Tuesday, July 31, 2018

'Fire Cloud' Looms Over California, Wildfires So Strong, They Are Creating Their Own Weather Systems

Ominous 'Fire Cloud' Looms Over California Hellscape As Exhausted Firefighters Battle Fatigue

As California battles its 7th most destructive wildfire in state history, Mendocino County resident Dylan Duarte captured a giant mushroom cloud rising above hills in the distance. 
Known as a pyrocumulus cloud, the ominous red weather formations usually occur over volcanic eruptions or forest fires when intensely heated air triggers an upward motion that pushes smoke and water vapor to rapidly rise. They can develop their own weather patters, including thunderstorms with severe winds which then further fan the flames. 

Other fire-related weather phenomenon was captured by fleeing residents, such as this "fire tornado" in Nevada County, CA. 
There are currently 16 active fires burning across California, sending smoke eastward. 

The deadliest of the blazes is the Carr fire, which has killed six people including two firefighters, and destroyed at least 1,236 structures. Over 2,500 structures remain threatened - while the Mendocino Complex fires threaten over 12,000 structures. 
The carr fire has burned nearly 110,000 acres and is around 27% contained. Evacuation orders have been lifted for Douglas County and portions of Happy Valley, Redding and Shasta Lake City according to officials. 
Meanwhile, firefighters hailing from 16 states are fighting against fatigue as they battle the infernos. 

Meanwhile, the air quality in Redding has dropped to dangerous levels, as officials warn the public to stay indoors and wear a mask outside. 

Other fires across the state
Several other fires continue to rage across California, including the Ferguson fire which has consumed more than 57,000 acres near Yosemite National Park leading to the closure of the Yosemite Valley, as well as the Cranston fire burning in the San Jacinto mountains east of Los Angeles which has burned over 13,000 acres and is 57% contained. 
The cause of the blaze has been attributed to arson. Cal Fire officials arrested Brandon N. McGlover, 32, of Temecula for allegedly setting multiple fires in southwestern Riverside County on July 25, 2018.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Office lifted evacuation orders for the communities of Pine Cove, Fern Valley, Cedar Glen, and portions of Idyllwild outside of the fire perimeter. -Accuweather
"Good work was done on the northeast portion of the fire where the biggest threat to the community persists," officials said Monday.

As more than a dozen major fires roar across the state of California, some of 
them have burned so fiercely that they're creating their own weather systems.
Massive pyrocumulus clouds have formed over the Carr, Ferguson, Cranston
 and Mendocino Complex fires burning in four different parts of the state
 (Shasta County, near Yosemite, Riverside County, and Mendocino
 County, respectively).
The so-called "fire clouds" form over volcanic eruptions or forest fires when
 an intense heating of the air triggers an upward motion, pushing smoke
 and water vapor to rapidly rise. These foreboding clouds can develop
 their own weather, even producing thunderstorms with severe winds, 
which fan the flames and help the wildfires spread.
One "fire-induced vortex" in Redding caused damage that made it look
 like a tornado ripped through the city, downing trees and blowing off

The Ferguson Fire on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park, which has
 burned more than 56,000 acres and resulted in two deaths, was 30
 percent contained. The Cranston Fire in Southern California was
 57 percent contained after burning more than 13,000 acres.
For the most part, pyrocumulus clouds and the weather patterns
 they create make it harder for firefighters to extinguish wildfires.
 But, as Oustide Online reports, in rare circumstances the 
towering clouds can accumulate enough moisture to produce rain,
 which can help put out the fires from which they formed.

Wildfires Rage Across Europe

Wildfires rage across Europe as countries battle intense heat wave

As a scorching heat wave engulfs large parts of Europe this summer, fires have torn through dozens of countries across the European Union. From Germany to France to Sweden, countries in Western Europe are set for another intense heat wave this week with temperatures soaring above 90 degrees. As firefighters continue to battle treacherous blazes that have killed scores of people, here’s a look at what some European countries face as wildfires continue to scorch large swaths of land.


