Smoky Sunshine…and Moonshine

Bill's Blog

The pic. above was just before sunset at South Haven. The sun looks a dim yellow and it faded into the smoke layer before it reached the water. If you look close, you can see the reflected ripples on the water are a red color (different from the color of the sun). The smoke layer is around 2 miles above the surface, so it doesn’t smell smoky at ground level.

Orange Moon – pic. from Andrea Martin

Overnight, a 3/4-full moon looked yellow-orange and dimmer stars were not visible through the smoke layer.

Lake Michigan satellite picture Monday PM 7 19 21

Here’s the Lake Michigan satellite picture from Monday PM. You can see the lake through the smoke. There’s also a few fair-weather cumulus clouds in NE Illinois, but no clouds over most of the city of Chicago, where the easterly lake-breeze brings cooler, more stable air to the immediate lakeshore.

As of Friday AM, wildfire activity continues in 13 states where 80 large fires have burned 1,174,486 acres. More than 19,600 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents. To date, 35,086 wildfires have burned 2,537,744 acres in the United States.

Statistics for 2020: In Michigan last year there were 409 wildfires, most of them quite small. 401 were started by humans and 8 were started by lightning. There were 1,131 acres burned, only 10 acres from the lightning fires.

Firefighters monitor the Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, as it burns at Frenchman Lake in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

In California, there were 10,431 wildfires in 2020. A total of 9,868 of those fires (94.6%) were started by humans and 563 were started by lightning. A total of 4,092,151 acres were burned in CA, 2,365,932 (58%) from human-caused fires and 1,726,218 (42%) from the lightning-caused fires (42%). For a comparison, Kent Co. has 558,080 acres, so the total area that burned in CA last year was approx. 7.3 times the size of Kent Co.

In August a series of lightning strikes started hundreds of fires across Northern California. Dubbed the August Complex Fire, they were the largest fires in California’s history, together burning 1.03 million acres in seven counties and continuing into November.

Last year in the U.S. there were 58,950 wildfires – the 3rd lowest total since 1994. However, those fires burned 10,122,336 acres, the 2nd highest number of acres since 1994.

As many as 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, downed power lines, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or (a very few from) lava.

Beach Hazards Graphic – Small Craft Advisories

We have a Beach Hazards Statement and Small Craft Advisories for Lake Michigan for waves increasing to 2-4 feet and winds to 15-25 mph. Don’t swim near or jump off the piers and breakwalls on windy days. There is also a small chance of a thunderstorm east of US 131 this afternoon.

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