The satellite pic. above from Friday shows a smoke layer over NW Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and northern South Dakota. The smoke is from western wildfires in the U.S. and Canada. The layer is about 1.5 miles above the ground. For the most part, the smoke remains aloft, but on occasion, the air mixes and brings a smoky smell to ground level.
Smoke in the air can make the sunset look a different color…from dull white to a yellow-orange or red. Sometimes, as in this pic., you can see the variation of thicker and thinner layers. Here’s a comparison of the number of wildfires and acres burned in the U.S. this year compared to the last 10 years. This data is from the National Interagency Fire Agency:
The graph shows that (despite the media hype) that nationwide, this has not been an unusual year for wildfires. The number of wildfires in the U.S. this year is below the 10-year average and the number of acres burned is 5th highest in 11 years.
While pretty much every major fire seems to be blamed on “climate change”, the Insurance Information Institute reminds us that “90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.”
Many of the worse wildfires this summer have been in California, where lightning is very rare for much of the year. The worst California wildfire this summer has been near Redding CA. Redding has not had a drop of rain since June 16 and has not had measurable rain since May 26th. The last time they saw lightning was May 19. Regardless of whether the temperature goes up or down a couple degrees or the humidity goes down or way down (it’s pretty much a desert), the fire would not be there if it wasn’t for human beings. The population of California has about doubled in the last 40 years. There are more people living in harms way then in decades past.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s video of the fire tornado that occurred near Redding on 7/26. It has been estimated that the wind in this fire tornado could have reached 165 mph. If it did, it would be stronger than any tornado caused by a thunderstorm in California history. This fire supposedly started on 7/23. You can see updated statistics on the Carr Fire at the link here. As I write this…the fire is 77% contained. There are 185 fire engines, 3,313 firefighters and 13 helicopters fighting the fire.