More than 80 people died in a wildfire that swept through the seaside coastal town of Mati. Authorities suspect the cause of the fire was arson.
The country is going through an unspeakable tragedy,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on July 24.
The fire was the deadliest in a decade. About 200 firefighters were battling the blaze in Mati. Confused tourists and residents were forced to flee to the sea to escape the fast-moving blaze. Amid the chaos, some people got trapped on dead-end roads or cliffs and weren’t able to get away.
Tsipras declared three days of national mourning to honor those who died.


As an unusual heat wave continues to engulf Sweden, with temperatures reaching above 90 degrees just north of the Arctic Circle, at least 40 wildfires are burning across the country — home to more than 9 million people and an amazing array of wildlife.

heatwave and deadly wildfires europe, heatwave europe, wildfire europe, wildfire europe risk

Some fires were sparked by thunderstorms, with an estimated 62,000 acres burned so far. Italian planes and Norwegian helicopters have been fighting the fast-moving flames, and more help from other European countries, including France and Germany, is on the way. However, strong winds will continue to push the fire.


Firefighters are still battling several wildfires in Finland as meteorologists with the Finnish Meteorological Institute warn that there’s a high risk more blazes could ignite in the southern and central regions, where there was a brief reprieve because of rain and subsiding winds. Over the next five days, dry, warm weather — with the chance of winds — is forecast.
Fires have scorched forested areas in Lapland, a northern province near the border with Russia. Dozens of people were evacuated from summer cottages in the south.


Dry terrain in the Scandinavian country created ample fuel for the fires. Firefighters have been battling wildfires in various parts of Norway since May. The fires, now mostly under control, became deadly when in late July, a firefighter died battling a blaze in southern Norway. Earlier this year, the country experienced record heat.
It is extremely dry in the countryside and the forest fire index is sky-high,” Mathias Drange, the head of the firefighting response unit, told local media in May. “In this case the alarm was fortunately raised in good time so we have a good chance of controlling the fire.
Although fires have been contained, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute’s website said there was “very high” risk of forest fire in various parts of the country.


Wildfires have scorched more than 1,600 acres since July 17. Officials requested foreign assistance about a week later to fight the large forest fires. The extreme heat has made it difficult for
Warm weather is expected to continue and resources to battle the flames are stretched thin. “Most of the affected areas are not accessible by ground capabilities and aerial firefighting is the only option.
These wildfires are going to grow larger this week and new ones are going to start and spread as Europe is being engulfed by an unprecedented heat wave this week again.

Building A Russian Bogeyman

Last week, we considered how the Bush and Obama administrations worked in tandem – wittingly or unwittingly, but I’m betting on the former – to move forward with the construction of a US missile defense system smack on Russia’s border following the attacks of 9/11 and Bush’s decision to scrap the ABM Treaty with Moscow.
That aggressive move will go down in the (non-American) history books as the primary reason for the return of Cold War-era atmosphere between Washington and Moscow. Currently, with the mainstream news cycle top-heavy with 24/7 ‘Russiagate’ baloney, many people have understandably forgotten that it was during the Obama administration when US-Russia relations really hit rock bottom. And it had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s home computer getting allegedly compromised by some Russia hackers.

