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gb
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PostMon May 08, 2023 12:54 pm 
The PACNW Snotel sites basin averages as of May 8th are running 78-85% east of the Cascades and 85-88% West of the Cascades. In fact the only thing skewing averages is the fact that certain low elevation sites are above average undoubtedly due to below average temperatures thus far. I knew that peak snowpack depths were just fair at ski areas and that is also shown in this data - the reason being we haven't had normal precipitation and snowfall this winter in Washington. Even Pigtail Peak (5800) at White Pass is in the 75th percentile or so although above average at the road. You can look at this actual data or not - I don't care. https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow_comp/basin_summary.php I suspect you are stuck on some perception. Southern Oregon and California are a completely different issue. However, the heatwave the next 6-15 days will have significant impacts. Look at the same data above https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow_comp/basin_summary.php after about May 15th and you will see a radical departure from "normal".

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Joey
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PostMon May 08, 2023 3:10 pm 
Alberta wildfires have quieted down a lot. Dark red is a MODIS/VIIRS satellite heat detection within prior 6 hours. See legend link upper left corner for more info.
View larger size in new window

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PostMon May 08, 2023 5:06 pm 
gb wrote:
You can look at this actual data or not - I don't care. https://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow_comp/basin_summary.php I suspect you are stuck on some perception.
I am not stuck on any perspective. But if I (or anyone) just looks at raw data to try to find overall trends and conclusions, my own biases may cloud my conclusion. That's what algorithms are for. USDA (which is updated daily) is still saying we are at or above normal for Olympics, Central, and Southern Cascades. So why is USDA wrong about this?

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gb
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PostMon May 08, 2023 5:55 pm 
Just for examples. The higher averages from simplistic data are biased by low elevation sites that don't matter. Snow below 3500' and probably 4200' in Eastern Washington will be gone next week.

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PostMon May 08, 2023 5:58 pm 
Interesting. I didn't see any snowpack that seemed above average at Stevens Pass while skiing this year. In fact even at the end of the season most of the backside had brush visible.

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PostMon May 08, 2023 8:27 pm 
I would suggest NOT putting a huge amount of faith in using snowpack depths as a proxy for how our wildfire season might turn out. Wildfire severity is determined, largely, by the dryness of larger fuels; those fuels in the range of 3” diameter and larger. Simply put….the ‘larger’ the fuel burning -the harder it is to control. Firefighters can work comfortably around flame lengths about 4’ foot long. The drier the bigger fuels, the more intense the fire is. All fuels give up - and take in - moisture at a given rate according to temperature and humidity. Snow doesnt always add a lot of moisture - especially if it is dry snow, or if the fuels get a bit of moisture, then freeze in a shallow early season snowpack, and then frozen surface repels much of the rest of the winter moisture. FAR more important - as far as fire season, and again severity - is the moisture that we get from about now until the middle of June or early July. Snowpack can make a difference in the occurrence of higher elevation fires - e.g. a late/deep snowpack can mean the highest elevation fuels cant dry out sufficiently in a relatively short summer season. That is a pretty quick explanation of fire behavior. That said…here is the predictions of some folks who DO know about this… The National outlook from NIFC in Boise; https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/outlooks.htm You can see that central OR and the southern portions of the Eastern WA cascades are looking for ‘above’ average fire seasons. If you go to the bottom of that page -and click on the ‘Northwest’ part of the US map - you get to the NWCC predictions page. There is a 12 minute video of charts and discussions for the NW. https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/predict/outlook.aspx. The conclusions are in the last few minutes. These are update about the first of the month during fire season. This one that came out for May is a general one of the US. I think there will be a more NW specific one later on.

