An Important Finding about the September Labor Day Wildfires

Reposted from the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Monday, November 23, 2020

One reason why research is so much fun is that once in a while you learn something important that is unexpected.  A new and highly significant finding. 

I had such a “wow” experience recently regarding the September wildfires that caused so much damage and smoke on the western slopes of the Cascades.

Currently, I have a research grant form the National Science Foundation, and smaller grants with the USDA Forest Service and WA DNR, to work on wildfire/weather issues. Recently, our group has completed three papers on the intersection of weather/climate with wildfires:  on the Wine Country Fires of 2017, the Camp Fire of 2019, and Diablo downslope winds of northern CA.

I was working on a paper on the meteorology of the great western Oregon/Washington wildfires, when the big Labor Day Oregon wildfire siege occurred.  So naturally my group turned to understand the event.

Why did this major event happen?  How did it evolve? Was something unusual going on?  How well was it forecast?  These and other questions were on the table.

We knew the strong easterly (from the east) winds during the event were critical for initiating and/or spreading the fires.  In fact, my initial work suggested that ALL major fires on the western slopes of the Oregon and Washington Cascades are associated with powerful easterly winds.

I asked research meteorologist David Ovens to take a look at the upper air weather observing sites in the region, locations where balloon-lifted weather stations (radiosondes) are launched twice a day to give us winds and other weather variables aloft.    

Of particular interest was the Salem, Oregon radiosonde data at the first standard elevation above the surface (925 hPa–around 800 meters above the surface).   This elevation is very relevant to winds observed over the nearby western slopes of the Oregon Cascades.

The record at Salem goes back 64 years to 1956, long enough to tell us a great deal about how unusual the situation was this September.  It did not take Dave long to send me a figure with the requested information and I had my wow moment.

Below is the figure.  Let me explain it.  

I asked him to only plot the 925 hPa (again about 800 m about sea level) winds and to limit the analysis to August and September, since those are the months of historical big fires on the western slopes of the Cascades.  Each observation during the 64 years during those months was plotted, with the associated wind direction indicated by the x-axis and the wind speed on the y-axis.   

You will notice two major peaks in strong winds during those late summer months:  (1) northerly to north-northeasterly and (2) south to southwesterly.    The northerly wind peak occurs when high pressure builds over the eastern Pacific and the southwesterly powerful winds occur when a strong trough or low-pressure system approaches the coast.    The southwesterly winds are the strongest (up to 51 knots!), but they are associated with clouds and rain, so little fire danger from them.

I asked Dave to identify the observations taken during the Oregon fire storm period with red dots— and that is when the wow moment came. Look at the red dot for September 8th at 1200 UTC–5 AM (2020-09-08 12z)—just when the fires were accelerating over western Oregon (indicated by red arrow).   
Just extraordinary.  The winds at that time were THE STRONGEST EVER OBSERVED  at the site  during those months for any wind direction from the north, east, southeast, or northwest.  The stronger the winds the greater the potential for rapid fire growth, and the greater the potential for fire ignition by failing electrical infrastructure and other causes.Importantly, these were the strongest winds by far from the east and thus downslope on the western slopes of the Oregon Cascades.   Downslope winds from the east are inevitably very dry and the air progressively became drier the longer they blow from that direction.
So why were the easterly winds so strong?
Our research identified the reason:   unusually cold air and accompanying high pressure moving to the east of the Cascades.  
The pressure analysis 5 AM Sept 8th is shown below, with a measure of the difference from normal shown by colors. High pressure was centered over Idaho and extended into eastern Oregon.   The colors indicate the pressure was VERY unusual–up to 4-5 standard deviations from the mean for that date.  To give you an idea of how unusual, if the deviation was 4.5, this would indicte an event that would occur once in 147,000 times.

The air was so cold that it brought record cold and snow to the Front Range of Colorado and environs.
So the whole situation is ironic and interesting:  record cold to the east brought record fires to the west.___________________________________

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Harold Cooley
November 24, 2020 6:38 am

I work at 6,000 feet on the southern face of Mount Hood. Winds during the Labor day event were sustained at 90mph for 10 hours, with peak gusts of over 120. The ski resort lost more than 1,000 trees, the historic lodge sustained multiple damages including 5,000 lbs of volcanic dirt in the pool, multiple areas of roof damage on various buildings and trees falling onto the haul ropes and comm lines of chair lifts.
100mph+ wind gusts are a fairly common occurrence here, but 10 hours of sustained 90mph was unbelievable.
PGE had shut power off as the storm moved in, it was a wise decision.

cliff mass
Reply to  Harold Cooley
November 24, 2020 9:50 pm

harold….can you send me an email… interested to learn more about the winds on Mt. Hood that day.,.,cliff mass

Steve Case
November 24, 2020 6:51 am

The air was so cold that it brought record cold and snow to the Front Range of Colorado and environs.

Uh huh, you really need to dig deeper:

The odds are that what we can expect as a result of global warming is to see more
of this pattern of extreme cold. – – – Dr. John Holdren, The White House – 1/8/2014

So you see, the Oregon wild fires WERE caused by global warming.

Reply to  Steve Case
November 24, 2020 7:22 am

War is peace. Slavery is freedom. Ignorance is strength …

When George Orwell wrote those words in the book 1984, he was depicting a totalitarian regime. When I did a web search to make sure I had the quote correct, there were a lot of hits explaining why that quote is actually a description of reality. Mien lieber Gott!

Somehow, after the collapse of the USSR, we’ve forgotten the horrors of Stalinism. The enduring lesson should have been that Marxism is evil and doesn’t work. Instead, it has been erased from our memories.

How is it that we remember the evils of Fascism but not those of Marxism?

Reply to  commieBob
November 24, 2020 8:20 am

A friend of mine showed me a book he was reading. I only know that one paragraph he pointed out. The author was one of Reagan’s advisers, cabinet members, or some such position closely associated with the Reagan presidency. This person’s last name started with a Z but that is all I remember of it. The book was written not long after, or perhaps even during the Regan presidency.

The bit of interest in this person’s explanation of his views on politics and culture was something close to this:
Marxism failed in the Soviet Union. We will ensure that it does not fail in the West.

Leo Smith
Reply to  commieBob
November 24, 2020 9:54 am

Fascism lost. Marxism won.

Reply to  commieBob
November 24, 2020 5:55 pm

It’s called TV. Research who runs it.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  commieBob
November 25, 2020 6:26 am

Is there no limit to the vacuousness? Ironically John Cook was basically right about the 97% consensus. The Soviet Union had fewer than 3% dissidents but of course there were the silent ones fearful under such a brutal regime.

I’m sure large numbers would accept the next glacial max as a CO2 warming event.

Reply to  Steve Case
November 24, 2020 7:26 am

Well yes Steve.
Because as we have been seeing now for these past 40 years or so –
anything & everything can be attributed to global warming.

Reply to  Steve Case
November 24, 2020 8:09 am

Steve; very plausible since most of the warming is supposed to happen were the cold air comes from. In other words the poles warm, the equator, not so much. But of course the sages like Dr. John Holdren would be able to explain this problem—have faith

Doug Danhoff
Reply to  alf
November 27, 2020 8:44 am

I have always doubted the good Doctor

Reply to  Steve Case
November 24, 2020 12:29 pm

‘So you see, the Oregon wild fires WERE caused by global warming.’

No its a global cooling signal and has to do with large blocking high pressure. Its of a universal nature, the Australian bushfires endured the same phenomenon with a large blocking high centred off the Queensland coast.

This blocking is caused by wayward jet streams in both hemispheres, which has come about through a quiet sun shrinking the earth’s atmosphere.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Steve Case
November 25, 2020 6:15 am

Steve, you should put a sarc tag on your post. You’ll be getting flooded with calls from Brooklyn bridge salesmen.

Jeff in Calgary
November 24, 2020 7:09 am

In Calgary here, we get those dry winds coming over the mountains, but blowing the other direction (from the Pacific). We don’t tend to get wildfires though because we have few trees.

Old Gobi Jumper
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 24, 2020 7:49 am

As I read several prior articles about recent fires I was surprised that there were no mention of the only factor that really matters–WIND. No matter the fuel load, moisture, climate change, fire breaks, etc. if there is no wind, we can control and extinguish it. In high winds over 40 mph we have no control and must go to evacuation, protection of structures mode. Why is this ignored by most discusssion of wild fire?

Reply to  Old Gobi Jumper
November 24, 2020 6:40 pm

In Paul Driessen’s “Preventing Future Forest Infernos” post here on 11/22/20, he links to a Wired magazine article by Daniel Duane, “The Fires Next Time.” That article discusses winds extensively, although the emphasis is on fire-induced weather and huge convective columns. Many of the massive fires in California over the last three years have been abetted by violent winds created by the fire itself.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
November 25, 2020 1:24 pm

Calgary experiences a Foehn wind, popularly called Chinook.