US-Russia relations on Obama’s watch experienced their deepest deterioration since the days of the US-Soviet standoff. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that the 44th US president picked up almost seamlessly where Bush left off, and then some. Initially, however, it looked as though relations with Russia would improve as Obama announced he would “shelve” the Bush plan for ground-based interceptors in Poland and a related radar site in the Czech Republic. Then, the very same day, he performed a perfect flip-flop into the geopolitical pool, saying he would deploy a sea-based variety – which is every bit as lethal as the land version, as then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted – instead of a land-locked one.
It deserves mentioning that the fate of the New START Treaty (signed into force on April 8, 2010), the nuclear missile reduction treaty signed between Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, hung in the balance on mutual cooperation between the nuclear powers. Nevertheless, it became clear the Obama sweet talk was just a lot of candy-coated nothing.
What is truly audacious about the Obama administration’s moves is that it somehow believed Moscow would radically reduce its ballistic missile launch capabilities, as prescribed in the New START treaty, at the very same time the United States was building a mighty sword along the entire length of its Western border.
The Obama administration clearly underestimated Moscow, or overestimated Obama’s charm powers.
By the year 2011, after several years of failed negotiations to bring Russia onboard the system, Moscow’s patience was clearly over. During the G-8 Summit in France, Medvedev expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the missile defense system with the US.
“When we ask for the name of the countries that the shield is aimed at, we get silence,” he said. “When we ask if the country has missiles (that could target Europe), the answer is 'no.'”
“Now who has those types of missiles (that the missile defense system could counter)?”
“We do,” Medvedev explained. “So we can only think that this system is being aimed against us.”
As I wrote last week on these pages: “In March, Putin stunned the world, and certainly Washington’s hawks, by announcing in the annual Address to the Federal Assembly the introduction of advanced weapons systems – including those with hypersonic capabilities – designed to overcome any missile defense system in the world.
These major developments by Russia, which Putin emphasized was accomplished “without the benefit” of Soviet-era expertise, has fueled the narrative that “Putin’s Russia” is an aggressive nation with “imperial ambitions,” when in reality its goal was to form a bilateral pact with the United States and other Western states almost two decades ago post 9/11.
As far as ‘Russiagate’, the endless probe into the Trump administration for its alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, not a shred of incriminating evidence has ever been provided that would prove such a thing occurred. And when Putin offered to cooperate with Washington in determining exactly what happened, the offer was rebuffed.
In light of such a scenario, it is my opinion that the Democrats, fully aware – despite what the skewed media polls erringly told them – that Hillary Clinton stood no chance of beating the Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, set about crafting the narrative of ‘Russian collusion’ in order to not only delegitimize Trump’s presidency, possibly depriving him of a second term in 2010, but to begin the process of severely curtailing the work of ‘alternative media,’ which are in fact greatly responsible for not only Trump’s victory at the polls, but for exposing the dirt on Clinton’s corrupt campaign.
These alternative media sites have been duly linked to Russia in one way or another as a means of silencing them. Thus, it is not only Russia that has been victimized by the lunacy of Russiagate; every single person who stands for the freedom of speech has suffered a major setback one way or another.
Part I of this story is available here.

Caroline Glick: The Threat That Iran Will Choose To Initiate War From Syria Continues To Rise

Caroline Glick: The Stakes in Syria Continue to Rise

The threat that Iran will choose to initiate a devastating war in the Middle East, from its perch in Syria, continues to rise.

Last Thursday, forces wearing Syrian military uniforms along the Syrian side of the border with Israel at Quneitra in the Golan Heights hoisted the Syrian flag at the border crossing. It was the first time the regime had asserted its control over the border zone since 2014.
The regime’s reconquest of southwestern Syria, along the borders with Jordan and Israel, in recent weeks has been accompanied by repeated penetration of Israeli territory by projectiles from Syria.

Last Tuesday, Israel shot down a Syrian Air Force Sukhoi 22 that crossed into its territory. Last Wednesday, so-called Islamic State (ISIS) forces in southern Syria shot two missiles into Israel that fell into the Sea of Galilee just a few dozen yards from beachgoers. The Israeli navy located one of the missiles, but is still looking for the other one, which reportedly failed to detonate.

Assad owes his survival to two outside powers: Iran and Russia. Iran has directed Assad’s war effort, including his mass killing from the outset of the war in 2011. Through its Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Hezbollah and Shiite militia proxies, Iran supplied the ground forces to secure Assad’s control of territory. Assad needed these forces because over the years, at least half of his armed forces deserted their posts. Today, Assad still lacks the manpower to hold the territories he is reclaiming. Iranian-controlled forces still comprise the bulwark of the “Syrian regime forces.”

