Not due to legalization
July 5, 2015 2:39 PM   Subscribe

While California's water shortage continues, Cascadia has been suffering its own drought conditions, to the extent that expanding wildfires have lent the skies of Vancouver, B.C. a Mars-like orange hue.
posted by a lungful of dragon (59 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. We experienced a bit of yellowish haze in September of (2012?), when there were multiple wildfires in the Cascade foothills; but nothing like that dramatic.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:54 PM on July 5, 2015

Video from fighting the recent fires in OR and WA:
Does you life lack excitement? Perhaps you should think about becoming a Wildland firefighter.
posted by 445supermag at 2:57 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I live in Vancouver and this morning was very odd. I've seen Vancouver skies influenced by forest fires before but in 30 years of living here nothing quite like what I woke up to today.

Most of the smoke has blown over but now the smell of smoke is very strong, even inside my apartment.

Life on Mars indeed.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 3:03 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Huh. And here I am sitting in the Kelowna airport wondering why my flight to Victoria is delayed on such a perfect July afternoon.

I don't even need to Ask Metafilter anymore. It just answers all my life queries.
posted by mannequito at 3:15 PM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Been there before in San Diego. We had ashfall for most of the day that day, and I don't know if I ever got all the soot off all the things in my apartment.
posted by LionIndex at 3:16 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Those pictures overstate it. It was almost like that at 6 this morning, though more yellowish and foggy than orange and dark. Now it's just kind of a bit foggy, but mainly sunny and hazy, and smelling like forest fire. It's still pretty freaky because we almost never get smoke this thick.

That's it this visible means it's crazy bad, and my wife is keeping her inhaler close.
posted by fatbird at 3:18 PM on July 5, 2015

The best indication of how unusually dark it is, is that those buildings in Yaletown really did look lighter than the sky, along with the points on BC Place's crown. Normally, a cloudy day means the tones match.
posted by fatbird at 3:19 PM on July 5, 2015

I landed at YVR this morning and thought I had travelled back in time to when everything was sepia.
posted by Beardman at 3:22 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

They look like those weird HDR photos.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:23 PM on July 5, 2015

It really does feel creepy when the sun you thought you knew gets smoked like this and everything turns glowing red like a premonition of hell. This year's fire season has gotten an early start all over North America with pretty widespread results. I don't know if it's BC's fires or Washington or what but someone sent us a plume here in Montana this morning. I might have seen it coming in last night during the fireworks but just thought it was high-altitude clouds. Also,
posted by a lungful of dragon
do I even have to say it?
posted by traveler_ at 3:24 PM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

My entire town was yellow at 7 am. It was like being in Dune.
posted by kanata at 3:24 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I live on one of the Gulf Islands, and I don't think those pictures overstate it, at least until around 11am it really did look like that here. Everything was colours I've never seen them before. The cedar trees that border my property looked astoundingly green in contrast to that orange sky.
posted by Emanuel at 3:25 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm visiting San Juan Island today, just over the (Kaiser adjudicated) border from Canada. The wind changed about 10:30 here, but there was a stretch where the sky was downright infernal, and the sun was orange and obstructed with a sort of neutral density effect that I can't remember seeing before.
posted by wotsac at 3:36 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Whoa, at first I thought I was looking at a picture of Beijing!

That says very sad things about both situations, I guess.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:44 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

The smoke from the Canadian wild fires managed to cast an orange tinge to the sunlight in central Missouri last week. It was kind of creepy.
posted by Atreides at 3:51 PM on July 5, 2015

When I was a kid we would visit Los Angeles sometimes and the sky always seemed to look like that.
posted by rtha at 3:54 PM on July 5, 2015

This reminds me of what Vancouver was like when I was a kid and there were a number of sawmills around the city, some were right next to downtown in False Creek. The mills would have their beehive burners (for drying lumber) belching smoke. When there was a temperature inversion the city would be grey with smoke (and/or fog if it was later in the fall.) They used to call us "The Big Smoke" back then.
posted by Zedcaster at 3:56 PM on July 5, 2015 [5 favorites]

Zedcaster: thank you, I always wondered why people call it that (I grew up in Victoria).

wotsac: damn you, Kaiser Wilhelm! They should have been ours! :) Actually I just wish we had convenient ferry service between the Gulf and San Juan islands so that the communities could became more connected. I think the islands have more in common with each other than the states/provinces/countries in which they find themselves.
posted by Emanuel at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm in Minneapolis, and the sky definitely smelt smoky to us yesterday. My wife said it was fires in Saskatchewan that were causing it.
posted by jonp72 at 4:28 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile in Colorado,
we seem to have gotten the Pacific Northwest's weather. The rain is nice, for once we aren't having massive crazy wildfires all the time. Though I could live without the headache inducing humidity.
posted by evilDoug at 4:46 PM on July 5, 2015

Quaid, start the reactor.
posted by Palindromedary at 4:50 PM on July 5, 2015

Meanwhile, here in DC we are having the coolest, wettest summer in recent memory. Climate change is not fucking around, is it?
posted by nonasuch at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I live in a valley and the smoke is just sitting here and now it is starting to ash. Had to close my windows cause breathing is getting a bit hard. We have had 35C+ weather for the last two weeks and it is a shame that it has taken a fire to cool the place down. The only thing that will get rid of the smoke is wind and that will just flame the fires all over. Luckily the one in my town is limited to a side of a lake with only a few summer cabins but they've been fighting it for a day and it is still growing.

