Extreme Weather Watch: September 2015 – Fires Devastate Homes in California

by on October 13, 2015 · 0 comments

in Environment, History, World News

2,000 Homes and 200 Square Miles Up in Flames

weather5By John Lawrence

On September 13 California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Lake and Napa counties. He also had issued a state of emergency in Calaveras and Amador counties.

Four firefighters were injured in the fire called the Valley fire. Thousands fled as mandatory evacuations were ordered for the communities of Cobb, Middletown, Harbin Hot Springs and Big Canyon Road.

More than 1,300 people fled Middletown, north of San Francisco, as their homes were consumed by the flames. Main Street in Middletown burned up. 600 homes gone. More than 5,000 were without power. The Valley fire burned 40,000 acres in just 17 hours. On Sept. 13 it was reported that 1000 homes gone. As of October 5, the Valley fire was 99% contained. 1,958 structures were destroyed, 93 structures damaged.

A separate blaze — called the Valley Fire — in Lake County, about 170 miles to the northwest, has killed three people, destroyed nearly 600 homes and burned hundreds of other structures.

As of the middle of September, the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, about 70 miles east of Sacramento, had grown to 100 square miles. It had destroyed at least 85 residences and 50 outbuildings and threatens 6,150 homes. As of Sunday the 13th fire officials said a blaze that had destroyed more than 100 homes north of San Francisco had grown to 78 square miles.

The Butte fire claimed two deaths. The two killed by the Butte fire — 66-year-old Mark McCloud and 82-year-old Owen Goldsmith — died after rejecting orders from authorities to evacuate, Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynnette Round said. As of October 1, 475 residences, 343 outbuildings, 45 structures were burned or damaged in the Butte fire. It was 100% contained as of October 1.

Totals for California for the month of September 2015: 3914 homes and structures burned or damaged. Tens of thousands were forced to evacuate their homes.

Japan Floods Sept 13

Japan advised almost 3 million people to evacuate after heavy flooding killed seven people and left at least 15 missing in the eastern region of the country.

Seven people are now confirmed dead and 15 remain missing in the wake of torrential rains associated with former Tropical Storm Etau that dumped unprecedented rainfall on parts of eastern and northern Japan

At least 27 people have been injured across 10 prefectures since floods inundated parts of eastern Japan after a tropical storm, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said.

Up to 26 inches of rain fell in eastern Japan Sunday through Friday due to Tropical Storm Etau.

In Tochigi, more than 19 inches of rain fell in 24 hours in places, double the amount that normally falls there throughout the whole of September, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

The city of Joso, north of the capital, Tokyo, was hit by a wall of water after the Kinugawa River burst its banks. Helicopter rescue teams have been plucking people from rooftops. More than 100,000 were ordered to leave their homes.

Floods and landslides resulted in 8 dead, 46 injured.

The heavy rain caused additional leaks of radioactive water at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said rain had overwhelmed the site’s drainage pumps, sending hundreds of tons of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Workers at the Fukushima plant have had to store huge quantities of contaminated water used to cool melted fuel in three badly damaged reactors in thousands of steel tanks.

Flash Floods in Utah and Arizona Sept. 15

Zion National Park in Utah: Hours after they entered Keyhole Canyon, dark skies unleashed fierce rains that sent water surging through the chasm, sweeping seven people to their deaths. Rangers received a report of a group of seven individuals canyoneering in Keyhole Canyon shortly before the flooding began. Their unoccupied vehicles were located on Monday evening and a search began the morning of Tuesday, September 15, 2015 when it was determined that these individuals had not exited the canyon.

Twenty miles away, in the polygamous community of Hildale, an SUV and van carrying 16 women and children were swept away by one of the biggest flash floods locals had ever seen. Flash floods along the Utah-Arizona border engulfed the two vehicles and swept them into a waterway that is normally dry. Three victims survived, and one was transported to a hospital.

Flash flooding near the Utah-Arizona border claimed a death toll of 20 from the violent rainstorm.

Extreme Weather Has Killed Thousands in 2015

Poorer nations suffering from extreme weather disasters, so much so that their citizens are seeking refuge in safer terrains outside their borders, want rich nations like the United States to pay for reparations and to relocate populations.

Preparatory talks ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change to be held in Paris in December has representatives from developing nations asking for more than an already agreed upon $100 billion per year for climate change mitigation measures. They want additional compensation for weather-related disasters as well as a “displacement coordination facility” for refugees. And they want all this to be legally binding as part of the larger anticipated Paris accord.

The U.S. and wealthier nations in the European Union are balking.

Governor Brown Signs Climate Change Bill to Spur Renewable Energy

From the LA Times, October 7:

The legislation, SB 350 by Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), was amended to remove a third component that would have required reduced gasoline use on California roads. The battle over the controversial proposal dominated the closing weeks of the legislative session last month.

Despite ceding some ground in a tug-of-war with oil companies, Brown and De León have touted the remaining parts of the legislation as significant steps in California’s fight against climate change. …

The bill will require California to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030, up from the current target of 33% by 2020.

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