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PostWed May 10, 2023 7:06 am 
Schroder's original post noted wildfires in Alberta. The Guardian posted an article this morning describing a new book analyzing massive 2016 Alberta wildfires and other newly intensive wildfires. Not pleasant reading. Like Nagasaki’: devastating wildfires will only get worse, new book warns https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/may/10/fire-weather-john-valliant-new-book-alberta-wildfire Canada ‘Like Nagasaki’: devastating wildfires will only get worse, new book warns Author John Vaillant’s Fire Weather chronicles the 2016 Fort McMurray blaze – Canada’s costliest natural disaster Leyland Cecco in Toronto Wed 10 May 2023 05.30 EDT The wildfire that barrelled towards the northern Canadian city of Fort McMurray in 2016 was far more destructive and ferocious than anything anyone had ever seen. The apocalyptic blaze vaporized buildings, moving so fast it seemed gasoline had been poured on the ground. Twinkling embers that fell from the sky ignited anything they touched. The fire, dubbed The Beast, proved to be Canada’s costliest natural disaster, totalling more than $9bn in damages. It obliterated much of the city’s infrastructure and displaced thousands of residents All of the forecasts and hourly weather information about a wildfire approaching Fort MacMurray in 2016 were correct. But even though officials took the fire seriously, there is little they could have done, said writer John Vaillant. A flock of geese fly through smoke from the Fort McMurray wildfire above a helicopter staging base near Conklin, Alberta, Saturday, May 7, 2016. Canadian officials feared the massive wildfire could double in size by the end of Saturday as they continue to evacuate residents of fire-ravaged Fort McMurray from work camps north of Alberta’s oil sands city. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT Alberta wildfires leave Fort McMurray charred and desolate – in pictures Read more “Officials based their response on prior experience. But no one could quite believe how fast that fire moved,” he said. “And what climate change is promising us and showing us over and over again, are things we’ve never seen before.” The world has entered an unprecedented era of wildfire danger, Vaillant argues in his upcoming book Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World which chronicles the devastation of Fort McMurray and warns of a hotter, more volatile future. The book comes at a grim milestone for the province of Alberta, as officials issue a state of emergency and thousands flee large blazes – the worst start to the season since 2016. On Monday, the province’s premier requested federal assistance as more than two dozen wildfires burned out of control. More than 30,000 residents have been forced to flee their homes and sustained hot weather is expected to remain in the province for at least a week, complicating efforts to combat the fires. “There is no question that this is a challenging time,” said premier Danielle Smith. “Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes and their jobs. They’re leaving behind all they own.” Already, nearly 350,000 hectares have burned in the province this year – far greater than the 800 hectare average. Alberta is no stranger to wildfires, fighting thousands of blazes each summer. The biggest fire ever measured in North America was Alberta in 1950. But in his book Vaillant describes a new type of wildfire, one that burns hotter, larger and more aggressively – and is becoming increasingly common. The whole city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the gateway to Canada’s oil sands region, was under a mandatory evacuation order The whole city of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the gateway to Canada’s oil sands region, was under a mandatory evacuation order because of a wildfire in May 2016. Photograph: Cbc News/Reuters “Fires are natural. What isn’t natural is something that cauterizes the landscape. Entire houses, 50-tonne objects, volatilize [convert into combustible gases] in five minutes,” he said. Boreal forests, which span much of the northern hemisphere, have historically been a damp biome, full of bogs, creeks and swamps. But for decades, a climate trending towards warmer, drier summers means many of those wet areas have dried up, leaving a tinder-like ecosystem. Vast swaths of burnable forest and land collide with the reality that when the larger, more unwieldy fires burn, they can create their own weather systems, called pyrocumulonimbus clouds. In 2017, fires in British Columbia and Washington state produced five simultaneous pyrocumulonimbi, which eventually joined into one weather system. The next year, Vaillant witnessed a rare and incredibly powerful fire tornado in Redding, California. “It was like looking at Nagasaki. I’ve never seen destruction like that. It was profound. It was absolutely shocking. And most people have never seen it. They can’t envision it, they don’t understand it.” In places where fire is a common part of the landscape, bigger blazes are happening with greater frequency. California’s 10 biggest fires ever have been in the last two years. Even places that don’t normally experience wildfires are seeing their skies clouded with ash. In 2017, Greenland experienced a rare wildfire. It was like looking at Nagasaki. I’ve never seen destruction like that. It was profound John Valliant “It’s a polar ice cap, surrounded by tundra that’s only exposed for a few weeks a year. Fires like that have never happened,” said Vaillant. That same year, every single European country had wildfires. “That’s also never happened. There’s a ton of firsts – but they’re all the wrong kind of firsts.” Vaillant’s previous books, The Golden Spruce and The Tiger, have looked at the complex and often destructive effects humans have on the natural world. In Fire Weather, he describes how fire has long underpinned global societies, protecting, comforting and feeding humans for thousands of years. But no amount of human-made fires comes close to the vast scale of burning fossil fuels in the present day. “Fire is complicated. And we have to be able to deal with the fact that that little blue flame on the stove is the same chemical reaction that has driven 30,000 people out of their homes in Alberta over the past couple of days.” Barge Runs Aground During Vancouver Windstorm, British Columbia, Canada - 15 Nov 2021<br>Mandatory Credit: Photo by Quinn Bender/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock (12604371a) A sea barge collides with the shore of Vancouver's English Bay during a storm carrying northwest winds of 70 km/h gusting to 90 km/h. Barge Runs Aground During Vancouver Windstorm, British Columbia, Canada - 15 Nov 2021 ‘A tipping point’: how poor forestry fuels floods and fires in western Canada Read more As cities bear the growing cost of the climate crisis, Vaillant warns society has been “lulled through spectacular engineering … and disingenuous marketing” into a sense of ease and comfort with all the widespread fossil fuel combustion. Few cities represent that clash more than Fort McMurray, a city of wealth and industrial power set deep in the hinterlands of Canada’s west and an oil industry that has seen first-hand the devastation wrought a from a highly flammable landscape. “This is a city of winners and conquerors. They do everything that they set out to do and have more heavy equipment than probably just about anywhere on Earth. If you want to change the planet, you can do it in Fort McMurray,” he said. That change is a sprawling series of scars etched deep into the face of the earth, part of industry’s relentless push for more oil. The oil sands operations, which use heavy machinery to mine the landscape for bitumen and steam to extract oil, is visible from space. “If a city as wealthy and well equipped and as far north as Fort McMurray can burn like that, when there’s still ice on the riverbanks, and ice on the local lakes, then a fire like this could probably burn anywhere,” he said. Topics Canada Wildfires Climate crisis features Reuse this content

