Saturday, July 04, 2015

Hot, dry weather blamed for large number of fires across Alaska

The US state of Alaska appears to be on the track to have one of its worst fire seasons on record due to hot and dry conditions, with more than 2.2 million acres (890,308 hectares) having been burned.
Newly released data from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center show that wildfires in the state had consumed 2,253,575.8 acres already. Many fires in remote areas are unstaffed.

This year has seen an unusually high number of wildfires burning simultaneously across the tundra and forests of Alaska, and an exceptionally large number of homes and buildings have been damaged or threatened by the flames so far this year.

Meanwhile, the Alaska Division of Forestry said that "the amount of acreage burned in Alaska during June of 2015 shattered the previous acreage record set in June of 2004 by more than 700, 000 acres."

NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of the fires. Clouds obscure much of the image on either side of the dozens of fires and most probably have hidden other fires from being detected but a large swath of fires can be seen in this image with the requisite smoke from those fires drifting northward.

Wildfires are a common occurrence in the state, but this year's fires started earlier than normal and have escalated quickly.

It has been an unusual fire season for the state, mostly due to a light winter snowpack and little rain in the spring left dry ground particularly vulnerable to fires that break out when lightning strikes, NASA said in a statement.

Hot and dry conditions in Alaska have been toppling records over the past few months, many of which have been held for decades.

It was the warmest June on record in many places, including Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, and Barrow, the northernmost city in the entire United States.

In May, Alaska saw a 90-degree day earlier in the season than ever recorded. The months also went down in the annals of weather history as the warmest May on record for the entire state.

A lack of snow over the winter has earned a new record for Alaska's largest city. The National Weather Service says Anchorage received 25.1 inches of snow over the winter, compared with the normal 74.5 inches. It also became clear that dozens of cities across the Lower 48 had snowier winters than Anchorage.

The Alaskan summer of 2004 was unusual. It was the warmest summer on record, the most lightning strikes were recorded, wildland fires burned the largest acreage in recorded Alaska history. Heat, dry conditions and lightning strikes combined to produce a staggering 6,590,140 acres burned -- "more than 8 times the 10 year acreage average," according to the state's Division of Air Quality.

  Source:Xinhua -

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