Short answer: No.
Longer answer: No, here’s the background: There are a number of reports floating around that are implying that satellite data is showing high Sulphur Dioxide emissions outside Wuhan, China,and that means they are secretly burning thousands of bodies. It’s being widely reported, especially on “alternative” news sites based on images from “windy.com”. Here one such image (screenshot from windy.com):
Well, it’s just not true.
It’s another bad fire season in California. Wait, you may ask, isn’t it fire season year round in Cali? It turns out no! There are two distinct fire seasons, with two different forcing factors. The Santa Anna wind driven fire season runs from October through April (winter/spring). The high winds can drive fires into a frenzy – such as is happening this weekend, where winds in California have been gusting into tropical storm levels. The second fire season, during the driest and hottest months of the summer, runs from June to September. So … May is nice sometimes.
Here is a satellite view of the Kincade fire as the sun comes up this morning (from GOES 17) … click to animate if you dare (it is big):
Labeled view … click to embiggen:
In all seriousness this is a bad situation. The Kincade fire, north of San Francisco, has over $10 Billion in property within a mile of the fires. The Getty fire near LA has another $15 Billion at risk; statewide the total is over $25 Billion of property at immediate risk, being within one mile of an active fire.
The weather isn’t by any means the most dangerous threat facing us. My guess is most folks think of Enki as a hurricane or weather research group. In fact, Hurricanes and Weather/Climate research is about 60% of Enki’s work right now. Geophysical hazards (Earthquakes, Tsunamis) are another 20% or so, and about 10% “anthropogenic” hazards like LNG or nuclear power incidents. But about 10% of Enki’s work is in the area of Foreign Policy and related issues (space, remote sensing, and open source intelligence) and impacts of WMD (nuclear mostly). While the WMD/Foreign Policy related work is the smallest percentile it has been in a long time, in many ways that field was the most important, as many of the techniques used in the other areas originated in that dark realm. I don’t often post about it for the obvious reasons, but also because unfortunately in modern day America it’s becoming increasingly hard to have a nuanced discussion about anything that touches on Politics. This blog actually started in the early 2000’s as “SatBlog”, and most of the posts were about monitoring disasters, including war zones, using satellite remote sensing. In may interest some of you that SatBlog broke several news stories during the Iraq invasion, including that the Iraqis had set the oil fields on fire.
This morning the Houthis rebels (with almost certain help from Iran) are alleged to have attacked multiple targets in Saudi Arabia, damaging several refineries and taking offline over half of Saudi oil production (there is reason to be skeptical of this narrative, but that is what the official sources say). The fires and smoke plumes are visible from space, as this MODIS quick look image shows …
If these facilities are heavily damaged or stay offline for long, it will have a ripple effect throughout the fragile world economy. And, of course, the inevitable retaliation will have consequences, and a spiral of violence is possible. Scary stuff.
The low pressure system NHC is watching continues to develop, and the odds of something spinning up later in the week (Tuesday -Thursday) are increasing. Here is what it looks like as the sun rises on Monday morning (12 November) …
NHC now give it a 50% chance of formation in the next 48 hours (through Tuesday), and a 90% chance in the next 5 days, so they are increasingly sure it will do something later in the week. The GFS lowtracker loses it, but the model has a low east of the Bahamas by Thursday, other models (such as the UK models) have it going into the Caribbean. As usual, with a weak, non-system, just identifying a center, much less predicting where it will go, is difficult. We may have more later today, but check back late tomorrow or Wednesday for a better picture of what it will do.
The situation in California is much clearer, and pretty bad. Weather the next few days is expected to be favorable for the fires to spread. Using satellite data, it seems that impacts are on the order of $20 Billion dollars so far – in other words, comparable to the hurricanes this year (Florence and Michael). Worse, there is over $100 Billion(!) of infrastructure within five miles of the active fires, which are not as of yet contained (one big fire is only 15% contained). So it may well get worse …
Generally, if you don’t see something here, it’s because there is no significant doom out there, but the last month there have been several disasters around the world (couple of earthquakes and typhoons) that while I’ve worked professionally, I haven’t been able to post about. As long time followers know, sometimes I get overwhelmed with work, not to mention family/personal stuff that people have to deal with from time to time, and while I try to do updates here for global events sometimes I just can’t get to it. Hopefully things will get back to normal soon, but no guarantees!
One of the research things I’m working on are economic risk assessments for wildland fires. Hopefully will be able to post a bit more on this soon, but meanwhile here is some data from the NASA and NOAA polar orbiters showing where the fires are in Southern California. Each little flame symbol represents a roughly 374 square meter (1230 foot on a side) square patch of land that the infrared sensor indicates is on fire …
Two shots at about 11z, left is from the Summer Solstice, the right is from this morning, the Fall Equinox. Yes, the earth really is round, is tilted! Click to embiggen (new window, 2500×5000 pixels).
OK, I guess I need to jump on the bandwagon and post a pic of the Saharan dust blowing over the Atlantic 😛 , so here is an image received by ground station this afternoon. I labeled the main stuff you can see – dust, more dust, and the tropical cyclone parts.
So why do we care about this? Well, for one thing, dust off of Africa can help suppress hurricane activity. There is a lot of research underway to try to better understand this …