Thursday, May 05, 2016

Wildfires 101

The latest news is of an airlift underway of monumental proportions.  CBC News  reports that the province will attempt to fly many, perhaps most of the 25,000 people now sheltering in tar sands work camps north of Fort McMurray to safety in Edmonton.

It's not remotely clear how the Alberta authorities hope to do that. The Fort McMurray airport is closed to departures and arrivals. Moving thousands of people requires fairly large aircraft and, in this case, an ability to operate out of small, unimproved strips. The Canadian military could - theoretically - use Hercules and C-17 transports if a suitable landing area existed.

The Fort Mac fire was big yesterday. It grew eight-fold overnight. Now it's huge, about the size of metro-Calgary. As the fires sweep into the more populated south, additional communities have to be evacuated.

High winds continue. Not surprising given that these major conflagrations generate powerful updrafts that generate ground winds. Also the fires have reached the point where the fire is causing its own lightning, never a good thing.

These fires can go on for weeks, months before they burn out. A torrential downpour would be nice but there's no significant rainfall in the forecast for the next two weeks at least.


Anonymous said...

What are the possibilities that the tarsands will catch fire and become an unstoppable , endless disaster?

tempusfugit said...

Or a tailing pond?