Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Up In Smoke (Or Is It 'Out With Smoke')

Note: All pictures, maps and video in this post are from various sources found on the Internet

Eight days ago a lot of heat lightening went through Central California and started numerous fires.  The SCU Lightning Complex (Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties) currently at 363,772 acres and 15% contained, the LNU Lightning Complex (Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, and Solano Counties) currently at 352,913 acres and 27% contained, and the CZU Lightning Complex (Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties) currently at 78,869 acres and 17% contained fires, all started that night.  All take on the name "Complex" because they were many fires close to each other from which, for the most part, the smaller fires each joined into one larger fire.  The picture above is of the LNU fire as it crossed over I-80 near Vacaville and Fairfield, between Sacramento and San Francisco.  These fires, along with the many other fires which have hit California this year, have been devastating.

Stats from Cal Fire Website 4:30 pm, Tuesday, August 25th

About 10 days ago I happened to look at the Cal Fire website to see just how many fires and acres there had been so far.  I remember the acreage was around 350,000 acres.  Eight days later, 1.2 million more acres have 'gone up in smoke', growing to 1.5 million acres.  Or, as I suggest in the title, 'Out With Smoke'.  I say that because the smoke does go up...but then it goes out...and then it falls low to the ground...and with 1.2 million acres burning, that is a lot of smoke!

I think with the smoke this thick, people would be wearing masks even if there was not a pandemic taking place right now.  At times, the air is just thick with smoke.

This map from the Cal Fire Website shows some of the current fires.  It does not include house fires, localized fields which catch fire in cities and towns, and it does not show all of the National Forest/National Park fires...but it does show the major fires and most fires which fall under Cal Fire's jurisdiction.  

The above two pictures are from the Cal Fire Website showing the CZU fire.  What I like about the Cal Fire map is that you can get very close on the map and see the perimeter of the fire zone.  On May 1st-4th of 2018 we went over to Felton to visit my cousin Richard.  He and his wife Marci operate the Daybreak Camp there.  They were evacuated last Thursday in the middle of the night.  Thank goodness this camp, and much of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park have not burnt up.  Another thing to remember is that just because an area is within the 'red zone', it does not mean that everything within is totally burned up...that won't be known until people can get in and examine the entire burn zone.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Big Basin State Park just north of Rich and Marci's camp...it has been devastated.  Anyone who has visited these great Redwoods in California have probably heard that they are very hardy and have survived many forest fires.  The following is a quote from the "Outsider" website about the Big Basin State Park:

The California fires continue burning. Reports now say that Big Basin, the state’s oldest redwood tree park, is engulfed in flames. Century old trees in the park may be lost forever.

“We are devastated to report that Big Basin State Park, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone,” Sempervirens Fund, an organization working for redwoods protection, wrote in a post to their website on Friday.  

Let's hope that as they get in there that they find that many of the trees actually survived...but I am sure it won't be the same.  I remember upon my visits to various Redwood Parks is that fires bring new, future growth within the Redwoods.  But the results of new growth won't be very visible for many, many years.  Fingers are crossed that Great Basin is not as bad as people think. 

Note: After my post I found this article:  

Big Basin Redwoods survive fires: Photos show what California's oldest park looks like now


Cal Fire's main airport is right near where we are at here at Sandy and Arny's house.  We hear planes and helicopters coming and going all day long.  Although there are many smaller airports from which smaller planes and helicopters use to fight the fires, large airports are needed for the large planes.  The helicopters we hear are typically large ones carrying machinery and supplies to varous fires. The second picture above is the 747 Supertanker dropping a load a few days ago, most likely for the LNU fire.  The Supertanker can drop nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or water in one load.  Normally it breaks the drop up into 2 or 3 passes.  It can take off, drop its load a couple of hundred miles away, and land again in just about an hour.  45 minutes later, it can be up in the air again. 

Above is a 9-10 minute video of the Supertanker in action.  It is an amazing plane.  Although you can't see it in the video, it actually follows a smaller plane as it nears the drop zone since it flies so low to the ground that the pilots can't see where they are going.  The small plane acts as a spotter to let them know when to dump, when to stop the dump, and warn them of stuff such as electrical lines and cell towers.

