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OT: Northern California Fires


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There's any number of scientific papers and other articles that explore climate change and how it may relate to fires (among other things). I'm sure there's some that may argue the opposite way, especially these days when everything is "fair and balanced". I'm the one who brought it up, so I'll just say that I don't know 100% that there's a connection--and I doubt the scientists would say that either. But it's looking more likely as we get more data. And of course this is only one factor in how bad fires may be.

 

Personally I'm looking to get out of hurricane central fairly soon, and retire up north where it'll be warm (and not boiling hot) :D

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I'm no scientist. But after Australia fires last year and other big fires climate change can't be helping.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/24/weather/california-wildfires-climate-change/index.html

 

Experts pointed to poor forest management in Australia as well. There are recent governmental policies that prohibit prescribed burns and other proactive land management, combined with an especially dry season this made for a disaster waiting to happen. This will happen with or without climate change, a phrase that seems to be applied to any variance in weather we deem negative.

 

The same thing caused the wildfires in Brazil: recent government policies prohibited prescribed burns, the creation of fire-breaks, and other land management and the result was predictable after enough natural kindling had built up over years.

 

Proper land management and forest policies can vastly outweigh any changes the climate is throwing at us. Arson and human error also need to be addressed more effectively.

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Well, living in Sonoma County, I've had a front row seat for the last three fires in four years. Evacuated twice. Thankfully not this time, but you can't live here and not know people that have lost homes, been evacuated, etc. In the last four years, its gone from something that happened 70 years ago to something happening every year. So far, this year is the first time that it is natural causes. The others PGE was responsible for with poor line maintenance.

 

The changing weather patterns are producing a longer and deeper exposure window for hot, dry winds.

 

It's not one thing, but all the things are clearly interacting in a way and with a frequency that is not historic, even for the area.

 

Most of that is not my job or expertise. I do know that the air is unhealthy today, and I'm staying indoors.

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At one point today -- such as when I went outside to get the mail and wondered if my own neighbourhood was on fire due to how strong the smoke and smell were -- we hit an AQI value of 327, which is into the most extreme maroon zone labeled "hazardous to health".

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yeah this is bad. I live in Sausalito, very near Adan, north of Lobo, west of Tim & Greg, south of Nathanial (not sure where you are Mark S.), but this smoke and terrible air is everywhere. Where I'm at, the smoke seems to be coming and going. A couple of days back we had our bags packed and sitting by the door, it seemed like any moment everything was going to catch fire. As I speak right now it's OK - an onshore wind came and blew the smoke out.

 

I'm using PurpleAir too, cray cray to see those horrible indexes. We've got our purifiers going. The other day we went out searching for fresh air. We found some up by Bodega Bay.

 

With all that, it must be 100x worse for folks living in or near the actual fires. And to think about the firefighters march into the beast, wearing super heavy clothing and equipment, doing highly dangerous work to keep the rest of us safe, my hat is off to them.

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I went through the Thomas Fire here in Ventura County in December of 2017, which was the largest fire in California history at the time. The record was broken the next year in the Santa Rosa fires, and I believe the ones going now have set new records for size.

 

The speed and intensity in these conditions are stunning; the Thomas Fire burned 45 of our 50 acre ranch. I was there until the very end when it started coming towards the houses and the fire folks told me to high tail it out. It was the third fire since my family has owned the property - 1948, 1985, and then 2017. I wasn't born for the 1948, and was in college for the 1985, but came up the next day. This last one I was there the entire time, and like many of you spent the days after in tremendously dirty air as we were putting in new water and irrigation lines. Thankfully our houses have survived each of those fires, but that last time by mere feet.

 

My heart goes out to everyone in NoCal going through this.

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I live south of San Jose in Morgan Hill. Two nights ago I was one street over from having to evacuate. All my gear is at a friends house (including my Rhodes 73, Roland SH-1000, and Juno 106 from "back in the day"). Hoping the warnings go away, and I don't have to worry till next time. When you pack up your car, your photos, your legal documents, .... it all starts sinking in. My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes and possessions that they can never replace. Hang in there till this awful year is a thing in the past.

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Wow guys...this post is extremely vivid and really gives me an insight into what you have been, and are going through. Hearing about these fires is absolutely terrible & distressing - is there anything on earth more terrifying than fire? - but as a far away observer I generally don't think about the implications with regard to air quality etc. when hearing news reports. I cannot begin to imagine how horrible it must be to not be able to access fresh air....something so many of us just take for granted.

 

I really hope the situation improves quickly and that strong preventative measures are able to be implemented, ready for the future. I hope each of you, and all your loved ones, stays safe. Please take care. What a year!!

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I'm no scientist. But after Australia fires last year and other big fires climate change can't be helping.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/24/weather/california-wildfires-climate-change/index.html

 

Experts pointed to poor forest management in Australia as well. There are recent governmental policies that prohibit prescribed burns and other proactive land management, combined with an especially dry season this made for a disaster waiting to happen. This will happen with or without climate change, a phrase that seems to be applied to any variance in weather we deem negative.

 

The same thing caused the wildfires in Brazil: recent government policies prohibited prescribed burns, the creation of fire-breaks, and other land management and the result was predictable after enough natural kindling had built up over years.

 

Proper land management and forest policies can vastly outweigh any changes the climate is throwing at us. Arson and human error also need to be addressed more effectively.

Well in Australia we had an established practice for 60,000 years of selective burning of the bush each year based on our first peoples knowledge of wind and weather patterns. Over the last 200 years as the bush was converted to grazing and pasture that practice was discontinued and for the past 40 years there have a vociferous group who argue nature should be left alone and not interferred with by man. Now there is renewed engagement of our first people to manage the bush going forward.

 

As for the climate change impact , yes we have always had bush fires, but the incidence of bushfire weather conditions is increasing. Better bush management may limit the ferocity of these fires, but it will not stop them starting.

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I cannot begin to imagine how horrible it must be to not be able to access fresh air....something so many of us just take for granted.

 

ar!!

 

purple air.com is my friend.

 

I am in east contra Costa county.

 

If my local area got a reading over 250, I simply did not go outside. Kept house windows closed.

I avoided hazardous air quality.

 

Recently, over the past 5 days, in my area, the readings have varied from 80 to 140.

This morning the AQ index is 105.

 

With that and for me, I would go for a walk, bike ride in the early morning hours.

 

My home and immediate 30 mile area was not threatened by the wild fires.

Beyond that, it was severe fire danger.

 

SF Bay Area[inc. San Jose ] is a very large and diverse area. Santa Cruz, Napa

and Sonoma are neighboring counties.

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Today the index at my home is 157. I'm right on the ocean, which doesn't seem to help at all. The air is so smokey, it hurts to breathe and stings the eyes. It smells of smoke everywhere. It will get too warm in the house to keep the windows and deck doors closed, but I'll have to just to be able to continue breathing.

 

Edit: AQ index rose to 178 at noon.

These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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Where I live we're just a tad under 100 - mid '90s. Thanks so much to Adan for pointing me to the purple air.com site - hadn't heard of it before his kind post. Glad to be working from the house, and very grateful our home is pretty air-tight safe.

 

I know others right here in Northern Cali aren't so fortunate - they tell me with all their windows closed and such, the smell of smoke still permeates their home. Not good.

..
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- they tell me with all their windows closed and such, the smell of smoke still permeates their home. Not good.
Yes, that's at my house right on the ocean. AQ index now up to 180 and continues to rise..
These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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We usually go up to Lake Tahoe where we have a small cabin during episodes like this, because it's rare for it to be smokey both in the Bay Area and up there. But lately it has been. Today it's around 100 where I live, but it's 250 in Tahoe. When it's that high, you just want to get out. Wildfires and smoke have always been a part of life in most of California. This is unusual in how widespread it's been and how long it has lasted.

 

Hot weather is coming back by the weekend. Strong winds are not forecast, so what I'm hearing is that while this may slow down efforts to extinguish the fires, it won't necessarily make them bigger.

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Strong easterly winds the last day or so have made things worse. At 10:30 am it is literally as dark as night around the Bay Area. My solar panels are showing zero production, that's how little sunlight is breaking through the high level of smoke.

 

Ground level smoke is not terrible right now, around 120 where we live, barely in the unhealthy zone, so at least there's that. It feels apocalyptic but at least we can breathe.

 

The situation is much worse up north where there are new and spreading fires near habited areas. On purpleair.com I can see readings in the 4 and 500's in some places.

