Last edited by PurpleSkyz on Wed May 04, 2016 11:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire
1 UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Wed May 04, 2016 10:42 am
2 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Wed May 04, 2016 4:00 pm
3 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Wed May 04, 2016 5:52 pm
Emergency situation now ongoing in Fort McMurray, Alberta where a massive wildfire in this northern climate zone is engulfing the city. This is a very dangerous developing situation that includes hundreds of structure fires and what is now the largest evacuation in the history of Alberta — the first time an entire Canadian city has ever had to evacuate due to a wildfire. Frequent updates to follow (refresh page for new updates).
(BBC report on the latest news from Fort McMurray.)
Conditions Consistent With Climate Change Fan Massive Fire Invading City Made by Tar Sands Production
Monday, a massive wildfire began to encroach upon the City of Fort McMurray, Alberta — a region of Canada known for its production of the hothouse gas emitting tar sands. An emission that has almost certainly contributed to increasing fire danger to the city of recent years and decades as tar sands crude is one of the highest carbon fuels now in production.
The McMurray Fire slowly expanded over the weekend under unseasonably hot and dry conditions. It, surprised fire officials by jumping the Athabasca River on Monday night and, with a switch in the wind toward the southwest, began to approach and invade northward into the city on Tuesday . By early evening Wednesday, the fire still raged out of control — swelling to more than 10,000 hectares as more than 1,600 buildings fell victim to the flames.
Fort McMurray Mayor Reid Fiest in a tweet at 12:05 PM Wednesday briefly described what is now a city under existential threat :
And by 2:37 PM, fire activity within the city had become so intense that the roof of the Fort McMurray emergency operations center began to smolder and those working within were ordered to evacuate.The catastrophic wildfire is 10,000 ha and resisted all the suppression efforts. Today’s weather could cause explosive conditions.
(It was hotter in Northwest Canada Tuesday than it was in the Central US. Extreme heat related to human-forced warming that contributed to a dangerous developing fire situation in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)
The southerly winds and hot airs fanning such explosive conditions ran up behind a high amplitude wave in the Jet Stream pushing temperatures into the upper 80s and lower 90s (F) — readings that are about 30-35 degrees (F) above average for this time of year — over a broad swath of Northwestern Canada on Tuesday. The heat-baked air wrung out moisture and drew humidity readings into the very dry 20 percent range. Similar extreme fire conditions are now continuing into Wednesday — with temperatures in Fort McMurray predicted to hit 87 degrees — as the fire now burns through the city proper.
For this region of Canada, these are highly abnormal conditions consistent with weather pattern alterations forced by human-caused climate change.
Pyrocumulus cloud over Fort McMurray on Tuesday. Clouds of this kind can form in the strong updraft zone of powerful wildfires. During recent years, pyrocumulus formation over the Arctic and other northern regions during spring and summer has been very intense and widespread. A climate change enhanced phenomena that could rightly be called ‘The Clouds of My Grandchildren.’ Image source: Randy Vanberg.
To the north, a very early recession of sea ice in the Beaufort and an opening up of waters there likely assisted this Jet Stream anomaly, a related strong high pressure system, extreme high temperatures, and hot southerly winds that pushed fire conditions in Alberta to unprecedented levels . The south winds, far, far hotter than normal temperatures and very low humidity contributed to a very dangerous situation fanning flames as they encroached upon and invaded the city — burning structures, igniting oil fires and forcing motorists to abandon their vehicles. All while a massive pyrocumulus cloud expanded — casting a dark shadow and dumping soot over this bitumen-laden region of Alberta.
“This (fire) is consistent with what we expect from human-caused climate change affecting our fire regime,” noted Mike Flannigan a wildfire researcher at the University of Alberta who was cited in a report on the climate context of the McMurray Fire on Wednesday.
All Fort McMurray City Residents Ordered to Flee
As of latest reports, all of Fort McMurray’s city proper has been placed under mandatory evacuation orders. That makes for a total of more than 88,000 people evacuated so far. Including outlying suburbs and migrant residents, the city likely includes more than 100,000 souls — a good number of whom will also be forced to leave. A fire-driven evacuation of this size — basically resulting in the mandatory emptying of an entire city — has never occurred before in the history of Alberta. And the odd nature of this event is magnified by the fact that a very large early May fire — a period when fire activity is typically far more quiescent — is the cause.
(Abasand resident pleas for assistance as fires encroach.)
Many residents, like Jenine in the tweet above, had to scramble to vehicles as fires approached their neighborhoods on Tuesday, spurring some to turn to social media in order to plea for assistance. The proximity of the flames was so close that many residents were unable to bring any personal belongings. With the entire city being ordered to evacuate, both lanes of Highway 63 were used for outbound traffic. Even so, motorists remained stuck in gridlock or stop and go traffic and were forced to drive through billowing smoke and along beside the raging fires. Some vehicles stalled in the hot winds or simply ran out of gas — leaving highway 63 strewn with empty cars, trucks, and buses.
