Saturday, September 12, 2020

Fire Situation Update

The novelty of all this has worn off and now it's just getting sad and depressing. 

This afternoon the AQI (Air Quality Index) here was 553, "Hazardous." That's the highest I've seen for here, or for Portland. They say the west coast has the worst air in the world. I'm not even letting my cats go outside.

This image in the NY Times shows the western fires and, in Oregon, those in the Cascade Mountains sending their smoke west, dumping it straight into the Williamette Valley. 

About 1 M acres have burned in Oregon, or 1,500 sq-miles. That's about 120% of Rhode Island's area, or 1.5% of Oregon. That last number really surprises me. Oregon is vast -- the 9th largest state in the country. 

There are reports of 7 dead and dozens missing. This story is utterly heartbreaking, and it's just from down where I just to live a year and a half ago.

Ordinary COVID masks don't keep smoke particles out, they say, only N-95 masks. I'm trying not to go anywhere -- the smell and taste of smoke in the air is really strong. After a few hours of it you get a headache and dry throat. My sister works in Oregon City, a suburb of Portland, and though her company gave her and N-95 mask yesterday she decided not to go there (she does home PT care). OC was only under Level 2, "Get Set" order, but she said many people were leaving anyway, and her colleagues who live there took several hours to get out and somewhere safe, like Gresham on the eastside of Portland, what would normally be an hour drive at worst. 

While there was very little humidity here Tuesday and Wednesday, it picked up and Thursday was 71% yesterday (relative humidity). It's supposed to stay high, and rain some Monday and Tuesday. That would be great. The smoke is also blocking the sun. The high here today was only 63; the normal high is 78. I had to turn my heat on for the first time this season. 

Trump approved emergency aid for Oregon yesterday, despite all the contretemps about the protesting and rioting in Portland. The governor said they had a good conversation.

Here is a really good article about Oregon in Slate by Oregon resident Rebecca Schuman, "There Are Two Oregons, and They’re Both on Fire."

I'm not doing anything to help, which I feel kind of guilty about.

That's enough.


Balázs said...

My useless observation from far away: this looks like doomsday movies. It's like some parts of the world are already getting uninhabitable. Or at least they change in a radical way. Actually, the movie metaphor is bad, in most movies sh.t comes unexpectedly or accidentally. In reality, this is coming slowly but surely exactly like scientists have been warning us for decades. Sorry for the moralizing. Hope for the best! B.

David in Cal said...

According to this chart, California has a long history of megadroughts. Take it for what it's worth


David Appell said...

Is the last little red piece natural, or caused by anthropogenic climate change?

David Appell said...

It's strange that we're suddenly seeing fires not just in California, but also in Colorado, Australia, Siberia and Brazil, isn't it, if it's all from natural droughts?

David Appell said...

"California and Colorado Fires May Be Part of a Climate-Driven Transformation of Wildfires Around the Globe," Inside Climate News 8/22/20.

Layzej said...

This may be good news for California if the finding holds up:

In most Mediterranean climate (MedClim) regions around the world, global climate models (GCMs) consistently project drier futures. In California, however, projections of changes in annual precipitation are inconsistent. Analysis of daily precipitation in 30 GCMs reveals patterns in projected hydrometeorology over each of the five MedClm regions globally and helps disentangle their causes. MedClim regions, except California, are expected to dry via decreased frequency of winter precipitation. Frequencies of extreme precipitation, however, are projected to increase over the two MedClim regions of the Northern Hemisphere where projected warming is strongest. The increase in heavy and extreme precipitation is particularly robust over California, where it is only partially offset by projected decreases in low-medium intensity precipitation.