Climate & Extreme Weather News #32 (June 6th to June 8th 2017)
Deadly heatwaves in India worse still ahead
8 June, 2017
Eight people are dead and 10,000 have fled their homes as an enormous fire sweeps through the town of Knysna, South Africa.
Numerous homes have been gutted by the blaze that started on Tuesday and grew rapidly when a storm passed over the Western Cape town.
Western Cape local government spokesman James-Brent Styan confirmed in a statement that up to 10,000 evacuations had taken place in the town of 77,000 residents.
“The fire in Knysna is the largest and most destructive fire in a built-up area in the Western Cape in recent memory with thousands displaced. It comes on the back of the worst storm seen in the Western Cape in at least 30 years‚” Styan said.
That sentiment was echoed by the town’s mayor‚ Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who told Herald Live: “These are the worst fires I have seen in the 45 years I’ve lived in Knysna.”
Eight people were killed by the blaze, according to Reuters. Knysna fire chief Clinton Manual said there was little hope of stopping the fire and officials would continue evacuating all those in its path.
“The fire began on the one side but is now spreading to the other side of the town and the hospital is on fire. Basically the whole town is burning‚” journalist Ivo Vegter said to Times Live.
City of Cape Town Disaster Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said more than 800 families were homeless on Wednesday due to the storm.
Knysna looks like a warzone this morning. Some rain has started to fall, though.
Reuters reports that thousands of people in shanty towns, who endured the region's worst drought in a century, are hardest hit by the blaze, as floods and heavy rain washed away homes built of planks and zinc sheets.
Deadly heatwaves in India worse still ahead
To residents of the Northeast United States, this has been the year without spring. The high temperature in Boston on June 7, for example, was a record-tying 52 degrees, as rain and fog swept in off the stubbornly chilly Atlantic waters.
Now, though, Bostonians, along with tens of millions of Americans all the way west to the High Plains, are about to experience the first truly brutal heat wave of the season.
By June 11, the high temperature in Boston is likely to be about 40 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it was just a few days before. The same can be said for New York City, where people adorned with winter hats were spotted on the mist-shrouded streets on June 7.
Congo-Angola region on fire
From drought to heavy storm: At least 8 killed as heavy winds and rain lash Cape Town
Middle East and Southwest Asia heat wave
|Figure 1. Screen shot of the Pakistan Meteorological Department's web page on May 28, 2017, showing that the all-time Pakistan heat record of 53.5°C (128.3°F) had been tied that day.|
European heat wave
Vietnamese heat wave
NASA on Greenland's Thinning Ice (June 2017)
Firefighters are leap frogging from one fire to another to protect villages, cabins and other structures in Southwest Alaska after more than a dozen new wildfires were started by lightning strikes in the past three days.
The Alaska Division of Forestry reports that as of Wednesday morning there are 15 active fires burning in the area, which covers an 88-million acre swath of Southwest Alaska from McGrath to Dillingham. Six of the 15 fires are staffed with firefighters while the remainder are being monitored.
The meltdown, following an extra warm Arctic winter, will have an impact on coastal communities and permafrost.
The Arctic's record-warm winter has allowed thousands of square miles of sea ice off Alaska to melt more than a month early, leaving the shoreline vulnerable to waves and exposing dark ocean water to absorb more heat from the sun.
The loss of ice in the Chukchi Sea will boost the regional temperature and could increase precipitation over nearby land, said Alaska-based climate scientist Rick Thoman.
As of May 24, the ice cover on the Chukchi Sea had melted away from the shore along a 300 mile stretch, from Point Hope all the way to Barrow, the northernmost town in the United States. Satellite and radar data show the ice-free area totaled about 54,000 square miles.
Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed
Another week on paradise! Thousands and thousands of dead fish seals, sea lions, dolphins, pelicans and lobsters: Business as usual on planet Earth
Here's why the Endangered Species Act can't save these trees.
The whitebark pine faces intertwined threats that have killed the trees across much of their historic range. In 1910, Gifford Pinchot imported white pine blister rust, a fast-moving European fungal disease that kills whitebarks, to the West in a tree shipment.
Earthquake hits near North Pole
An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 on the Richter scale hit the Greenland Sea, in between Greenland and Svalbard, on June 9, 2017 at 20:49:52 UTC at 79.931°N, 0.605°E and at 18.4 km depth.
Snow is in the forecast for the start of June's second full week across the higher elevations of the mountain West, as an unseasonably cold air mass infiltrates the northwestern United States.
The cold air has moved in with a strong southward dip in the jet stream, or upper-level trough, that is sweeping into the Northwest this weekend as a result of a weather pattern flip.
This system will then win g across the northern Rockies through Tuesday, bringing periods of rain and a few thunderstorms to much of the region and snow to some of the higher elevations. Gusty winds are also expected across much of the West at times, into early week.
Temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees colder than average to begin this week, which means it may be cold enough for slushy accumulations of snow in portions of the Sierra Nevada and northern Rockies, especially at night. Many valley locations won't see highs climb out of the 50s Sunday and Monday.
Jason Box is interviewed
Ice sheets are turning black from coal-fired industrial pollution and fires. This has terrible consequences for us all.