Oh, those clever Chinese climate hoaxsters. They're at it again. They've cooked up the first named storm of this hurricane season and, although Storm Andrea fell apart, this is the fifth year in a row that the hoaxsters have beaten the official start date of hurricane season, which used to be June 1, and that includes Alex which formed in freaking January of 2016. (A hurricane in January should've tipped us all off that 2016 was going to be a weird-ass year.) But, worse, northern Alberta is burning down. From the CBC:
"The fire is jumping from crown to crown of trees," Kenney said at a news conference Tuesday. "Unfortunately, the dry conditions in northern Alberta are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, with the fire danger possibly increasing this week." The fire near the town of High Level is ranked as a Level 6, the top of the wildfire intensity scale. Increased fire danger is common during the spring because of the abundance of dry, flammable materials in the period between the snow melt and the green-up of the landscape. "Wildfire season is a long and tough battle every year, and we need to prepare for the long haul this summer," Kenney said.
The number of fires currently burning across the province is slightly higher than the five-year average, Kenney said. There have been 430 wildfires in Alberta since March 1, of which 30 are still active and five are classed as out of control. The High Level wildfire is being fought from the air, because it's not safe to have people on the ground attacking the fire, Bruce Mayer, assistant deputy minister for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, said at Tuesday's news conference. "We will not put any people in front of the head; it's simply too dangerous," Mayer said.
In addition, it seems that Canadians are beginning to come to grips with what is now a new normal every springtime. Again, the CBC:
Mike Flannigan, a professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, is warning that a dramatic rise in temperature and a changing climate have pushed things over the edge and will continue to cause unprecedented wildfires. "We can't always rely on our experience and the history of what we've seen in fire; we're moving into new territory," he told CBC Radio's special Smoked Out. An average of about 2.5 million hectares of land is charred every year during Canada's annual wildfire season, he says.
"That's half the size of Nova Scotia, and it's doubled since the early '70s due to our changing climate," said Flannigan, who's also the director of the Western Partnership for Wildland Fire Science in Edmonton...Canada is, on average, experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, according to Canada's Changing Climate Report. The study, commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada and released last month, found that Canada's annual average temperature over land has warmed 1.7 C since 1948 - with higher rates seen in the North, the Prairies and northern B.C.
The calculations are not complex. One thing leads to another, which leads to another.
Changing weather patterns have led to more lightning that can spark fires - increasing strikes by 10 to 12 per cent for every degree the temperature rises - Flannigan explains, along with dry, windy conditions that fan flames and allow them to easily take hold. Amid a string of bone-dry summers, the atmosphere also gets better at sucking the moisture out of plants and dead wood, which act as fire accelerants.
Nor is this isolated to the great northwoods of Canada. You see, the wind blows. No, honest, it does. And when there is a fire, the smoke and ash rides the wind. And when there is a really big fire, there is a lot more smoke and ash.
Meanwhile, Canada's long-term warming trend presents worrying signs for the upcoming wildfire season and the impact it will have on public health, Flannigan warns. "We're going to see a lot more fire in the landscape, which means a lot more smoke." Wildfires are no longer a "rural problem," he contends, pointing out that smoke is wafting across large swaths of land and impacting air quality in urban centres such as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and New York City.
Those clever hoaxsters. They never miss a trick.
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