The flow of evacuees has been driven northward ahead of the fire. Emergency shelters have popped up all along route 63 with many tar sands workers hunkering down in camps within the extraction zone itself. A region that may also fall under threat by the fire.
The closest tar sands facilities are located within 16 miles of the city center. However, fuels for the fires in the form of trees run right up to the edge of the industrial zone and southerly winds expected to continue through late morning on Thursday may drive the flames closer. After that time, a front sweeping in from the north should shift the wind direction to northwest — pushing the fires away from these facilities. Currently, the possibility of the fires affecting these facilities is low. However, both Shell and Suncor have now suspended operations.
Huge Mobilization Underway, But Much of the City May Succumb to the Fire
Firefighters, who early on Tuesday acknowledged the severity of the situation , are now scrambling to deal with numerous very large blazes entering and raging throughout the town. Social media imagery now shows gas stations, stores, and homes all being encroached upon or engulfed by the growing fires. As of current reports, more than 1,600 structures been destroyed by the flames. By 2:28 PM, these included 70 percent of the homes in Beacon Hill, 50 percent of the homes in Abasand, 90 percent of the homes in Waterway, and about 60 other homes and additional structures lost throughout other sections of the city. Unfortunately, given the severity of the situation, the number of burned structures is likely to grow as the day progresses.
Large active fires running north of a huge, 15 kilometer, burn scar. Satellite shot of Fort McMurray Fire and burn scars posted in the NASA twitter feed on Wednesday afternoon.
Considering the massive pall of smoke covering Fort McMurray and the fact that firefighters have been overwhelmed by the intensity of the fires — leaving many structures to burn — the situation has grown completely out of control. National officials are scrambling to allocate more resources to attempt to abate what is a very difficult and dangerous inferno. A national emergency has been declared and an outpouring of assistance and resources is now aimed in the direction of Fort McMurray. Reports as of Wednesday afternoon indicated that there were 250 firefighters on the ground in the fire zone with more on the way.
However, with numerous other fires now raging throughout Canada and with fire conditions at extreme levels over such a large area, at least one province — British Columbia — is already at the limits of its fire suppression manpower and was unable to provide aid to Fort McMurray. As a result, Alberta officials are now making calls for military assistance as fires expand through the city and into northern zones along the Athabasca River.
(Best hopes and prayers to everyone involved in this terrible situation. Please stay safe and stay tuned to official broadcasts for updated information on fires and evacuations.)
Fort McMurray Homes Destroyed as Wildfire Forces Mandatory Evacuation Orders
Fort McMurray Residents take to Social Media as Situation Intensifies
Jenine’s Twitter Feed
Canadian Fire Danger Map
Fort McMurray Area Updates
It’s Apocalyptic. No Way out But North.
Here’s the Climate Context for the Fort McMurray Wildfire
NASA Twitter Feed
Hat tip to Cate
Hat tip to Mike Crews
Hat tip to Andy in San Diego
Hat tip to DT Lange
Hat tip to Redsky
Hat tip to TodaysGuestIs
Thanks to: https://robertscribbler.com/
4 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Wed May 04, 2016 7:51 pm
5 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Thu May 05, 2016 11:19 pm
May 2015 – CANADA – The situation playing out in the oil-built city of Fort McMurray right now is nothing short of a catastrophe: a wildfire that covers around 10,000 hectares of land has forced the 80,000 people that once lived there to pack their bags and flee. In the chaos, two people died in a crash on the highway. Entire neighborhoods have been razed, millions of dollars in damage has been done, and the fire—now almost five times the size it was when the evacuation began—shows no sign of slowing down.
Due to the size and heat of the blaze, firefighters are having a near-impossible time fighting the fire, with some experts saying that, short of an inland tsunami, only a severe change in weather will be able to actually quell the flames for good. With uncertainty in what might happen, images of residents and emergency responders have emerged on social media by the troves.
Dashcam videos from those who got out have been especially revealing. A lot of images coming out of the fire have been from the inside of vehicles on packed highways and smoky streets. One posted yesterday, from a YouTube channel that has a series of dash cam videos from inside Fort McMurray, shows the apocalyptic scenery inside the evacuation zone as ash and embers rain down on a parade of cars trying to make it to the highway.
The evacuation itself was swift but disorderly. In many videos, cars can be seen driving over grass, clearing curbs and even cutting through backyards to get away from the burning neighbourhoods behind them. First responders continue to arrive and the current number of firefighters on scene is around 150, according to the CBC.