Port Hardy has a state of emergency and 100 homes evacuated.

It truly has been a summer of hell already with no signs of it stopping.
posted by kanata at 4:59 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm in Minneapolis, and the sky definitely smelt smoky to us yesterday. My wife said it was fires in Saskatchewan that were causing it.

I'm an hour so east of you, and I've felt like there's been some sort of smoke effect for at least a few days. Yesterday, it was definitely smellable, but prior to that, the sun hasn't been quite so bright during the day and sunrise and sunset are a little more red than normal. It was reminding me of when I was in high school and Mount Pinatubo erupted, which made sunsets neon orange for a while.
posted by LionIndex at 5:05 PM on July 5, 2015

We are planning to head to the beach to watch sunset tonight here in Vancouver, which should be spectacular.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:22 PM on July 5, 2015

Wow. I flew out of Vancouver back to Korea last Wednesday (after driving down the whole province from Up North, basically), and although there was a lot of talk on CBC radio about the dry conditions and rash of wildfires that were being touched off mostly from thunderstorms, all was clear and glorious blue (which made it all the more depressing to touch down back in Incheon through the smog).

What a difference a week makes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:27 PM on July 5, 2015

Why has Vancouver had such weird weather for the past two months? Outside the obvious answer of climate change. Is there some strange monster high sitting off the coast? Warm pacific current off the coast? What are the long term prospects here?

As a native Vancouverite, I need some rain to feel appreciative of great conditions, you can't appreciate the good unless you live through the bad.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:35 PM on July 5, 2015

view from my window right now.

We've had record temperatures this year and the spring and winter were dry. It's throwing my west coast rain forest body into shock. I need a certain amount of water logging every year to be a proper human.
posted by kanata at 5:40 PM on July 5, 2015 [12 favorites]

The Coast has a drought like this every year through the months of July and August and into September. But it's usually not this hot or dry or early. And there's usually a bit of snow on the mountains and some rain in May and June.

It's a difference of degree, rather than kind. But the degree is pretty scary on its own.
posted by klanawa at 5:41 PM on July 5, 2015

Vancouver weather has been weird all year, January was seriously dry as well. April/May/June were unlike anything I've seen here, first season we haven't had a single rain-out for the kids baseball games.
posted by N-stoff at 5:45 PM on July 5, 2015

Climate change plus El Niño plus Pacific decadal oscillation. Bad situation. Buckle up.
posted by ead at 5:49 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Moon was red in Chicago last night...
posted by JoeZydeco at 5:58 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wildfires give the most interesting sunsets. I still remember the ones we had during the Cerro Grande fire.
posted by NoraReed at 6:11 PM on July 5, 2015

Emanuel - it would be fairly nice if there was more convenient service between the mainland and the islands, let alone among them. I visit when I can, but it's almost inevitably a multi-day commitment.
posted by wotsac at 6:33 PM on July 5, 2015

Ever since January in Vancouver I have been muttering variations of "we finally really did it! we broke it! we broke it all to hell" re: the weather, as it has been like nothing I've seen in my 10 years here. I'm curious to see how people adapt if the summer is anything like this temperature and dryness and weirdness for any length of time, as anything even a few degrees away from Pacific NorthWest Normal for the time of year causes city wide confusion and alarm.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:40 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

All predictions are for a brutal fire season across the region. I've just been thinking about that in terms of how the fires themselves and the associated restrictions on outdoors activities will impact my work, but this is a good reminder that there are a whole set of other impacts, including air quality.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:54 PM on July 5, 2015

I know I've had to break out the emergency inhalers even tho there is no official air quality alert. The heat has been unbearable and I know a friend said she's seeing spikes in her clients with bipolar needing intervention which is something I never really thought of as a side effect of climate change.
posted by kanata at 7:02 PM on July 5, 2015

The 2003 fires in San Diego were terrifying. Ash rain on a Sunday morning, with progressively worse news all day as the fires jumped from canyon to canyon, getting closer and closer and torching thousands of homes along the way. The smoke was so thick you could barely see the sun for days on end. Made the 2007 fires and evacuations seem small potatoes by comparison.

Having just relocated to Seattle, this weather pattern of blazing sun and 80-90 degree heat would be right at home in most of California. Same for the dry, sunny January we had. It's distressing. Climate change always seemed a decade or two away, like fusion. It's definitely here now; the average high for June was 3 F above normal, the warmest on record.

