Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Image: National Interagency Fire Center via Wikimedia Commons
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer
The Bootleg fire in Southern Oregon has grown so large and so hot that it’s creating its own weather. You read that right; the Bootleg fire is disrupting wind patterns, causing fire to spread faster, and has even caused its own lightning. This development has presented an additional hardship for firefighters and forest managers and impaired their ability to forecast how a fire may spread.
Marcus Kauffman, a spokesman for the state forestry department, said, “normally, the weather predicts what the fire will do. In this case, the fire is predicting what the weather will do.”
When fires create their own weather, it can create severe obstacles for firefighting efforts, prolonging fires and causing further destruction.
The cycle of drought and rising temperatures that brought these fires to life is only getting worse, and experts predict that next year’s wildfire season will yet again break records. Next year, it may not be just one fire spinning up fire vortexes and lightning; it could be many. Even now, the strongest fires aren’t just disrupting the West; the Bootleg fire alone is so large, it’s impacting air quality on the East Coast.
Bootleg Fireballs: The Bootleg fire is currently the fourth largest fire that has ever burned in the U.S., but experts say it could break the record in the coming days.
It’s now raging over 606 square miles and expanding by up to 4 square miles each day.
Its rapid expansion is attributed to its internal weather systems, which have created winds that sweep fire miles ahead, throws fireballs, and create fast-moving fire tornadoes. Tall updrafts of heat, smoke, and moisture up to eight miles high have made pyrocumulus clouds that can have severe consequences on the ground. The mass of these clouds eventually collapses, falling to the fiery ground below, creating a ripple effect of hot air and fire around it.
Although the Bootleg fire is now 30% contained, fire crews have had to retreat from the fire for the past ten days as it chaotically and unpredictably expands. 2,000 homes have now been evacuated, and more than 170 homes and buildings have been destroyed. 5,000 more homes may need to be evacuated in the coming days. Still, firefighting crews say they’re in it for the long haul.
“We’re in this for as long as it takes to safely confine this monster,” said Incident Commander Rob Allen on Tuesday.”
Experts say that they’d been expecting a severe fire in the region for years but that climate change is handing firefighting crews more than they’d bargained for.
James Johnston, a researcher with Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, says that increasingly dry vegetation and a lack of healthy and controlled burning are at fault for the current crisis.
“It’s an area that’s exceptionally prone to catastrophic fire,” he said. “But what’s changed over the past 100 years is an extraordinary amount of fuel buildup.”
That buildup has translated to rapidly traveling smoke clouds. Smoke from the Bootleg Fire has now traveled 3,000 miles, shocking East coast residents who believed they were safe from wildfires. In some areas, smoke settled near the ground, creating serious health and air quality risks. The National Weather Service office in Albany, New York, documented the view from its windows, “in areas where skies are ‘clear,’ thick smoke aloft is limiting sunshine, with no discernible sunrise visible at our office earlier this morning despite practically clear skies!“
Delegates attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow will get to see a very cool display during their stay. So cool, in fact, that it’s been frozen since 1765. Artist Wayne Binitie and scientists of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have retrieved an Antarctic time capsule containing the world’s purest air. The pocket of atmosphere was […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The European Environment Agency (EEA) found that a majority of EU countries broke at least one air pollution limit last year — despite COVID-19 lockdowns. In addition, 17 EU countries failed to stay below ozone pollution targets, which directly influence global warming; and eight EU countries failed to stay […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer An Indonesian district court ruled yesterday that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has neglected Jakarta’s residents right to clean air. In a unanimous ruling in favor of the 32 residents who brought the case, the Central Jakarta District Court ordered Widodo, and six other top officials deemed negligent, to improve […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.