Air blown from the west has lost its moisture against the mountains to the west, then heats as it descends into higher pressure (adiabatic warming).

The phenomenon also occurs in the area of Dawson Creek BC and in places in Colorado.

The rate of change of temperature is amazing, I’ve lived through it (and understand it is even faster in some locations). One day doing inventory before I rushed off to school a few blocks away I saw an elementary school student without a jacket, then after school saw him rushing home shivering.

The melting of snow surface changes some things, out on the farm it ruined ice rinks people had made outdoors.

Calgary is also subject to cold winds from the north, sweeping over the central plains (‘prairies’ in Canadian parlance). Winds from the west scrub across many mountain ranges before reaching the Rockies west of Calgary.

– ‘Chinook’ came from a different kind of wind that occurs in territory of the Chinook tribal people near the mouth of the Columbia River, mis-used by early explorers.
– The weather station at Alert in far northwest Canada is subject to a small Foehn affect, so be careful with temperature data from it. (Siting of it centuries ago was determined in substantial part by accessibility from the ocean and geography giving a harbour.)

Many interesting things in the world, Chinook winds are one thing.

November 24, 2020 7:33 am

Super interesting. I’d change only one thing: THE COLORS ON THE PRESSURE MAP.

Call me paranoid, OCD, or both, but any map explaining the fires as you so well did best not have red to indicate said cause. I can just see Dunning and Kruger using it in a post on their Chicken Little blog. 2 cents.

Peta of Newark
November 24, 2020 7:45 am

Just me as usual pi553d off with necessary hyperbole

Why, not explained in the story, was the discovery *highly important*

Why important *and* why highly

So it was a windy day.
So. What.

I know I know I know but puhleeze, don’t let the constant excited over-exaggeration of the warmists get to you.
Stay cool. Chill

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 24, 2020 10:40 am

Peta, to understand the criticality of wind wrt wildfires, see the explanatory comment –
Old Gobi Jumper November 24, 2020 at 7:49 am

Gord in Calgary
November 24, 2020 7:46 am

“Very clever young man, but it’s climate change all the way down”!

In fact, my initial work suggested that ALL major fires on the western slopes of the Oregon and Washington Cascades are associated with powerful easterly winds.

Old Gobi Jumper
November 24, 2020 7:51 am

As I read several prior articles about recent fires I was surprised that there were no mention of the only factor that really matters–WIND. No matter the fuel load, moisture, climate change, fire breaks, etc. if there is no wind, we can control and extinguish it. In high winds over 40 mph we have no control and must go to evacuation, protection of structures mode. Why is this ignored by most discusssion of wild fire?

Coach Springer
November 24, 2020 8:30 am

Wind is a component of weather. Weather affects the land. Anything beyond that is speculative and subject to subsequent changes in actual conditions and changes in speculation.

Moving along.

Reply to  Coach Springer
November 24, 2020 8:50 am

And don’t forget wild fires correlate highly with presence of trees, Coach…../s

Peter W
November 24, 2020 8:35 am

On DVD I have an interesting lecture about findings from ice cores taken from both Greenland and Antarctica. They very clearly show that stormy weather (i.e. windy weather) increased as the earth grew colder. Any good meteorologist can explain why. So what the above data clearly tells me is that the earth is growing colder, not warmer! In other words, all this global warming is a bunch of stupid BS!

However, I had all of that figured out over 10 years ago, after studying both the science and history of climate change.

Reply to  Peter W
November 24, 2020 8:41 am

There are more storms affecting the UK because the WARMER atmosphere holds more energy (and more moisture)

Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 9:09 am

Griff says global heating causes the atmosphere to hold more moisture and more storms, presumably rainstorms. Remember that, all you “global heating causes drought” folks…

Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 9:58 am

Ignorant comment, griff. Wind energy comes from air pressure DIFFERENCES. No difference in the air pressure from place to place means that there will be no wind. That’s why a stagnant high pressure system is associated with calm, hot conditions. You must be a sado-masochist to want to be proven to be a fool over and over.

Reply to  Meab
November 24, 2020 1:35 pm

And don’t forget temperature contrasts. The greater the contrast in temps between poles and equator the the higher the probability for violent storms in the temperate zones.

Reply to  rah
November 24, 2020 2:34 pm

Fortunately, the temperature contrast between the poles and tropics is declining. The slight warming that we have seen in the past century (~1 deg C per hundred years) is faster in the Arctic than the tropics, decreasing the temperature delta, thus decreasing the energy source for violent storms not just in the temperate zones but worldwide. That’s a major reason why the global Accumulated Cyclone energy has been slightly declining and the Major Hurricane frequency has dropped in the last 30 years.

Reply to  rah
November 24, 2020 6:36 pm

Yeah, increased levels of water vapor.
Water vapor that already swamps the few CO₂ infrared absorption bands.

That is known as delusional circular reasoning; where one attributes effects to systems already existing.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 9:58 am

“the WARMER atmosphere”

Warmer than what?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 10:30 am

You are just making up stuff as we go along in time with observations of weather events. Effectively claiming any observed result is thus the result of your climate change religion. Science proceeds by making predictive hypotheses and testing them against observation. Religion works on faith that all we observe is some divine intervention, in climate religion this is the evil CO2 molecule, but only human produced CO2 molecules are evil.

The IPCC AR5 made no such predictions/projections about direction of Extratropical cyclone intensities, citing low confidence due to so many projections by different authors being effectively all over the map, so to speak.

AR5 Chapter 14 on Extra-tropical Cyclones (ETCs):

“One of the most important factors is the change in the meridional temperature gradient from which ETCs draw most of their energy. This gradient is projected to increase in the upper troposphere due to tropical amplification and decrease in the lower troposphere due to polar amplification, and it is still unclear whether this will lead to an overall increase or decrease in ETC activity. The projected response can involve an increase in eddy activity at upper levels and a decrease at lower levels (Hernandez-Deckers and von Storch, 2010), although in other models changes in low level eddy activity are more in line with the upper level wind changes (Mizuta et al., 2011; Wu et al., 2011; Mizuta, 2012). The projected warming pattern also changes vertical temperature gradients leading to increased stability at low latitudes and decreased stability at higher latitudes, and there is some modelling evidence that this may be a strong factor in the response (Lu et al., 2008, 2010; Kodama and Iwasaki, 2009; Lim and Simmonds, 2009). Increasing depth of the troposphere might also be important for future changes (Lorenz and DeWeaver, 2007).”

“The projected increase in moisture content in a warmer atmosphere is also likely to have competing effects. Latent heating has been shown to play a role in invigorating individual ETCs, especially in the down- stream development over eastern ocean (Dacre and Gray, 2009; Fink et al., 2009, 2012). However, there is evidence that the overall effect of moistening is to weaken ETCs by improving the efficiency of poleward heat transport and hence reducing the dry baroclinicity (Frierson et al., 2007; O’Gorman and Schneider, 2008; Schneider et al., 2010; Lucarini and Ragone, 2011). Consistent with this, studies have shown that pre- cipitation is projected to increase in ETCs despite no increase in wind speed intensity of ETCs (Bengtsson et al., 2009; Zappa et al., 2013b).”

“There is general agreement that there will be a small global reduction in ETC numbers (Ulbrich et al., 2009). In individual regions there can be much larger changes which are comparable to natural variations, but these changes are not reproduced by the majority of the models (e.g., Donat et al., 2011). ETC intensities are particularly sensitive to the method and quantity used to define them, so there is little consensus on changes in intensity (Ulbrich et al., 2009). While there are indica- tions that the absolute values of pressure minima deepen in future scenario simulations (Lambert and Fyfe, 2006), this is often associated with large-scale pressure changes rather than changes in the pres- sure gradients or winds associated with ETCs (Bengtsson et al., 2009; Ulbrich et al., 2009; McDonald, 2011). The CMIP5 model projections show little evidence of change in the intensity of winds associated with ETCs (Zappa et al., 2013b).
(on the PDO/IPO projections, AR5 WG1 Chap 14, says this on page 1253:)
However, given that the models strongly underestimate the PDO/IPO connection with tropical Indo-Pacific SST variations (Furtado et al., 2011; Lienert et al., 2011), the credibility of the projections remains uncertain. Further- more, internal variability is so high that it is hard to detect any forced changes in the Aleutian Low for the next half a century (Deser et al., 2012; Oshima et al., 2012). Therefore confidence is low in projections of future changes in PDO/IPO.”

source: AR5WG1, Chapter 14, pages1251, 1252,1253

Again, just claiming that every observed change is a result of anthropogenic Climate Change is not science, it is a religion of faith. Climate event attribution has become pseudoscience junk, very much like believers make about claims of intelligent design on biological evolution.

Peter W
Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 11:09 am

Griff, thank you very much for once again demonstrating your complete lack of knowledge of science.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 11:18 am

Griff, accumulated cyclone energy has consistently decreased since last century.
It was higher during the 50-70s cold period

Cold period means more storms

Data doesn’t lie, only activists lie

Richard Patton
Reply to  griff
November 24, 2020 8:01 pm

Obviously, you are ignorant of the simplest meteorological fact, weather is driven by temperature differences, no temperature gradient-bla weather (it might be cold or hot but nothing much is happening). You must be a masochist Griff to keep coming here and having your ignorance exposed again and again.

Hoyt Clagwell
November 24, 2020 8:53 am

How can we rely on wind power to save us from global warming if global warming is making wind worse?

Reply to  Hoyt Clagwell
November 24, 2020 10:00 am

Blowing out of range, causing blackouts, brownouts, and frequency irregularities.. That, the blight factor, and the excused, obfuscated environmental hazards. Save a bird, a bat, whack a wind turbine.

Pat from kerbob
November 24, 2020 11:15 am

On the southern canadian prairies we had the nicest august and September in a long time

Except for Labor Day where a system crashed down and the low that night was -5c in SW Saskatchewan

Then jumped back up and stayed above freezing until October

Anomalous cold event

November 24, 2020 11:58 am

Katabatic winds should be mentioned in this article. We (in Australia) had some in my area. Astonishing. Raging fire at 1:00 am. Discussion in

November 24, 2020 12:05 pm

Amazing what one can learn from WUWT; I never knew that planet earth was formed in 1956 !!
After all, that is when record keeping was initiated, so what happened before that either never happened or there was never a “before” prior to 1956.
Imagine today’s climate “science” existed within the last 75 years of the Medieval Warm Period and the scientists then claimed, that earth was in a permanent state of warmth.
And how wrong they would be.
Frankly, I do not understand at all how anybody can claim that the past 75 years of climate history can be used to predict what will happen or that it constitutes what is “normal,” given the climate variations over the last several million years.

November 24, 2020 2:19 pm

Winds or no winds, when fires are suppressed for decades and the deadfall burden and thus the fuel load is allowed to increase year after year, there are going to be catastrophic fires and the winds only add to the already dangerous conditions.

It’s mans fault, but not because of so called “climate change”, but because they worked against the natural cycle and instead of with it by trying to stop that natural cycle instead of allowing it to occur in a controllable manner. The same arrogance and greed that fostered the policies that resulted in allowing the fuel load to grow to epic proportions by stopping fires, is what also lies at the heart of those driving the “climate change” agenda.

McComber Boy
Reply to  rah
November 24, 2020 4:16 pm


If your supposition is correct, how is it the most catastophic wildfires in our history happened before 1900? Was it the fire bombers? the fire trucks? the smoke jumpers? the lookout towers? Stop repeating nonsense. Would thinning help? Yes. Would some burning help? Yes. But look at John Tyler’s comment above. Did wildfires start happening in 1956? or 1972? or 2000? Look at history for once. Nearly the whole Upper Michigan penninsula burned simultaneously with the Great Chicago Fire and the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin. The largest wildfire in United States history was the Great Fire of 1910 in Washington, Idaho and Montana. 3 million acres burned in two days. Nothing to do with fire supression, everything to do with fuel load and weather conditions.

Reply to  McComber Boy
November 24, 2020 6:13 pm

The huge wild fire of 1910 does not refute my claim. It just happened that for a considerable time a natural or man made fire was not set and that fire also occurred during high winds.

Tell me, why has there not been a repeat of the great fires of 1871 in Wisconsin McComber Boy?

Why have not massive wild fires struck Kings canyon or the Sequoia National forest since they stated control burns McComber Boy?

November 24, 2020 2:48 pm

This was my first reaction during the wildfire event: unusually strong Canadian high pressure due to unusually deep, cold airmass. Canadian cold made the wildfires much worse. It was obvious at the time. Interesting that the 925 mb wind was such an outlier, though.

Mike Dubrasich
November 24, 2020 3:19 pm

…the potential for fire ignition by failing electrical infrastructure…

Failing electrical infrastructure, i.e. downed powerlines, is a red herring. Of the 950,000 acres that burned in western Oregon in September, less than 20,000 acres were due to powerlines falling. The rest were arson, directly and indirectly.

Although the Authorities will not admit it, arson is the likely cause for the Holiday Farm Fire (173,392 acs), Riverside Fire (140,086 acs), Archie Creek Fire (131,595 acs) and a number of smaller fires from Lincoln City to Medford. The arson was likely politically motivated — deliberate arson by Antifa agents who had set dozens of fires in and around Portland in the weeks prior.