Above is air quality for yesterday.  As a kid I remember they would burn the rice fields to the west of Sacramento, and the smoke from these fires would be intense, but the smoke would not last long since they burned on a windy day...once the field was burned, the smoke would blow through.  The rice fields were burned after harvest to dispose of the left over straw and to control disease and pest problems that can carry over between crops...which is rarely done any more.  With today's wildfires we have ash falling on cars, sidewalks, windows...just about anywhere and everywhere.  The air quality this past week is the worst I have ever seen.  The only good thing is that the heavy smoke has kept the temperatures down by 5-10 degrees.

I see from some of the blogs I follow that the smoke has reached other places, such as Montana, the Dakotas, Utah and Colorado, and places beyond.  I smile when I see pictures because it is nothing we are facing here.  
We sure are thankful for all the Cal Fire Fire Workers, and the many Fire Workers who have come from throughout the state and from other states to fight these fires.  Heroes, just plain HEROES! 

Note:  When they talk about a fire being contained, it is defined as follows:
The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire's spread.
Although the fires are far from full containment, much of the boundary growth has stopped.  Within the 'Red Zone' there are still many hot spots, and wind will cause them to flare up, causing more smoke.  So far, the winds have not blown up the fire to where the boundaries have grown over the past few days.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Another "How Hot Is It?", Toys For Indy, LED Lights

Seems like every year we run into a HOT week, especially while we are in the Sacramento area.  Well, this is the week...and when I say the week, I mean 8 days.  Yesterday it was 102, 107 now (5 pm Friday), and the forecast is...well, pictures tell it.

And DON'T believe it when it shows possible showers...there are NO showers in sight!  Thank goodness we have this nice tree throwing shade on us, along with the neighbor's Italian Cypress.  But around 3:00 we are halfway in the sun, and as any RVer knows, the AC will only cool it so much.  The other bad thing is that the nights are not cooling into the 60's like they usually do.  Any breeze we have is coming more from the north than the cool delta breeze which comes from the west.  There is always hope for that breeze...

I have taken Indy for a ride in the car five or six times now.  Twice to PetSmart for exam and then haircut, twice to see mom, and today to see mom AND another trip to PetSmart.  She tossed up her breakfast the first three times, the last very little since I did not feed her much.  The last time she did just fine, but without breakfast...today she did fine with breakfast.  She wants to sit on my lap while I drive, but that can only happen on a few non-busy residential areas.  Saw mom first (she is doing fine and there is nice shade if you get there early enough...she looks down from her balcony as we park just below), then I found some shade when we got to PetSmart.  Got her on my lap and out the window her head went.

She sure looks like she wanted to jump down, and I think she would if given the opportunity.  "Don't worry little girl, this trip is for fun...", I tell her.  I got my new mask on, and we had fun looking over the many chew toys, tossing toys, etc. etc.


I got her two new toys...the red ball with all the holes, and a squeaky squirrel.

So far, it has been too hot to play...sleeping is the order of the day.  In the photo above you can see a smaller ball, that is her favorite toy.  It is called a "Nobbly Wobbly" Rubber Ball, but PetSmart did not have any.  This one is just starting to come apart...so it looks like we have another Amazon order.


I did change out our two living area fluorescent lights with LED lights.  I did not take pictures, but I did use a video as a guide.  Once I understood what I was doing, it only took about ten minutes per fixture to change out...and we LOVE the brighter light that it provides.  Below is a link to one of the videos I watched.  Essentially it was cutting a few wires, removing that circuit board, connect a few wires and insert the LED lights.  

Back on July 7th I did a online order with the USGS for a National Park Senior Pass.  On July 30th I called and the nice lady told me that they were processing July 1st orders, so it would be another week or so.  Well, I called today and a different nice lady, after having a few "Oh No" and "I can't believe this..." type of conversation with herself told me that there was a mess up with the order...a mess up which many others have faced too...and that she was going to FedEx through two day shipping a card to us...but being Friday, it was too late for FedEx so she "HOPES" it ships Monday, and we should get it Wednesday or Thursday.  "IF" I don't get a shipping confirmation email by Wednesday, I need to call back.  Our fingers are crossed.  Truckee has temps in the mid-80's, with mid-40's at night, and it would have been nice to be up there this next week.