Some locals have also come together to bring fuel, food, water, and clothing to those stranded on the outskirts of the city or on nearby highways. An Edmonton man posted on Facebook yesterday that he would be taking as much as he could towards Fort McMurray, asking anyone who needed help to put a sock on their antenna to alert him. The post received nearly 60,000 shares in less than 24 hours, and similar posts have emerged on Twitter since then. –Vice
Thanks to: https://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/
6 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Thu May 05, 2016 11:23 pm
The simple fact of the matter, a fact that many invested in a destructive oil industry do not want to now face, is that a fire whose early-season extreme intensity was fueled by human-caused climate change is now doing what Canada would not. It is shutting in oil production in the tar sands — one of the highest carbon fuels on planet Earth.
(Increases in fire frequency due to climate change as predicted by model runs are illustrated in the map above. According to a report at WeatherUnderground — “A large increase in fires over much of the globe is expected as we move through this century. Using fire models driven by output from sixteen climate models used in the 2007 IPCC report, researchers found that 38% of the planet should see increases in fire activity [due to climate change] over the next 30 years. This figure increases to 62% by the end of the century.” Image source: Climate Change and Disruptions to Global Fire Activity .)
There are other facts that need to be faced as well. One is the fact that Fort McMurray and all its residents have had their lives put at risk by a new kind of fire that is now much more likely to occur. A kind of event that will tend to emerge with a rising frequency and intensity. One that is increasing the risk of harm to those living throughout Canada, throughout the Arctic and throughout much of the world.
It’s a tough truth to face. One that many Canadian politicians confronting the impossible task of balancing the demands of oil-based economic interests with the very clear need to mitigate climate change are having difficulty coming to grips with. But one that must be seriously looked at and not ignored by anyone concerned for the safety of those living in Fort McMurray or anywhere else. For unless the greenhouse gasses from the burning of fossil fuels like the tar sands stop hitting our atmosphere, then these kinds of events will just keep getting worse.
We are already starting to see terrible wildfire events of the kind we have never before experienced emerging in the Arctic and in sections of Northern North America. And with the world now 1 C warmer that 1880s averages, large Arctic wildfires are now ten times more likely to occur . In Alaska — a region that shares climate trends with Canada — the length of the fire season has grown by 40 percent since the 1950s.
Across the globe, the story is much the same. Heating of our atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is increasing fire frequency and intensity. A point that even conservative IPCC projections have been attempting to impress upon policy-makers since the early 1990s (see graphic above). And, in significant part, this rising danger has been contributed to by the tar sands fuels Fort McMurray’s energy industry was designed to extract.
(A study by Climate Central last year found that warming in Alaska had resulted in a lengthening of the fire season by 40 percent and that the pace of large fire generation had increased by tenfold [x10]. It’s worth noting that climate and foliage in Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories are very similar to those in Alaska. And increasing fire intensity and frequency due to warming in Alaska is also impacting the Canadian fire regime as well. Image source: The Age of Alaskan Wildfires .)
Despite the risky and harmful policy choices driven by the fossil fuel industry in Canada, we should not be callous to the loss and dislocation many within the tar sands production zone are now enduring. It’s a tragedy. Plain and simple. Thousands of people have lost their homes and livelihoods. But we should not allow ourselves to be blinded to the reality of the situation simply due to the fact that it is an oil community, this time, suffering from the ravages of extreme climate conditions. For thousands of Canadians are now joining a growing pool of climate change refugees. Victims of and, some of them, contributors to a catastrophe born out of an oil-industry spread hubris and blindness. An event that shines a light on the continued and increasing risks posed by tar sands extraction and on the vulnerability of that harmful fuel’s economic underpinnings to the very climate forces it is now starting to set loose.
Rapidly Expanding Fire Forces Airport and the Anzac Community 31 Miles Away From Fort McMurray to Evacuate
(Pyrocumulus — a storm cloud forming from the heat updraft of an intense fire. A word that will start to enter common usage as human-forced climate change makes powerful fires more and more common. Here we see a massive pyrocumulus approaching Anzac and the Fort McMurray Airport on Wednesday. Image source: Sean Amato’s Twitter Feed .)
Yesterday, as firefighters scrambled to protect the Fort McMurray city center and northern outliers, a massive fire besieging the city boiled and grew. Held back from its north-bound progress into neighborhoods along the Athabasca River, toward the barren tar sands extraction area, and into the water treatment plant by firefighting efforts, the fire swelled as it retreated. Turning to the south and east, it began to encroach upon the city’s airport even as one of its offshoots exploded toward the well-populated suburb of Anzac 30 miles to the south.
There, an emergency operations center had just set up after being forced to move from its downtown location when a rain of embers cast out from the pyrocumulus cloud looming over the city set its roof to smoldering. The new operations center was well away from the projected northbound path of the blaze. And officials had some reason to believe the recently-moved center would be safe. A southern evacuation center — housing hundreds of people now rendered homeless by the fire — was also set up in the area.