Only two of the major fires were ignited by lightning, the Beachie Creek Fire (193,565 acs) and Lionshead Fire (204,587 acs). However, the lightning strikes were in mid-August. Those two fires were Let It Burn fires, allowed by Federal fire generals to burn and grow without fire suppression until winds arose in September, at which time they exploded into megafires. The decisions to withhold fire suppression were tantamount to arson.

In the case of the Beachie Creek Fire, a few burned acres west of the town of Lyons might be attributed to downed powerlines, although the fire raged through that town from its Let It Burn source (above Beachie Creek in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area) 20 miles to the east before or concurrently with powerline failures. The fires did not expand eastward from Lyons against the wind.

All of the fires arose and expanded through unkempt, overstocked, unmanaged Federal land where fuel treatments had been banned for 30+ years and access roads purposely ripped up and closed. This despite ample warnings that fires could not be controlled in under such conditions and despite many large fires in prior years that proved the warnings were real. The decisions to abandon stewardship of those forests were also tantamount to arson.

The rush to blame powerlines for the fires are feeble and contemptible attempts to hide the true causes by those ultimately responsible.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
November 25, 2020 1:40 pm

Thanks for the info … BUT “The decisions to withhold fire suppression were tantamount to arson.” is OtT.

Letting fires burn is done where risk to people is low, albeit it burns valuable timber. One case was west of Quesnel BC during the last summer of bad forest fires in BC. But there is risk, including from controlled burns – one did not go well in the Caribou area of BC in that bad season

Weather makes a difference, forest fires in BC are apparently worst early in summer. Lightning is a frequent cause some years.

Owners of structures should protect them. I saw an amazing difference driving through Barriere BC after the bad fire season of 2003. A burned down house next to an untouched one. It is increasingly recognized that cleaning gutters of pine needles is essential, otherwise an ember turns them into a torch to light the roof on fire. Clearing shrubbery from around the building is a very good idea as well, but some ecofreaks motivate politicians to forbid that.

(The Caribou and Okanagan areas of BC are especially dry and have much pine, some of it dried out after being killed by pine beetles.

Some trees can withstand fire if not too hot, good to keep fuel on the forest floor low. Pine is one, Garry Oak another (colloquially called Oregon White Oak or similar names south of the 49th parallel). Centuries ago tribal people on the wet coast felled trees with fire to create meadows to grow more food such as Camas lilly, then periodically burned the meadows to suppress competing species and kill insects.)

Reply to  Keith Sketchley
November 25, 2020 2:44 pm

One problem is not enough resources on standby.

Standby costs money of course, but so do losses – and people are lost sometimes.

BC has a poor history of resourcing, with political fights between types of resource. The BC government was utterly incompetent in comparing the Mighty Mars with the Air Tractor on floats, couldn’t even get speeds right despite the difference with and without floats being clearly identified on the web site of the provider of services with it. And while the gummint made much of the comparison with the Mars it didn’t really matter – all three are slow compared to the CV580 and Electra, and turbofan airplanes, which are roughly the same speed at other than cruise altitudes. (350 knots for Electra and 737)

Various sizes and types of aircraft have their uses, the biggies are good for penetrating canopy and narrow canyons like the Sooke Potholes, and laying down a line of fluid to help contain a fire. Even the CV580 can do 8 individual drops, some tank systems may be able to dispense continuously (the 747 perhaps from its big rear pipe, maybe Coulson’s C-130 system). Small aircraft can be positioned closer to possible needs, helos almost anywhere with stable landing pad and clearway for initial climb, the Air Tractor on fields, the Air Tractor on floats in small lakes which it can scoop water from.

Lightning strike detection is much better today. I know someone who lives west of Quesnel, who saw lightning start a fire across the road. Fortunately before long a small helicopter with water bucket showed up and doused it.

Reply to  Mike Dubrasich
November 25, 2020 3:05 pm

Some arsonists were arrested in OR.

There’s also a photo of a woman with a gun pointed at an arsonist in OR, waiting for police to arrive. Don’t mess with hill folk. 😉

Smart Rock
November 24, 2020 4:17 pm

If all the trees are cut down to provide “biomass” for “renewable” “carbon-free” wood-burning power stations, e.g. DRAX, there won’t be any more forest fires. Of course there won’t be any forests either, but hey, Saving The Planet means that the planet needs to make a few minor sacrifices.

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