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Schroder
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PostSat May 06, 2023 3:48 pm 
The season is starting early in Alberta More Than 24,500 Are Evacuated as Wildfires Burn in Western Canada At a news conference Saturday afternoon, the leader of Alberta’s provincial government, Premier Danielle Smith, called the wildfires an “unprecedented crisis.” She added: “This is a rapidly evolving situation.” The number of active wildfires across Alberta grew to more than 100 on Friday night, up from 78 earlier in the day. As of early Saturday, more than one-third were still classified as “out of control.” In northern Alberta, 20 households, a police station and a water-treatment plant were lost to wildfire in the rural community of Fox Lake, authorities said Friday night. Communities under evacuation order included Athabasca, Big Lakes, Brazeau, Grande Prairie and Yellowhead counties and the town of Edson, officials said Saturday afternoon.

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Eric Hansen
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PostSat May 06, 2023 5:51 pm 
The North American (Continental) model of wild land fire predictive services shows considerable "red zone" developing just north of the U.S. border. But not in Alberta until June. Early start See https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/NA_Outlook.pdf Here's the U.S. map. https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/outlooks.htm Who knows? Nice to see their data but time will tell what pattern develops.

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gb
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PostSun May 07, 2023 7:35 am 
We get our first heatwave towards this weekend. More problematic has been the spring pattern of slow moving closed lows off Oregon and California that put us in unstable south to SE flow aloft. The recent thunderstorms attest to this. Expect more thunderstorms the latter half of next week. The mountains are still moist enough we will weather these events....for now. FWIW, Western Washington has only rarely seen thunderstorms until the past decade or so.....from this same recurring weather pattern.

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neek
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PostSun May 07, 2023 7:55 am 
gb wrote:
FWIW, Western Washington has only rarely seen thunderstorms until the past decade or so.....from this same recurring weather pattern.
Is there data on this? I've lived here for almost 50 years and recall many thunderstorms from childhood. Big ones like we've rarely had in the past couple decades. Of course everything seemed bigger back then. Not doubting you, I'm just surprised to hear it.

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treeswarper
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PostSun May 07, 2023 9:00 am 
The Friday evening fireworks were impressive here in Okanogan County. It wasn't just the cloud to cloud version, it also was the many pronged ground strikes. Might ride up lower Salmon Cr. if the road is open and see how high the water is later today.

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PostSun May 07, 2023 9:08 am 
neek wrote:
Is there data on this
Of course Western Washington has a history of lightning. As I understand, nearly every forest in Western Washington has burned at some point in Earth's history and it wasn't Native Americans torching them, it was lightning starting the fire. Where is Cliff Mass when we need him?

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Gil
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PostSun May 07, 2023 9:26 am 
The drought in the Plains looks really bad considering how early in the year it is. It looks similar to the situation nine years ago when I shot a series on the Ogallala Aquifer for NBC News. Thank goodness the West looks to be in a bit better shape.

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altasnob
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PostSun May 07, 2023 9:49 am 
I don't see how anything West of the Continental Divide could be considered "drought" right now. Look at how fat the snowpack is that is about to melt off. It was probably one of the biggest snow winters in the Western US in history:

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gb
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PostSun May 07, 2023 10:07 am 
neek wrote:
gb wrote:
FWIW, Western Washington has only rarely seen thunderstorms until the past decade or so.....from this same recurring weather pattern.
Is there data on this? I've lived here for almost 50 years and recall many thunderstorms from childhood. Big ones like we've rarely had in the past couple decades. Of course everything seemed bigger back then. Not doubting you, I'm just surprised to hear it.
It's from memory. I started interest in meteorology in about the 4th grade. And I have been actively using weather maps since about 1980 or 81. I grew up in Seattle with a great view of the Olympic Mountains and so I could see basically the weather west of Seattle most any day I was at home. I lived there until 2009. The first extensive lightning storm I saw in the Olympics was in 1994 or 1995. That one started a fire in the Elwha. Lightning storms are now frequent. The reason is as I've said above. Look at the the current Discussion
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Little change in the pattern from yesterday with the longwave upper trough still camped over the Northwest. Several weak closed 500 mb lows within this larger trough will be the foci for showers today. One weak embedded shortwave impulse currently over eastern Oregon and west-central Idaho is moving northward while three stronger closed upper lows off the coast will dance around each other today, with the strongest moving toward the Oregon and California border later tonight. Most shower activity will remain confined to the Cascades and Olympics today, but cannot rule out a shower or two in the lowlands as well. Highs will top out in the upper 50s to around 60 this afternoon. Slightly greater shower chances for Monday as the this stronger aforementioned closed upper low and associated vort max pivot across Oregon towards far southeastern Washington and northern Idaho. This results in more widespread Chance PoPs over the Cascades, though lesser chances over the Olympics and Peninsula. Some weak instability due in part to the lower mid-level heights and colder air aloft could result in a few thunderstorms over the Cascades with stronger downpours. Cannot entirely rule out some of these straying into the foothills as well, though most instability will stay over the mountains.
Figure when the air at nearer the surface comes from the south it is warm and yet if there is upper level low pressure it is still very cold aloft in this scenario (which is the current one as well). Hence instability and thunderstorms. Watch for this to happen again after the warm spell this coming weekend. It shows up on current long range weather maps. The reason for these cut-off lows, at least so frequently, is the slowing jet stream due to changes in polar conditions. I've seen studies on the slowing jet stream going back several years; by now there should have been some work on cut-off areas of Low Pressure. This, on the wet side, is really the reason why when rainfall occurs, it is more likely to be heavy because systems are not progressive. The record rainfall a couple of days ago is an example of this.

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gb
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PostSun May 07, 2023 10:31 am 
altasnob wrote:
neek wrote:
Is there data on this
Of course Western Washington has a history of lightning. As I understand, nearly every forest in Western Washington has burned at some point in Earth's history and it wasn't Native Americans torching them, it was lightning starting the fire.
Of course we've had big fires over a very long period of history; I'm talking about the frequency in the past 15 years, really dating to the Leavenworth fires around 1994. Although one was started by a human, the one on Round Mountain was not, as were the simultaneous fires in the Alpine lakes - see Summit Chief. Then came 2015 - the driest winter in history - and numerous lightning fires that year and really since then excepting 2011 and 2017 - which were extremely wet. 90% of Washington fires are human caused and 50% in BC; but the remote ones are probably about inversely that proportion as there aren't people there - see the Pasayten as the best example.

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gb
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PostSun May 07, 2023 10:40 am 
altasnob wrote:
I don't see how anything West of the Continental Divide could be considered "drought" right now. Look at how fat the snowpack is that is about to melt off. It was probably one of the biggest snow winters in the Western US in history:
That is not true, the Drought monitor says abnormally dry. Seattle is 5-1/2" below normal rainfall this rainfall winter and mountain snowpacks are now mostly below average despite the coldest spring in many years (maybe since 2011). Check out the snowpack depths after the coming heatwave and you will see we will only be 75-85% of normal. Snow depths and SWE are not the same thing. Cold weather yields lower density snowpacks without that much water content. When it does warm as it is currently (and will be for the next 10-15 days), below average SWE will show up and will rapidly translate to below average snowpack depths in climatology (watch NWAC).

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Gil
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PostSun May 07, 2023 10:56 pm 
altasnob's graphic indeed does show snow-water equivalent, so a pretty good measurement of where things stand with snowpack. The drought monitor uses snowpack but also a bunch of other measurements, so there can be drought even if things look snow-covered.

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gb
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PostMon May 08, 2023 7:18 am 
Gil wrote:
altasnob's graphic indeed does show snow-water equivalent, so a pretty good measurement of where things stand with snowpack. The drought monitor uses snowpack but also a bunch of other measurements, so there can be drought even if things look snow-covered.
Yeah, I was thinking more Washington where the drought monitor shows abnormally dry over Western Washington with Seattle having received 5" less rain than normal. Snowpacks in Washington would best be described as mediocre, and that is before the coming six-ten day heatwave in the mountains. Our snowpack to this point does not reflect lots of snow just cool temperatures. I think BC is just fair as well.

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gb
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PostMon May 08, 2023 7:27 am 
Yeah here is the Western Canada one:

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altasnob
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PostMon May 08, 2023 9:16 am 
gb wrote:
Snowpacks in Washington would best be described as mediocre
The USDA snowpack map I posted shows above normal snowpacks in the Olympics, Central and Southern Cascades, with only the North Cascades below normal (as of May 3rd). How is that mediocre? Is the map wrong? I assume the map relies on real world telemetry observations (snow depth height) and puts it all together to spit out a percentage of normal number? I read somewhere that North Bend, WA had one of the driest winters ever, yet Alpental ski area still received normal snowfall. I believe this is because while we received less rain overall than normal, it was colder than normal, with less warm snow melting atmospheric river events.

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