(Fort McMurray Fire invades Anzac beneath a towering pyrocumulus Wednesday evening. Image source: Emily Metrz’s Twitter Feed .)
By Wednesday afternoon, the airport, the Anzac community, the newly moved emergency operations center, and the evacuation center all fell under the shadow of a swelling pyrocumulus. A great storm of smoke, ash and burning embers thrown up from the heat of the blaze beneath. All in this area were forced to evacuate (a good number for the second time in as many days) as the huge cloud grew and the fires advanced.
As night fell, smoke shrouded the airport — blocking it from view. And many firefighters already knew the community of Anzac would be lost. Sean Amato tweeted this message Wednesday evening as the fire advanced — “Firefighter [says], ‘Anzac is f**cked. We can’t fight that. We have no bombers. Get out now.'”
(Thermal fire map provided by NASA on Thursday reveals the extraordinary extent of the fires and burn scars as of May 4 — covering around 10,000 hectares. By May 5, this zone had vastly expanded to 85,000 hectares. Image source: NASA’s Earth Observatory .)
By Thursday, a massive area stretching from the airport to Anzac had been abandoned to the fire. Greatly adding to the 10,000 hectares the huge blaze was estimated to have burned as of noon Wednesday by expanding the fire more than 8-fold to 85,000 hectares — an area six times the size of San Fransisco or more than 300 square miles.
Tar Sands Production Shut-in
At this point, fires had displaced so many workers and crippled so much infrastructure that tar sands production in the region came to a grinding halt. As of early Thursday morning more than 640,000 barrels per day of the climatologically volatile synthetic crude had halted . Representing more than 16 percent of Canada’s crude production, the fire-forced cuts were significant enough to drive oil prices in the global markets as high as 46 dollars a barrel in trading earlier today . More production shut ins were likely with other major tar sands extractors scrambling to slash oil flows as the Fort McMurray blaze became ever-less predictable. Near Anzac, the southern extent of the fires threatened a 30,000 barrel per day Conoco Philips tar sands production facility in the Surmont region — forcing a production halt and the evacuation of all tar sands workers.
(LANCE-MODIS satellite shot of Fort McMurray Fire on Thursday, May 5 shows the fire expanding toward tar sands extraction facilities. For reference, tar sands operations are pit mines plainly visible as brown, bald areas in the image above. Most of Fort McMurray is covered by the smoke plume. Bottom edge of frame is 60 miles. Image Source: LANCE-MODIS .)
By late Thursday afternoon, the passing MODIS satellite revealed a very large fire whose northern extent appears to have reached within 3-5 kilometers of the southern-most tar sands facilities. The western edge of the Fort McMurray fire expanding to feature a 10-15 kilometer front creeping along to the north and west. The southern and eastern edges of the blaze remaining obscured by what is now a very large smoke plume. One that is likely now visible in the skies over northern and central states of the US.
A Long Battle Ahead as Temperatures are Predicted to Remain Much Hotter Than Normal
A wind shift to the north along with the influx of cooler temperatures on Thursday may help firefighters gain some progress. Conditions over Fort McMurray today were cloudy with 10-15 mph winds out of the northwest and temperatures around 64 (F). However, little to no rain fell over the area as a front swept through this morning. Meanwhile, thermometer readings are expected to climb into the middle 80s again on Saturday with very dry conditions taking hold.
To this point, it is only May — not July when such extreme fire weather would typically be possible. Average temperatures for Fort McMurray tend toward the upper 50s or lower 60s this time of year. So even today’s readings of 64 F are warmer than usual with temperatures predicted to rocket to 20-25 F above average again by Saturday. Given this trend, and given the fact that it will grow still hotter and drier in the months ahead, it looks like Fort McMurray — a city in the grips of the hard climate consequences it helped to create — is in for a long, rough fight.
Climate Change and Disruptions to Global Fire Activity
The Age of Alaskan Wildfires
Here’s the Climate Context for the Fort McMurray Wildfire
The Impact of Climate Change on Wildfires
Raging Wildfire in Canada Fuels Oil Prices
Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center
Sean Amato’s Twitter Feed
New Evacuations in Fire-Stricken Fort McMurray
NASA’s Earth Observatory
Hat tip to Wharf Rat
Hat tip to TodaysGuestIs
Thanks to: https://robertscribbler.com
7 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 8:50 am
8 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 9:18 am
9 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 9:19 am
10 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 9:19 am
11 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 9:20 am
12 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 4:47 pm
13 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 5:06 pm
and welcome to Out Of Mind.
there is more to this story coming I think.
I feel for the animal and bird life.
14 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 5:08 pm
and here we go...
15 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 5:09 pm
16 Re: UPDATES ~ Alberta Wildfire on Fri May 06, 2016 6:49 pm
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