As Iran supplied Assad with his army, Russia has served as his air force since 2015. Had Russian President Vladimir Putin not sent his bombers to Syria, Assad and his Iranian controllers would probably have lost the war. In exchange for saving him, Assad gave Putin the Khmeimim air base and the Tartus naval base.

This outcome is deeply problematic for the U.S. and for Israel. Russia’s position in Syria has made it both the most powerful actor in Syria and a major power broker in the Middle East as a whole. So long as U.S. and Russian positions are unaligned, particularly in relation to Iran, Russia’s empowerment comes at America’s expense.

For Israel, Russia’s appearance in Syria ended the air superiority it has held since 1982. Once Putin stepped in, any thought of Israel helping to overthrow Assad disappeared.
Israel’s primary interest in the war has from the outset was to prevent Iran from transferring precision weapons to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon through Syria. Since it became clear that the Iranian-controlled Assad regime would defeat its opponents, Israel’s goal has been to end the Iranian presence in Syria altogether.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked avidly to forge an operational partnership with Putin in the hopes of diminishing Russia’s commitment to Iran generally, and to Iran’s control over the Syrian regime more specifically. To Putin’s credit, he has opted to avoid confrontation with Israel and to accept Israel’s right to attack his Iranian partners. But his strategic ties to Iran remain significant and present a major challenge to Israel and the U.S.

This is the case because Iran’s position in Syria poses a massive threat to Israel. Unlike the Syrian regime, which avoided direct conflict with Israel after Israel destroyed its air force in 1982, Iran is interested in a war with Israel.

Iran’s Hezbollah proxy army has exerted effective control over Lebanon since 2008. Hezbollah has 150,000 missiles pointing at Israel. Its forces have now gained massive combat experience through their participation in the war in Syria. Hezbollah also has effective control over the U.S.-armed and trained Lebanese Armed Forced, (LAF).

Iran’s control over the Syrian ground forces increases the prospect of war not only against Israel, but against U.S. forces in the Middle East and against Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s threats against oil shipments through the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and the Bab el Mandab at the mouth of the Red Sea – the two sea lanes that control all seabound oil shipments from the Middle East — cannot be seen in isolation from its presence in Syria. There is a possibility that Iran may choose to begin a major war against the U.S. and its allies by attacking Israel from Syria and Lebanon. Add to that the fact that Iran controls the Hamas regime in Gaza as well, and we are looking at the prospect of a war breaking out along any one of these Iranian-controlled fronts, which could easily become a regionwide war.

In response to the U.S.-Israel demand that all Iranian forces be removed from Syria, Lavrov offered to withdraw Iranian forces to a distance of 100 kilometers from the Israeli border. Netanyahu and Israel’s security leadership scoffed at the offer, pointing to the fact that Iranian, Hezbollah, and Shiite militia forces are all operating along the Israeli border in Syrian uniforms.
Netanyahu reinstated Israel’s demand that all Iranian forces and Iranian-controlled forces withdraw from Syria and added three new demands. He insisted on the closure of Syria’s borders with Iraq and Syria; the destruction of the Iranian precision-guided missile factories operating in Syria; and the removal of the surface-to-air missile batteries now protecting the missile factories. Lavrov in turn, rejected the Israeli demands.
It is not clear whether Russia is facilitating Iranian operations in Syria because the Russians cannot prevent them, or if Putin is simply waiting for an offer from the U.S. and Israel that he cannot refuse.

