Northwest BC Fire Smoke will keep temperatures below forecast. See Imagery and a note on Fire Climate.

So if you watched my live facebook or twitter feed this morning you’d already know that above the fog… which is still pretty prominent this morning. There is a thick layer of smoke. I’m tagging this post climate change because… well… ya, more on that at the end of the post.

I thought yesterday that the smoke might have been due to the Arbutus ridge fire, but I see now that that is incorrect. Check out the next three satellite images.


August 11 (UTC), 2018 Terra Satellite

On Friday afternoon (UTC) you can see the smoke from the fires in northwest BC streaming eastward into Alberta.

Aug 12 (UTC), 2018

The next day as the low approached the coast you can see the smoke spread into the Interior in amongst the clouds of the front.

Aug 13 (UTC)

And then Sunday as the low exited the province, you can see the smoke from the fires has curled back around and is flowing out of the Valley’s and quick far out to sea, including over the Island.

You can actually see it even better on the water vapour imagery from UWash below: (animation here). 

UWash Water Vapour image Aug 13 2018 8AM

The wind pattern is drawing moisture up into Alaska at the top right of the image and then it is curling back around from Alberta through BC and out over Vancouver Island. That is the pattern delivering the smoke onto the Coast.

This all means that we will not have clear sunny skies, and so we will not get up to our forecast 30ºC or more highs.  It’s hard to say how long this smoke will take to move out.  We’ll just have to take it day by day.

As for our local fires.  First. THANK YOU TO OUR LOCAL FIREFIGHTERS. Without them this weekend we would have likely had some very different outcomes as BC Wildfire service was at it its limits.

The latest updates this morning are that the Taylor River, Arbutus and Beaufort fires are all being held pretty well and hopefully crews will be able to call them contained and no longer a threat pretty soon.  Crews were doing back burns yesterday on the Arbutus fire, so that is why there was a little more smoke from it in the afternoon but it sure did look better last night!  I could only see a few little hotspots. Nothing like Friday night!

Stay safe out there.  And please heed this message from the City and BC Wildfire Service:

Finally, I marked this under climate change today because there is no doubt whatsoever that the increased fire activity we are seeing in the province and around the world is a direct result of climate change.

We have changed the climate, and that is causing longer dry spells, more extreme fire behaviour and very widespread smoke from fires which itself impacts local weather.

The Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions reports:

Research shows that changes in climate, especially earlier snowmelt due to warming in the spring and summer, have led to hot, dry conditions that boost this increase in fire activity in some areas. For much of the U.S. West, projections show that an average annual 1 degree Celsius temperature increase would increase the median burned area per year as much as 600 percent in some types of forests.

Although land use and firefighting tactics can play a role in lowering or raising risks, observed and anticipated changes in climate are expected to continue to increase the area affected by wildfires in the United States.
Wildfire risk depends on a number of factors, including temperature, soil moisture, and the presence of trees, shrubs, and other potential fuel. All these factors have strong direct or indirect ties to climate variability and climate change.

Once a fire starts – more than 80 percent of U.S. wildfires are caused by people – warmer temperatures and drier conditions can help them spread and make them harder to put out. Warmer, drier conditions also contribute to the spread of the mountain pine beetle and other insects that can weaken or kill trees, building up the fuels in a forest.

August 13, 2018

In government circles, it’s referred to as “the new normal”. And that normal is unpredictable and unknown.

We need to get a handle on our CO2 emissions and get them down to zero ASAP. Otherwise, we may quickly find ourselves in a world where there will never be a clear, blue sky sunny day in July and August.

About The Author