 

When this thread was started the fires were mostly in Northern California. Now it's the entire west coast -- California, Oregon, and Washington.

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Orange sky here. Streetlights are on at 10:45 in the morning. It's so dark I have to have lights on in my house to see. Particulate matter high in the air causes the darkened orange sky, but the marine layer below it keeps some fresh air coming in so air quality index is not too bad. But it's rising and will get worse.
These are only my opinions, not supported by any actual knowledge, experience, or expertise.
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I'm in the high desert in northern most part of Los Angeles Country. One of the earlier fires was close and we had the orange glow and air full of ashe, but the last few days morning sky is just a orange-brown glow. You step outside and the air is hot, thick, and smells burnt. Each fire season over the last decade gets worse and like it or not it climate change is responsible.

 

Right now all I can say is THANK YOU to all the firefighters and the people that support them so they can do their best to try and get these fires under control.

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I woke up at 7am this morning (Wednesday) after not really sleeping well. Saw the orange glow and took some photos of the windows. Posted at work as I do camera technology and it's an interesting white balance problem. Phrased it as a joke 'cause I figured it would be temporary. Tried to get some more sleep, woke up a couple hours later and it was darker and oranger. And everyone at work and elsewhere was discussing how cellphones handle extreme color casts in lighting... Between the darkness and reading about Ashland OR, today was a real downer, even by the standards of the year so far.

 

SF has been pretty lucky re: smoke. Only a day or two I'd say was really bad. Today was insane in terms of visuals, but it was our standard foggy chilly temperatures and just a bit elevated on air quality. Today looked like hell, but the weekend before felt like it.

 

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It's worth repeating that this year's fires have already been perhaps the worst in modern history, and yet "fire season" as we normally think of it hasn't even arrived yet. Normally, we don't even start to think about fires until October, which is when dryness and easterly winds typically combine to produce large scale fires. Those conditions can continue well into November. The first set of fires, about a month ago now, were the result of a freak occurrence of dry lightning. The fires from a couple days ago are the result of the more typical dry, windy conditions, the difference is they happened more than a month earlier than usual. Maybe the Western states will catch a break and the "normal" fire season won't be so bad. That seems like a slim hope. A safer bet is that the rest of the season will double the amount of fires. But that's also just a wild guess. There doesn't seem to be a limit to how bad this fire season could be before it's over.

 

This will surely change a lot about how people think about fire risk in the western United States. For example, fire insurance rates will rise (as they already have over the past few years), discouraging people from living in fire prone areas. Arguably, that's exactly what should happen. Unfortunately, a major reason people live in those areas is because they are more affordable.

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The first set of fires, about a month ago now, were the result of a freak occurrence of dry lightning. The fires from a couple days ago are the result of the more typical dry, windy conditions, .

At least your fires came from natural causes. One of our current conflagrations was started by pyrotechnics at a gender reveal party.

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I looked up some statistics today - in California around 2.5 to 3 million acres have burnt. Down here we lost 31 million for the season so I have everything crossed you don't experience the same.
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Here yesterday was our first break in the heat and it was quite a relief for everyone, but it has it's darkside the cooler temp's bring winds that fan the fires. The sky is overcast now but not the burnt orange they were. Now the next part of the cycle is all the ground cover is burnt off how bad will the rainy season be. We need the rain for water, but hate to see the flooding and mudslides in the fire areas. Nature has it ways and we have to learn to live with nature not expect nature to change for us.
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I looked up some statistics today - in California around 2.5 to 3 million acres have burnt. Down here we lost 31 million for the season so I have everything crossed you don't experience the same.

 

Yes, I've thought about Australia and the fact that one event has followed closely the other. Doing some quick math, I calculate that the fires burned 1.6% of Australia. 2.86% of California has already burned this year, and again, fire season is not even close to over.

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The next issue is probably already starting. It is easy to see all the plant life destroyed by the fire but it destroyed where so many animals live and feed. So now snakes, rodents, and other wild life start heading into residential areas looking for water and food. When a kid living in L.A. I remember really big fires in the Santa Monica mountains which are close to residential and business areas. In less than a week even our house about ten miles away were got an infestation of field mice in our shrubs. The city had to come out and deal with it the whole neighborhood was full of field mice and other rodents. These fires upset the whole balance of things.
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