What is absolutely apparent is that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian interference on behalf of Trump in the 2016 elections — and the brutal onslaught against Trump by the media, the Democrats, and former Obama administration officials in the aftermath of his summit with Putin — make it impossible for the Trump administration to pursue a diplomatic course with Russia. This, despite the fact that such a move is critical to prevent war.
Israeli military officials assess that Assad and Iran will not rush into a conflict with Israel. And Russia has made clear that it will not support their operations against the Jewish state. But the danger lurks and grows with each passing day.
It is clear enough that given the enormous stakes in Syria, as events unfold, all U.S. and Israeli assets in relation to Iran/Syria – military, economic and diplomatic – should be deployed in a coordinated manner to eject Iran and its proxies from Syria while avoiding a major war.
It is a major setback that due to the Mueller probe, and the U.S. media’s mobilization on its behalf, America is blocked at this critical juncture from seeking a diplomatic accord with Russia that would contribute significantly to the achievement of this vital goal.

Carr Fire In California - Size And Heat Of Fire Creating Its Own Weather System, Updates On California Fires

The Carr Fire raging in Northern California is so large and hot that it is creating its own localized weather system with variable strong winds, making it difficult for experts to predict which way the blaze will spread.
At least 19 people were still reported missing in Shasta County, California, officials said at a community meeting Monday evening, after shifting winds, dry fuel and steep terrain helped the monstrous fire engulf more than 103,000 acres. 
The fire has claimed six lives, including a firefighter and bulldozer operator working to extinguish the blaze.
Authorities have received 48 missing person reports but 29 people have since been found safe, according to Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko.
The fire, which started a week ago, has burned 103,772 acres and is just 23% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire. It has scorched an area bigger than the size of Denver. 
Flames have destroyed at least 966 structures in the area, making it one of the top 10 most destructive wildfires in California history. In fact, seven of the 12 most destructive fires have happened since 2015.
"We are seeing more destructive, larger fires burning at rates that we have historically never seen," said Jonathan Cox, Cal Fire regional battalion chief. 
More than 3,300 fire personnel are battling the flames with more than 330 engines and 17 helicopters, Cal Fire reported.
Wildfires like this can get so hot they make pyrocumulus clouds, formations that look like mushroom clouds and can be seen for miles.

Cumulus clouds are usually formed when the sun heats the ground, sending warm air up, where the air cools and condenses to form a cloud. In a wildfire, heat from flames forces the air to rise quickly. Water inside trees and other plants evaporates. The added moisture condenses in the cooler air above.
The clouds look and act like thunderstorms. They can produce lightning and powerful winds in different directions, further complicating efforts of firefighters.
Sometimes, they even contain enough moisture to become a type of cloud that can produce rain -- possibly even putting out the blaze.

High temperatures, low humidity and increased winds are all in the forecast, setting the stage for more explosive fire behavior, Chris Harvey with the Cal Fire Incident Management Team said Sunday.

The National Weather Service also warned that forecast conditions would worsen the situation.

"A dangerous heat wave will continue from California to the Pacific Northwest early this week. Triple-digit heat combined with dry humidity will only exacerbate the ongoing wildfire situation in California," it said on Twitter.
CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said no rain is in the forecast this week.
"Winds in the area of the fires will be locally gusty, with gusts up to 25 mph. The fires are likely to generate their own winds, which could be stronger at times," she said. "Elsewhere across Central and Southern California the story remains similar. Temperatures will remain 5-10 degrees above average for the region, and dry/drought conditions will continue with little to no rain expected throughout the week."

California fires are ablaze again this summer, destroying homes and businesses, causing the deaths of at least at least six people, and displacing thousands. With the worst blazes raging across Northern California near Redding with more smaller fires burning across Southern California, the 2018 California wildfires are difficult to keep track of. Thankfully, Google Maps has released its 2018 California fire map that lists updates on the various blazes, as well as a Google Crisis Map with information about air quality, evacuation orders, shelters, fire containment statistics, road closures, and more.
Google’s 2018 Statewide Fire Map for California lists all the active fires in the state for which California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is responding. The continuously updated map is a good way for people not in the midst of the smoke to get a better understanding of the challenges currently facing the Golden State.

