Smoke from wildfires in British Columbia cause hazy conditions that cast a strange hue over downtown Edmonton on Wednesday morning, 15 August 2018. Photo: Terry Reith / CBC

15 August 2018 (CBC News) – It's going to be another suffocating day in Alberta as smoke from wildfires in B.C. drifts east.

Much of the province is, once again, under a blanket of smoke and haze — and there is little relief in the forecast.

Environment Canada expects the haze will last for several days. Air quality is expected to be intermittently poor for the remainder of the week as an estimated 600 wildfires continue to burn across B.C.

A special air quality statement, issued by Environment Canada Wednesday afternoon, says the smoke blankets every region in the province.

Four of Edmonton's five outdoor pools were closed Wednesday morning as a result of the smoky air conditions. […]

Last week, Alberta Health Services issued a precautionary air quality advisory for the entire province. AHS said the advisory will remain in effect until further notice. [more]

Wildfire haze from B.C. raising air quality concerns across Alberta

There are hundreds of wildfires burning across British Columbia on 15 August 2018, including this one near the Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort near Tweedsmuir. Photo: Pondosy Bay Wilderness Resort

By Clare Hennig
15 August 2018

(CBC News) – Nearly 600 fires are burning across British Columbia, covering the sky in flame-coloured haze and blanketing the air with smoke.

A provincial state of emergency has been declared.

Dozens of evacuation orders and alerts are in effect in the north and central regions, affecting more than 20,000 people.

In Burns Lake, in the central Interior, hotels are at zero vacancy, so anyone without a place to stay is being told to drive to Prince George, over 200 kilometres away.

Fraser Lake Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom said Tuesday the smoky conditions and dark skies were unlike any he'd experienced in decades living in the village, some 130 kilometres west of Prince George.

Fraser Lake at about 4 p.m. PT on Tuesday, 14 August 2018. Sunset isn't until 8:51, but it was already getting dark as smoke from wildfires blotted out the sun. Photo: Andrew Kurjata / CBC

"It's probably one of the weirdest days I've ever had in my life," Lindstrom told Radio West guest host Audrey McKinnon. […]

In areas across the province, the skies darkened in the early afternoon on Tuesday — so much so that street lights turned on and residents drove around with headlights on as smoke and ash choked out the light. [more]

Here's what British Columbians are facing under a blanket of smoke and blazing wildfires

Screenshot from a video posted by Janelle Lapointe on 14 August 2018, showing the sky darkened by smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia. 'It’s only 3PM but the smoke decided it was night time.' Photo: Janelle Lapointe

By Imogen Birchard and John McGill
15 August 2018

(CBC Radio) – Trevor Chapman was forced to abandon his trailer park in Fraser Lake, B.C., as the wildfires around his home grew.

On Wednesday, the British Columbia government declared a state of emergency. Over 560 fires are burning across the province and thousands of people are under evacuation orders.

Chapmanspoke with As It Happens guest host Matt Galloway. Here is part of their conversation.

Here is part of their conversation.

At what point, Trevor, did you decide this is it, I got to get out of here?

My son had called me and basically told me to get myself a truck and get out.

What did it look like at that time?

Once it flared up, it was really bad. And you know, living in a trailer park, where you can't get insurance on your belongings or anything like that, you basically have no choice but to pack and leave — and hopefully it's still standing when you return.

What does really bad look like?

Well, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon it's suppose to be sunny and 27 degrees. Well, it looked like midnight. The awful pink and red glow in the sky was enough to give your head a shake and go, "Yeah okay, it's time to go." [more]

Afternoon skies look 'like midnight' in B.C. as wildfires rage, says evacuee

Fire danger map for British Columbia on 14 August 2018. With over 560 fires burning, BC continues to experience heightened BC wildfire activity. 3370 personnel are supporting ongoing wildfire response efforts. Graphic: BC Wildfire Service

15 August 2018 (BBC News) – A state of emergency has been declared by the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) as it battles more than 560 wildfires.

It will be in place across the entire western province for at least 14 days.

Hot and dry conditions, with a risk of thunderstorms in some parts of BC, are expected to continue over the coming days.

This is the second year in a row the province has battled significant wildfires on parts of its territory.

Over 3,000 people are under evacuation orders and another 18,700 are under evacuation alerts.

Fires are active throughout entire parts of the province.

"Public safety is always our first priority and, as wildfire activity is expected to increase, this is a progressive step in our wildfire response to make sure British Columbia has access to any and all resources necessary," said provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth in a statement on Wednesday.

