2021 US West drought and wildfire thread

Some people have been thinking about that…

I don’t think that is accurate.

The U.S. West has a massive amount of water; more than enough to supply residences and businesses. The problem is agriculture. For example the majority of the world’s almonds are grown in California and it takes 1900 gallons of water to grow a pound of almonds. The solution is for U.S. Western agriculture to switch to crops and livestock which require much less water. Farmers in the West get water for close to nothing; there is no way they could pay the costs for water from an Interstate water system.

It would be the Los Angeles strategy all over again. This is a dumb idea.

Smoke from fires in the west are now blotting out the sun in the east:

Yeah, I feel a little selfish about how happy I’ve been about our consistent onshore flow so far this season. It is shrouding our neighbors to the east, but allowing me to breathe free and easy on the coast. It’s very much a zero sum game in that sense. But it will likely change in the next month or so as offshore waters get warmer.

Another selfish conundrum - the wind is responsible for accelerating fire spread. But onshore flow has also allowed the coast to avoid the bulk of the heatwaves that have baked interior CA. Even facilitated a little light fog/mist/drizzle here and there.

Yes - I got an air quality warning from my weather app today because the fires in the West have spread particulate matter alll the way over here to central NC.

Here’s a quick read about working on the front line of the Bootleg fire.

I found this part interesting:

During the day, Kelly explains, the intense heat from the fire lifts plumes of smoke 40,000 feet in the air—causing an atmospheric vacuum that sucks in surrounding air, creating gusts that feed fresh oxygen to the fire. At night, the rapid cooling causes the column of smoke to collapse in on itself, generating 50-mile-an-hour winds that push the fire outward, causing rapid expansion.

Lake Oroville is sitting at about 655 feet; the norm is about 900 feet. The record low was set in 1977 at 643 feet and the lake is expected to drop below that soon. Officials are already planning on halting power generation in August sometime in the next 7-38 days.

3 minute video:

Lake Oroville was basically at a full pool (900 feet) exactly two years ago.

Frankly they seem to be irresponsible for letting this much water be removed in just two years, as droughts can last longer than two years.

That’s not really the way it works. A reservoir is sometimes compared to a bank, just for water instead of money. But money doesn’t evaporate away just from sitting in one spot. Water is sort of a use it or lose it deal.

Lake Oroville is probably roughly similar to Lake Tahoe in evaporation.

Measurements of evaporation rates at the lake indicate that 36 inches of water evaporate from the lake annually ,

This is three feet or 6 six feet in two years which is a small fraction of the 250 feet decline in two years.

I’m assuming the main purpose of the dam is power generation, along with drinking water/possibly irrigation.

Which of those uses would you have curtailed? This isn’t Russia draining the Aral Sea - the lake wouldn’t be there without the dam being built to store the water for use.

Remember that as the lake level drops, the lake narrows. One foot becomes less water as you go down.

Here’s a good overview of things today, details on many fires:

More than 85 large wildfires were burning around the country, most of them in Western states, and they had burned over 1.4 million acres (2,135 square miles, or more than 553,000 hectares).

Here’s a development:

The smoke is so bad here I feel like a 5-pack a day smoker. It’s thick in the morning, then the wind picks up and blows it in worse. It snows ash. They say its gonna rain, but it doesn’t.

Wait, What? I assure you, Lake Tahoe has not dropped 250. If it did, I’d go look for the wallet I lost in 1989.

Well, shit. We have to cancel or alter our long-planned camping, biking, floating trip in MT. It’s hard to get camping reservations so we made them long ago. We were supposed to leave tomorrow. I’ve been daily watching the AQI maps as well as wildfire maps and the Thorne Creek fire is raging on, growing every day and smoking out the area. My wife and I came up with a plan B in an area we hope isn’t quite as smoky but can we find a spot to put our tent down? We prefer National Forest campgrounds or their dispersed spots, but it’s a roll the dice situation.

I had to cancel a backpacking trip two summers ago. I feel like you can no longer make any sort of outdoor plans for the summer in the west.

I am really sorry this is happening to you. No sarcasm intended. So many plans and hopes and dreams have been dashed in the last couple of years, no wonder people are feeling overwhelmed.

The storms have really helped with the fires, the sky has been clear and blue between storms and the air smells wonderful.

I am fully aware that this is just a nice little respite, so I am spending as much time outside enjoying it as possible.

Hey, look; it isn’t just the US having trouble with wildfires right now: