO phases may also be related to the likelihood of El Nino events.[1]

NASA climatologist William Patzert predicts that if the PDO is at work here, there will be widespread climatological consequences and southern California and the American South may be in for a period of high precipitation, with an increase in the rate of global warming. Another climatologist, Matt Newman of the University of Colorado, does not think the Blob fits the pattern of a shift in the PDO. He believes the unusually warm water is due to the persistent area of high pressure stationary over the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Dan Cayan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is unsure about the ultimate cause of the phenomenon, but states "there's no doubt that this anomaly in sea surface temperature is very meaningful".[1]

Related to the above discussion, there is still a monster El Nino event brewing:

Starting from ENSO Blog/NOAA Climate.gov, two recent articles on the brewing EL Nino to consider:

One forecaster’s view on extreme El Niño in the eastern Pacific

August 2015 El Niño update: Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious

One Blob-related discussion point in case any reader is overwhelmed and misses it:

The latest state-of-the-art models are run with global sea surface temperatures (including Blob and warm Indian ocean) and most of them are still providing El Nino-like impacts over the United States. Because the models include these features, at this point, we are not projecting that the Blob and warm Indian Ocean would substantially disrupt the El Nino signal. Of course, keep in mind this winter could also be influenced by other, less predictable features like the AO/NAO and PNA. El Nino only allows forecasters to potentially "explain" a certain amount of rainfall or temperature variability, which is why we never guarantee these impacts.

Earlier on this blog, we posted an article by Dennis Hartmann ( LINK ) who discussed a possible tropical Pacific link with the Ridiculously Reslient Ridge (RRR) over the U.S. The tropics now have a very different pattern because of El Nino and, so as a result, it is more likely that the the RRR will weaken as we get into the winter.

I'm pleased to report we've been getting some high wind stormy rain over the past few days, thankfully, although the wind wasn't exactly welcomed. Lost a lot of apples and we are rushing to make cider, since most of them got bruised. It's still raining off and on, the wind's died, and no thunderstorms so far. Rain also brings the salmon in from the ocean. I guess it helps them navigate by smell with imprinted odors washed down into the Willapa with the rains, or something, to find their spawning grounds upstream. I'm not an ictheologist, so I'm going by what I hear on that.

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.ren
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America: Meet Your Overlord Rupert Murdoch...

Thom plus logo The main lesson that we've learned so far from the impeachment hearings is that if Richard Nixon had had a billionaire like Rupert Murdoch with a television network like Fox News behind him, he never would've resigned and America would have continued to be presided over by a criminal.
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