Thursday, 5 May 2016

Canadian city evacuated due to forest fires.

The city of Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta, Canada has ordered the evacuation of its entire population after it became clear that it could not be protected from wild fires sweeping across the region's forests. An initial evauaction order for 12 of the cities districts was issued at 5.00 pm on Tuesday 3 May 2016; this was upgraded to a total evacuation at 6.49 pm. There have been no reports of any casualties during the evacuation, though many former residents of the city have described alarming conditions during the evacuation, with trafic being forced to drive through areas where roads were surrounded by burning forest and/or buildings.

Cars evacuation Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, past burning trees. Jerome Garol/Huffington Post.

The fire has been linked to exceptionally warm and dry conditions in the forests of northeast Alberta. This is likely to be linked to 2015's El Niño conditions, which typically lead to warmer conditions in the Canadian West; the effects of such warmth are complex, and frequently lead to higher rainfall in coastal regions, but can cause drought in landlocked areas such as Alberta.

Predicted changes to North American weather patterns during an El Niño event. NWS/NCEP Climate Prediction Center/NOAA.

However the events have also been linked to exceptionally high temperatures this year, with April 2016 being the warmest April on record in the area and temperatures in May already reaching 32°C. Globally satellite data has suggested that April 2016 was the second warmest April ever recorded (behind April 1998 which had an average tempersture 0.78°C warmer), while January, Februaury and March were all the warmest ever recorded, surpassing previous records set by January, February and March 2015. This has been interpretted as evidence of (predicted) global warming cused by high - and rising - carbon dioxide levels in the Earth's Atmosphere, primarily caused by human activities such as burning fossil fuels, but likely to be raised further by problems such as burning forests.

See also... killed by Bear at Alberta oil sands site.                                                                 A worker was killed in an attack by a Bear at an oil sands excavation site operated by Suncor Oil, about 25 km north of Fort McMurray in Alberta Province, Canada, around mid-afternoon on Wednesday 7 May... River polluted by mine runoff. Communities along the Athabasca River in west-central Alberta, Canada, have been advised against drawing water from the river five days after the collapse of a wall containing a holding pit that held runoff from the... Midstream Canada charged over April 2011 Alberta oil spill.                                       The Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Board has filed charges against oil company Plains Midstream Canada over the April 2011 oil spill in Alberta State, days before the end of...
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