We're going to keep breaking records.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:30 PM on July 5, 2015

Interesting. I spent the last week in northern Vancouver Island and there was no visible cloud whatsoever, and we were confused by the orange overcast waking up in Victoria this AM. Figured it was some weird sea fog that would burn off, but as we took the ferry back home the skies cleared rather abruptly around San Juan. The color of the light was eerily spectacular.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:35 PM on July 5, 2015

The Okanagan is, very surprisingly, not socked in with smoke.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:45 PM on July 5, 2015

fff, we were looking for local news to see if we could hear anything, but the closest tv is Kelowna, and they were talking about encroaching fires. How is it there?

I'm in Nelson, and I was staying at a friend's last night at about 5 mile on the North Shore. We were watching the fire creep down into the valley - it reached 150 HA at it's biggest - and worried about friends who were under evacuation notice. Today it smells like camping and there's a haze over everything. Not to mention the constant sound of helicopters.

Here's the story from last night. I was about two thirds of the way to the fire from the bridge in the picture.

The slightly ironic part is that my friends who are firefighters got a small burn under containment and then got pulled away to fight the Kelowna fire.

There's a lot of worry around here that it's going to be even worse than 2003.
posted by sauril at 7:48 PM on July 5, 2015

[Clicks over to weather underground tab for Portland] It was 106 degrees in PDX today?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:53 PM on July 5, 2015

I just rode over 20 on tues and back on 3 in CA on wed...guess I timed that right. It's too damn hot, though, all the way 'round.
posted by maxwelton at 9:04 PM on July 5, 2015

Why has Vancouver had such weird weather for the past two months? Outside the obvious answer of climate change. Is there some strange monster high sitting off the coast? Warm pacific current off the coast?

The water in the Pacific off mid-California right on up to Haida Gwaii (maybe futher) is 2-3 C warmer than it's supposed to be, which has given rise to a long-standing high pressure system out there, which is forcing all the cool moist air we normally get from offshore away from us (mostly north, I think). It's also really bad news for the salmon.

What are the long term prospects here?

FWIW the fires causing the smoke have been happening for the last few weeks but the wind changed direction today.
posted by junco at 9:55 PM on July 5, 2015

I'm just glad the 4th of July didn't start too many new fires near me. Last year's incident fortunately only burned down one person's house. Next time could be a few apartments, or hell, the entire city.
posted by pwnguin at 10:04 PM on July 5, 2015

Victoria was like this only a little less dramatically Martian-like. Around noon we could look directly at the sun, which had turned a delicate salmon-pink colour. The vibrancy of the green foliage was incredible. It was like being in some weird instagram filter all day.

I've lived out here my whole life and I don't remember another day where the urban area was so affected by smoke.
posted by Rumple at 10:27 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

People have said that Vancouver and Melbourne are quite similar cities, just Vancouver gets the rain and Melbourne gets the bushfires. Welcome to Melbourne's summers!
posted by wilful at 1:11 AM on July 6, 2015

I just can't stop exclaiming this to anyone who will listen, but in my entire life I've never seen Vancouver like this. Spooky is the right word, for sure. The downtown core is blanketed in a thick haze of campfire-smelling smoke. I'm shocked there hasn't been an air quality advisory; it's actually kind of hard to breathe and my eyes are stinging.

It's pretty alarming, the number of forest fires in BC right now. I'm worried.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:19 AM on July 6, 2015

"I'm shocked there hasn't been an air quality advisory"

There is actually, it was issued around noon.
posted by lastobelus at 1:46 AM on July 6, 2015

My hazy #Vancouver shot didn't turn out as apocalyptic as it feels out there, but still sort of grim. #forestfires #nofilter #endtimes
posted by filthy light thief at 5:47 AM on July 6, 2015

I'm enjoying this interactive map from Weather Underground. It can show fires, but it's interesting to see where the smoke is going:

You can set it to show forest fires. Click on Fire>Active Fires> open the settings and click everything on except North American Satellites. It has to be on Modis World Satellites. It's kind of picky about showing you ALL the Canadian fires, but it will show some (or maybe my computer is too slow).
posted by sneebler at 6:22 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's getting hotter and to escape the heat, the trees are moving north.

(Actually many plants and animals are moving North. Here in Britain, never before seen species are arriving from the Continent.)
posted by vacapinta at 7:08 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

> We're going to keep breaking records.

Well, eventually there won't be any trees left.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:28 AM on July 6, 2015

Thanks lastobelus.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:12 AM on July 6, 2015

Sauril: still good. A little smokier, but by no means anything like a bad day.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:24 PM on July 6, 2015

Tell me aboot yer homeworld eh, Usul.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:37 AM on July 7, 2015

Sauril: Now the smoke is as thick as fog. This is the Okanagan I'm used to seeing and breathing. :-(
posted by five fresh fish at 8:13 AM on July 7, 2015

The mills would have their beehive burners (for drying lumber) belching smoke.

Beehive burners were used to dispose of wood "waste" rather than lumber drying.
posted by Mitheral at 7:07 PM on July 7, 2015

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