This is the second state of emergency in 15 years declared by the province over wildfires.

Last year, BC was under a 10-week state of emergency to deal with blazes that eventually burned through 1.2 million hectares [4,633 square miles] of the province.

Parts of the province's lower mainland and the city of Vancouver have been shrouded in smoke from the fires, prompting public health warnings. [more]

Canada's British Columbia wildfires prompt state of emergency

Donald J. Trump and Mike Pence shake the hands of 193rd Special Operations Wing Airmen, and Airmen’s family and friends, Middletown, Pennsylvania, 29 April 2017. Photo: 1st Sgt. Culeen Shaffer / 193rd Special Operations Wing

By Emily Holden
14 August 2018

(POLITICO) – The Trump administration is preparing to unveil its plan for undoing Barack Obama’s most ambitious climate regulation — offering a replacement that would do far less to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, according to POLITICO’s review of a portion of the unpublished draft.

The new climate proposal for coal-burning power plants, expected to be released in the coming days, would give states wide latitude to write their own modest regulations for coal plants or even seek permission to opt out, according to the document and a source who has read other sections of the draft.

That’s a sharp contrast from the aims of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a 2015 regulation that would have sped a shift away from coal use and toward less-polluting sources such as natural gas, wind and solar. That plan was the centerpiece of Obama’s pledge for the U.S. to cut carbon dioxide emissions as part of the Paris climate agreement, which President Donald Trump has said he plans to exit.

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that both carbon emissions and pollutants such as soot and smog would be higher under its new proposal than under the Clean Power Plan. And Trump’s critics call it a recipe for abandoning the effort to take on one of the world’s most urgent problems.

The proposal would be “another, more official, sign that the government of the United States is not committed to climate policy,” said Janet McCabe, EPA’s air chief under Obama.

McCabe said based on a description of the proposal, it would offer "a significant amount of discretion to states to decide that nothing at all needs to be done."

Many red states and several companies sued over the Clean Power Plan, and a federal appeals court was nearing a decision when Trump’s EPA asked for time to rewrite the rule. McCabe said the proposal could be meant to eat up time and stall a future president from quickly regulating greenhouse gases. [more]

Exclusive: Draft details Trump’s plan for reversing Obama climate rule

By Cliff Mass
15 August 2018

(Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog) – Air quality in western Washington is very poor right now.

Incredibly, in central Puget Sound it is probably the worst in the nearly two-decade observing record of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for any time of the year.

I have been here a long time and I have never seen anything this bad.  The view from the Seattle SpaceNeedle Panocam is murky.

And the view from my department is very limited … no mountains and can't even see across the Lake.

But now, let me really impress (or depress) you.  Below is a plot of 24-h average particulate concentration (PM2.5) in the atmosphere at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Duwamish site in Seattle.  The past 24-h was the worst on record for any time of the year.  Number two was the smoky period last summer. […]

Graph of 24-hour average particulate concentration (PM2.5) in the atmosphere at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Duwamish site in Seattle on 15 August 2018. The past 24-hour period was the worst on record for any time of the year. Number two was the smoky period last summer. Graphic: Cliff Mass

So why did our near surface air quality get so bad so fast?

Fires were burning for quite a few weeks in British Columbia, California, and eastern Washington, but western Washington had clean air at low levels (off the Pacific) with smoke aloft.  But on Monday, surface high pressure started to build in north and east of us (see map), resulting in easterly and northeasterly flow over the Cascades that brought the smoke over and down the terrain into western WA--allowing smoke to get to the surface. [more]

Seattle's Worst 24h Air Quality on Record

Interannual probabilistic forecast of the SST anomalies. a–c Mean prediction of SST anomaly for the next 5 years for three different averaging times: annual, 2, and 5 years; horizontal black lines correspond to the mean, ±1, and ±2 standard deviations of the climatological distribution. Circles and squares represent mean predictions with coefficient of determination bigger and smaller than 0.2; colorscale represents the mean prediction of the SST anomaly; the vertical colored lines represent ±1 standard deviation of prediction distributions. Stars denote the most likely state from the distributions. d–f Prediction of SST distribution (in percent) for 1, 2, and 5 years in advance with respect to 2017. Gray histograms in the background represent the asymptotic, climatological distribution; vertical blue lines represent the current position used to initialize the forecast system; vertical black lines correspond to the mean, ±1, and ±2 standard deviations of the climatological distribution. g–i Distribution of probability anomaly (in percent), probability changes with respect to the climatological distribution, for the 1, 2, and 5 years in advance predictions. Background colorscale represents ±0–1, 1–2, and more than 2 standard deviations, respectively, consistently with moderate, intense, and extreme events. Graphic: Sévellec and Sybren Drijfhout, 2018 / Nature Communications

