Wildfires now reaching higher altitudes that are usually colder and wetter: Find out what that means

Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Wildfires are burning away the West’s snow
  • Researcher Stephanie Kampf’s team set out to determine whether more wildfires are burning at high elevations. The answer is unequivocally yes. And the consequences are dramatic: Snow in wildfire-burned areas is melting 18 to 24 days earlier than average.
  • The snowpack is critical… it contributes 20% to 90% of surface water used for agriculture, energy production, aquatic species habitat and more.
  • “What this study shows nicely is that fires are moving into places that we would think of as being more resistant because they’re cooler and wetter”
  • The study also found that snow in burned areas contains less water
  • Downstream water managers might need to prepare for an earlier melt-off that will contribute to reservoirs much earlier than needed.

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Another dry season for Idaho if more snow doesn’t arrive

Important Takeaways:

  • ‘Really tight water year’: Drought, low snowpack may foretell Idaho’s climate future
  • When winter ends and summer’s broiling heat arrives, it is these snowy peaks that serve as the state’s reservoir, filling the Salmon, Snake, Big Lost, Boise and other tributaries with cold, clear water.
  • By the turn of the century, Idaho could see reductions of 35%-65% of its snowpack, according to a study published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment last year.
  • Idaho’s dry weather in 2021 saw over two-thirds of the state in extreme or exceptional drought
  • This month, most areas of the state are listed in moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

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Sierra Nevada breaks records but not drought

Luke 21:25,26 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Important Takeaways:

  • Sierra Nevada records nearly 17 feet of snow this month – enough to break records – after months of extreme drought that triggered water shortages and stoked wildfires
  • The increased snowfall and moisture the state has experienced this month finally helped to end the wildfire season.
  • Many states across the region have reported about a 90 percent drought with some states completely in drought.  
  • Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada accounts for 30 percent of California’s fresh water supply in an average year, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

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Sierra Nevada needs more snow

Important Takeaways:

  • Swelling Sierra Nevada snowpack offers no reprieve for Sonoma County drought
  • The California snowpack, which provides a third of the state’s water supply, was at 159% of normal
  • The federal government’s Drought Monitor last week showed nearly 70% of California, including the entire North Bay, in severe to extreme drought, the map’s second and third highest of four drought levels.
  • “More storms will be needed as we move through the winter season”

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Flooding will go on in storm-ravaged U.S. Midwest; $1 billion in damage, 4 dead

FILE PHOTO: A flooded parcel of land along the Platte River is pictured in this aerial photograph at La Platte, south of Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Drone Base

(Reuters) – The flooding that devastated the U.S. Midwest is likely to last into next week, as rain and melted snow flow into Kansas, Missouri and Mississippi, the National Weather Service said.

Floods driven by melting snow in the Dakotas will persist even as Nebraska and Iowa dig out from storms that have killed four people, left one missing and caused more than a billion dollars in damage to crops, livestock and roads.

“It’s already not looking good downstream for the middle and lower Mississippi and Missouri (rivers) into Kansas, Mississippi and Missouri,” Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the NWS’s Weather Prediction Center, said early Wednesday.

The floodwaters have inundated a swath of Iowa and Nebraska along the Missouri River, North America’s longest river. Half of Iowa’s 99 counties have declared states of emergency.

“That snowpack is still there and it’s going to keep melting, and that’s bad news,” Oravec said.

About an inch of rain is predicted for Saturday in the region, Oravec said. “It’s not a lot, but any precipitation is bad right now.”

Vice President Mike Pence toured some of Nebraska Tuesday and promised to help expedite federal help to the region.

FILE PHOTO: Homes sit in flood waters after leaving casualities and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, with waters yet to crest in parts of the U.S. midwest, in Peru, Nebraska, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Karen Dillon

FILE PHOTO: Homes sit in flood waters after leaving casualities and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, with waters yet to crest in parts of the U.S. midwest, in Peru, Nebraska, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Karen Dillon

Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin and Mississippi all declared states of emergency after the floods, which stemmed from a powerful winter hurricane last week. The flooding killed livestock, destroyed grains and soybeans in storage and cut off access to farms because of road and rail damage.

Authorities said they had rescued nearly 300 people in Nebraska alone, with some rivers continuing to rise. Rescuers could be seen in boats pulling pets from flooded homes. Some roadways crumbled to rubble and sections of others were submerged. In Hamburg, Iowa, floodwaters covered buildings.

$1 BILLION IN DAMAGE

Nebraska officials estimated flood damage for the state’s agriculture at more than $1 billion so far, according to Craig Head, vice president of issue management at the Nebraska Farm Bureau. Head said that was likely to grow as floodwaters recede.

“It’s really too early to know for sure how bad this is going to get. But one thing we do know: It’s catastrophic for farmers,” said Matt Perdue, government relations director for the National Farmers Union. “We’re hoping it’s only $1 billion, but that’s only a hope.”

Nebraska officials estimate the floods have also caused $553 million in damage to public infrastructure and other assets, and $89 million to privately owned assets, according to the state’s Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday.

The water covered about a third of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, home to the U.S. Strategic Command, whose responsibilities include defending against and responding to nuclear attacks.

The Army Corps of Engineers is distributing 400,000 sandbags to operators of 12 levees along the Missouri River in Missouri and Kansas that are threatened by flooding, the Army Corps said in a news release on Tuesday.

Roads leading to the Nebraska Public Power District’s Cooper nuclear plant near Brownville were engulfed by floodwaters from the Missouri, but the facility was still operating safely at full power on Tuesday.

The plant operator was flying staff members and supplies to the plant by helicopter, power district spokesman Mark Becker said.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; additional reporting by Karen Dillon in Brownville, Neb., Gina Cherelus in New York, Jarrett Renshaw in Philadelphia, P.J. Huffstutter and Mark Weinraub in Chicago and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; editing by Larry King)