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PostWed May 10, 2023 9:55 am 
BC Wildfires and smoke already a significant concern. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-wildfires-may-9-2023-1.6837259

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PostWed May 10, 2023 10:18 am 
Eric Hansen wrote:
Few cities represent that clash more than Fort McMurray, a city of wealth and industrial power set deep in the hinterlands of Canada’s west and an oil industry that has seen first-hand the devastation wrought a from a highly flammable landscape.
Also notable in this area are 3 of the largest kraft pulp mills in North America and several smaller CTMP mills that together comprise a significant portion of our paper products supply.

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PostFri May 12, 2023 7:07 am 
Have a plan. I keep my travel trailer ready to go. A bit of water in the tank, and some food stored inside. We are already in fire season. Fires are started by morons burning brush and then leaving it to smolder. Wish the county would have an area to haul debris to and where it could safely be burned or chipped. Some of the towns, like this one, have a couple days where they haul, or you haul, your yard debris to a chipper, but on the same day that was available, a neighbor was burning their leaves and smoked up the night air. Good luck.

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PostFri May 12, 2023 10:04 am 
Same here. Our county has a nice area to dump yard waste and a huge chipper but everyone still burns leaves and branches. Or on the beach they dump everything into the Sound.

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PostSat May 13, 2023 7:47 am 
May 11, new North American assessment from predictive services for May thru July Value here is in seeing assessments for nearby Canada, as well as U.S. Those forecasts note conditions favoring above normal fire activity. https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/NA_Outlook.pdf

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PostThu May 18, 2023 10:31 am 
Latest from AirNow

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PostThu Jun 01, 2023 7:59 pm 
Predictive Services posted a new outlook today for Lower 48 states for June-September. They are seeing above normal potential for significant wildfire in Washington for July, August. Also, eerily, for northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula (I'm Wisconsin based). Maps and analysis at https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf

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PostThu Jun 01, 2023 11:04 pm 
jinx'sboy wrote:
I would suggest NOT putting a huge amount of faith in using snowpack depths as a proxy for how our wildfire season might turn out. Wildfire severity is determined, largely, by the dryness of larger fuels; those fuels in the range of 3” diameter and larger. Simply put….the ‘larger’ the fuel burning -the harder it is to control. Firefighters can work comfortably around flame lengths about 4’ foot long. The drier the bigger fuels, the more intense the fire is. All fuels give up - and take in - moisture at a given rate according to temperature and humidity. Snow doesnt always add a lot of moisture - especially if it is dry snow, or if the fuels get a bit of moisture, then freeze in a shallow early season snowpack, and then frozen surface repels much of the rest of the winter moisture. FAR more important - as far as fire season, and again severity - is the moisture that we get from about now until the middle of June or early July. Snowpack can make a difference in the occurrence of higher elevation fires - e.g. a late/deep snowpack can mean the highest elevation fuels cant dry out sufficiently in a relatively short summer season.
This makes more sense than just considering snowpack - especially if it melts quickly. Our lowland soils are already quite dry. FWIW, here's a chart of 2023 Seattle precipitation so far. I believe it was determined that the Boldt Creek fire of last year was human-caused. Never did hear if they caught the responsible party. I don't know if there are any statistics that track human caused vs. lightning fires, but given the idiot behaviors re fires already documented for this year here and one from last year, we could be in for a rough season, and snow pack is obviously irrelevant in these instances.

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