PARIS, 14 August 2018 (CNRS) – This summer's world-wide heatwave makes 2018 a particularly hot year. As will be the next few years, according to a study led by Florian Sévellec, a CNRS researcher at the Laboratory for Ocean Physics and Remote Sensing (LOPS) (CNRS/IFREMER/IRD/University of Brest) and at the University of Southampton, and published in the 14 August 2018 edition of Nature Communications. Using a new method, the study shows that at the global level, 2018–2022 may be an even hotter period than expected based on current global warming.

Warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is not linear: it appears to have lapsed in the early 21st century, a phenomenon known as a global warming hiatus. A new method for predicting mean temperatures, however, suggests that the next few years will likely be hotter than expected.

The system, developed by researchers at CNRS, the University of Southampton and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, does not use traditional simulation techniques. Instead, it applies a statistical method to search 20th and 21st century climate simulations made using several reference models1 to find 'analogues' of current climate conditions and deduce future possibilities. The precision and reliability of this probabilistic system proved to be at least equivalent to current methods, particularly for the purpose of simulating the global warming hiatus of the beginning of this century.

The new method predicts that mean air temperature may be abnormally high in 2018-2022 – higher than figures inferred from anthropogenic global warming alone. In particular, this is due to a low probability of intense cold events. The phenomenon is even more salient with respect to sea surface temperatures, due to a high probability of heat events, which, in the presence of certain conditions, can cause an increase in tropical storm activity. 

Once the algorithm is 'learned' (a process which takes a few minutes), predictions are obtained in a few hundredths of a second on a laptop. In comparison, supercomputers require a week using traditional simulation methods.

For the moment, the method only yields an overall average, but scientists now would like to adapt it to make regional predictions and, in addition to temperatures, estimate precipitation and drought trends.


2018-2022 expected to be abnormally hot years

ABSTRACT: In a changing climate, there is an ever-increasing societal demand for accurate and reliable interannual predictions. Accurate and reliable interannual predictions of global temperatures are key for determining the regional climate change impacts that scale with global temperature, such as precipitation extremes, severe droughts, or intense hurricane activity, for instance. However, the chaotic nature of the climate system limits prediction accuracy on such timescales. Here we develop a novel method to predict global-mean surface air temperature and sea surface temperature, based on transfer operators, which allows, by-design, probabilistic forecasts. The prediction accuracy is equivalent to operational forecasts and its reliability is high. The post-1998 global warming hiatus is well predicted. For 2018–2022, the probabilistic forecast indicates a warmer than normal period, with respect to the forced trend. This will temporarily reinforce the long-term global warming trend. The coming warm period is associated with an increased likelihood of intense to extreme temperatures. The important numerical efficiency of the method (a few hundredths of a second on a laptop) opens the possibility for real-time probabilistic predictions carried out on personal mobile devices.

A novel probabilistic forecast system predicting anomalously warm 2018-2022 reinforcing the long-term global warming trend

People sleep outside in Karachi, Pakistan amid sweltering temperatures, 18 May 2018. Photo: Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

By Jonathan Watts and Elle Hunt
13 August 2018

(The Guardian) – Imagine a city at 50C (122F). The pavements are empty, the parks quiet, entire neighbourhoods appear uninhabited. Nobody with a choice ventures outside during daylight hours. Only at night do the denizens emerge, HG Wells-style, into the streets – though, in temperatures that high, even darkness no longer provides relief. Uncooled air is treated like effluent: to be flushed as quickly as possible.

School playgrounds are silent as pupils shelter inside. In the hottest hours of the day, working outdoors is banned. The only people in sight are those who do not have access to air conditioning, who have no escape from the blanket of heat: the poor, the homeless, undocumented labourers. Society is divided into the cool haves and the hot have-nots.

Those without the option of sheltering indoors can rely only on shade, or perhaps a water-soaked sheet hung in front of a fan. Construction workers, motor-rickshaw drivers and street hawkers cover up head to toe to stay cool. The wealthy, meanwhile, go from one climate-conditioned environment to another: homes, cars, offices, gymnasiums, malls.

Asphalt heats up 10-20C higher than the air. You really could fry an egg on the pavement. A dog’s paws would blister on a short walk, so pets are kept behind closed doors. There are fewer animals overall; many species of mammals and birds have migrated to cooler environments, perhaps at a higher altitude – or perished. Reptiles, unable to regulate their body temperatures or dramatically expand their range, are worst placed to adapt. Even insects suffer. […]

Melting asphalt caused road markings to distort in New Delhi, during a 2015 heatwave. Photo: Harish Tyagi / EPA

At 50C – halfway to water’s boiling point and more than 10C above a healthy body temperature – heat becomes toxic. Human cells start to cook, blood thickens, muscles lock around the lungs and the brain is choked of oxygen. In dry conditions, sweat – the body’s in-built cooling system – can lessen the impact. But this protection weakens if there is already moisture in the air.

A so-called “wet-bulb temperature” (which factors in humidity) of just 35C can be fatal after a few hours to even the fittest person, and scientists warn climate change will make such conditions increasingly common in India, Pakistan, south-east Asia and parts of China. Even under the most optimistic predictions for emissions reductions, experts say almost half the world’s population will be exposed to potentially deadly heat for 20 days a year by 2100.

Not long ago, 50C was considered an anomaly, but it is increasingly widespread. Earlier this year, the 1.1 million residents of Nawabshah, Pakistan, endured the hottest April ever recorded on Earth, as temperatures hit 50.2C. In neighbouring India two years earlier, the town of Phalodi sweltered in 51C – the country’s hottest ever day.

Dev Niyogi, professor at Purdue University, Indiana, and chair of the Urban Environment department at the American Meteorological Society, witnessed how cities were affected by extreme heat on a research trip to New Delhi and Pune during that 2015 heatwave in India, which killed more than 2,000 people.

“You could see the physical change. Road surfaces started to melt, neighbourhoods went quiet because people didn’t go out and water vapour rose off the ground like a desert mirage,” he recalls.

“We must hope that we don’t see 50C. That would be uncharted territory. Infrastructure would be crippled and ecosystem services would start to break down, with long-term consequences.” […]

Children play in the water fountains at the Place des Arts in Montreal, Canada on a hot summer day 3 July 2018. Photo: Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images

At the Australian open in Melbourne this year – when ambient temperatures reached 40C – players were staggering around like “punch-drunk boxers” due to heatstroke. Even walking outside can feel oppressive at higher temperatures. “The blast of furnace-like heat … literally feels life-threatening and apocalyptic,” says Nigel Tapper, professor of environmental science at Melbourne’s Monash University, of the 48C recorded in parts of the city. “You cannot move outside for more than a few minutes.” [more]

Halfway to boiling: the city at 50C

Home Minister Rajnath Singh conducts an aerial survey of the flood-affected regions of Kerala state, 12 August 2018. CM Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister KJ Alphons are also with him. Photo: ANI

15 August 2018 (Livemint) – Kerala today shut the Kochi airport till Saturday as rains returned to wreak more havoc in the state. Eighteen people have been killed so far today, and thousands others are being evacuated from the fresh Kerala floods. The state has opened 35 of its dams, a first in history. Kerala was just limping back to normalcy after the worst floods since 1924 killed 39 over the last week. So far, more than 1 lakh people have been rescued in the state.

“Kochi Airport operations temporarily suspended till 18th Saturday 2pm since the inflow of water is still on a raising trend. We are working hard to drain out the storm water,” Cochin International Airport Ltd said in a notice on its website.

Not just the Kochi airport, the city too came under water due to Kerala floods today. […]

The death toll in the Kerala floods has risen to 67, with at 18 deaths being reported today. A person died in a Munnar lodge collapse. A 70-year-old woman was electrocuted near Pathanamthitta as her house was submerged. Landslides claimed lives in Malappuram too. In Thiruvananthapuram district, a 70-year-old man died after the wall of his house collapsed. Two landslides occurred in Idukki late evening, killing five people. Four persons were reported missing in the landslips. […]

Amid floods across Kerala, CM Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted that 35 reservoirs in the state are now releasing water, even as several districts of the state are facing floods. “A red alert has been issued for Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur, Kasargod, Thrissur, Kottayam, Alappuzha, and Pathanamthitta districts.” [more]

Kerala floods LIVE: Death toll rises to 67, Tamil Nadu agrees to lower Mullaperiyar Dam’s water level

The Idukki Dam in Kerala, India, with spillways fully open due to the worst flooding since 1924, 15 August 2018. Photo: PTI

KOCHI, India, 15 August 2018 (PTI) – Heavy rains again hit Kerala on Wednesday killing four more people and taking the death toll to 45 since August 8.

It has been raining heavily in several parts of the state since Tuesday evening. The authorities were forced to open 33 dams across Kerala.

Those reported dead on Wednesday were a couple in Malappuram who were crushed after their house crumbled. Their six-year-old child is missing.

A person died in a Munnar lodge as it crashed. A 70-year-old woman in Ranni near Pathanamthitta was electrocuted as her house was submerged.

The Idukki dam floodgates were reopened late on Tuesday as the water level in the Periyar river and its tributaries flowing through Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose menacingly.

Following flooding in and around the Cochin International Airport, all flights were cancelled till 18 August 2018.

The decision to suspend the operations was taken after shutters of the Idamalayar and Cheruthoni dams, part of Idukki reservoir, were opened last evening to release excess water. […]

An aerial view of the flood-hit areas of Kerala, India, 15 August 2018. Photo: PTI

Torrential rains, overflowing rivers and a series of landslides have claimed 40 lives in Kerala. The Met has forecast more rains till Saturday.

Authorities are maintaining a close vigil especially in Idukki district as the shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam were also opened at 2.35 am after its water-level crossed 140 feet.

People living in and around the dam were evacuated late on Tuesday. Leaves of all revenue department officials have been cancelled, authorities said.

With increased water flow into the Idamalayar and Idukki dams in Kerala late Tuesday night due to incessant rains, authorities began to evacuate about 5,000 persons living in and around the two reservoirs, a police official said. […]

According to authorities, water level in Mullaperiyar dam was 138 feet on Tuesday night. If its shutters are opened, the water will flow to the Idukki dam, where water level stands at 2,397.42 feet.

The view from a rooftop of the flooding in Kerala, India, 15 August 2018. Photo: PTI

Rains in Idukki yet again on Tuesday increased water inflow into the Idukki dam, forcing authorities in the night to open two of the five sluices shut down on Monday.

The Idukki dam was discharging 7.50 lakh litres of water per second, causing worry to authorities as more water in the Periyar river and its tributaries could lead to flooding of parts of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts, as was seen in the past week.

Heavy rains lashed Kerala's Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad districts, triggering fresh landslides and adding to the woes of a state battling the worst flooding in 94 years. […]

Unprecedented rains and flooding - the worst since 1924 - have left at least 40 people dead and thousands in relief camps. Many moaned that they had lost virtually all their possessions after surging waters swept away whatever they possessed. […]

Wayanad: A Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) bus is stranded in a flooded street in Sultan Bathery, india, 15 August 2018. Photo: ANI

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that Kerala was passing through one of its worst times and urged the people to cooperate with the government in bringing relief to the suffering. […]

Rains which started on August 8 are said to have caused the worst damage to Kerala since 1924. Over 50,000 people are in relief camps and the damages to crops and properties is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore. [more]

Kerala floods: Kochi airport shut till August 18; red alert issued

Dead fish lie on a beach in Florida, 14 Augusat 2018. A red tide in Florida has been killing thousands of marine animals, leaving beaches and shorelines covered with dead wildlife. Photo: Chris O'Meara / AP

By Alexa Lardieri
14 August 2018

(U.S. News & World Report) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for several counties suffering from the impacts of a prolonged red tide.

According to the governor's declaration , red tide is a naturally occuring algae that appears almost every year on Florida's Gulf Coast. However, the tide is toxic and it has been killing thousands of marine animals, leaving beaches and shorelines covered with dead wildlife.

With Scott's emergency declaration, the state will be able to dedicate more funding and resources to the communities suffering from the effects of the red tide "so we can combat its terrible impacts."

The order is in place for Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. It will make Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists and scientists available to assist in animal rescue efforts, as well as cleanup efforts. The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium will receive more than $100,000 in additional funding to increase its response to the red tide.

Additionally, $500,000 will be allocated to help local communities maintain their tourism industries, "that support so many Florida families and businesses." About $1.3 million has been allocated to Lee County alone, which has been hit particularly hard, according to the governor's declaration.

"While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover," Scott said in his declaration.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission , red tides can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year. The tides produce toxic chemicals called brevetoxins that can harm the central nervous systems of fish. Swimming is usually safe during red tide, but it could cause skin irritation or lead to serious illness for those with severe or chronic respiratory conditions. Controlling a red tide is especially difficult, the Conservation Commission explains, because any controls must kill the red tide organism and eliminate the toxins the organism releases when it dies.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Declares State of Emergency Amid Red Tide Crisis


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