Carr Fire

The Carr Fire is California’s deadliest blaze of 2018 so far, covering nearly 100,000 acres near the Northern California city of Redding, destroying more than 700 homes, and claiming the lives of at least six people, including one firefighter, so far. More than 38,000 people have evacuated the area.
The rapidly spreading wildfire began Thursday in the foothills of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and spread down toward Redding and surrounding neighborhoods and roadways including Interstate 5.
The Carr Fire continues to rage, though it is now 20% contained, which refers to how much of a control line has been constructed around a fire to keep it from jumping major roadways and igniting new areas of land. A control line is also referred to as a fire trail, an actual line dug in soil to prevent a fire from burning more brush.
The Carr Fire has stayed in the news not just because of its ferocity and “wall of flame,” as Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean called it when speaking with NBC News. Video of a so-called firenado from the Carr Fire has gone viral, showing a frightening tornado-like fire vortex that results from a massive wind updraft combined with the heat of a major blaze.

River and Ranch Fires (Mendocino Complex)

Burning across Mendocino and Lake Counties, these two Northern California wildfires started on Friday, located within 14 miles of one another. The Ranch Fire was at over 35,000 acres as of Monday, and the River Fire has already burned 20,000 acres. Each fire is just 5% contained, according to Santa Rosa, Calif. newspaper The Press Democrat.

Ferguson Fire

The Ferguson Fire, located in the foothills west of Yosemite National Park and Sierra National Forest, has consumed over 56,000 acres and is 30% contained as of Monday.

Whaleback Fire

The Whaleback Fire is burning east of Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lassen National Forest near towns including Susanville. This Northern California wildfire, cause still unknown, began on Friday and has burned more than 14,000 acres. As of Monday, the Whaleback Fire was 20% contained, according to KOLO-TV.
With summer winds fanning the flames of the California fires, causing some blazes to grow and others to merge, these two dynamic maps are worth bookmarking, so you can stay up to date with the latest updates from affected areas in Northern California as well as Southern California.
Fortune will continue to update this post as California’s 2018 summer fires continue to rage.

Indonesia's Lombok Island Quake: Death Toll Continues To Rise

Lombok earthquake: Death toll rises on Indonesian island [Video]

powerful earthquake has killed at least 14 people and injured more than 160 on Indonesia’s Lombok island, with many people left stranded by landslides.
The quake damaged more than 1,000 houses on the popular tourist island and was felt in a wider area, including on the neighbouring island of Bali, where no damage or casualties were reported.
More than 500 hikers and their guides remain stranded as landslides struck on active volcano Mount Rinjani.

Head of Rinjani national park Sudiyono, who goes by one name, said: ’There are still 560 people trapped. Five hundred are in Segara Anakan area, and 60 are in Batu Ceper.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.4 magnitude quake struck at a depth of only 4.4 miles.
East Lombok district was the hardest hit with 10 deaths, including a Malaysian tourist, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency.

The number of casualties could increase as data is still being collected from other locations on the island, he said.
At least 162 people were injured, including 67 taken to hospital with serious injuries, Mr Nugroho said.
In East Lombok and the provincial capital of Mataram, the quake lasted about 10 seconds, causing residents to flee their homes on to streets and fields, Mr Nugroho said.

He added that most of the fatalities and injuries were caused by falling slabs of concrete.
Television footage showed residents remaining outside, fearing aftershocks, as the injured were being treated on mattresses taken out of their partially damaged houses and patients were wheeled out of a hospital.
Eka Fathurrahman, the police chief in East Lombok, said the Malaysian woman who died was part of a group of 18 Malaysian tourists who had just visited Mount Rinjani when the quake jolted their guesthouse and toppled a concrete wall. Six other people were injured at the guesthouse.
Mr Fathurrahman said many injured people who were treated outside a damaged clinic were taken to the main hospital farther away after more ambulances reached the devastated location in East Lombok’s Sembalun village.

Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency recorded more than 130 aftershocks.
Lombok is known for pristine beaches and mountains. Hotels and other buildings in both locations are not allowed to exceed the height of coconut trees.
Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In December 2004, a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries.