It is hard to know just where to begin with this blog. I feel like we have been left too long in a sauna, and then thrown in a fire (a wee bit melodramatic) THERE ARE 2 Parts to this blog PRE JULY 1 and then July 1st. 2 stories.
We have just come out of a week of temperatures that we have never seen, and most of our country has never seen. All time records have been broken and in fact our little town likely broke an all time Canadian record temperature of 45 degree Celsius (113F). There is flooding in the north, because the glaciers are melting.
Sadly, a town 200 km from us, (Lytton) broke that record each of 3 subsequent days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and on Tuesday ( June 29th) the temperature of 49.5 C (121F) was felt to possibly be the hottest place on earth that day. Up here in the Great White North.
Sadly the following day, June 30th, the town burned down, the people had minutes to escape and at least 2 people died in that fire. Trying to imagine being at temperatures that high for that many days and then a fire. Lytton is a small town, adjacent to a First Nations reserve and both burned. I guess my feelings have been since the start of this heat wave that we should be making sure that the people on the reserves are OK, rather than looking for unmarked graves at the old residential schools, but I guess that is controversial. Let us above all …look after the living!
Meanwhile (over the past week) Ken and I were trying to keep our little farm watered, to save all of the plants/trees we had. We planted several trees this year trying to provide future shade and all of them seem to be shrivelling and dying. The garden we have been watering twice a day. The ground ROCK hard, hard to know how we will get all of those garlic out of the ground (pick ax). Our water is high in Iron, which seems to be plugging many of our watering lines.
We have been fortunate to receive several loads of fresh wood chips from a company pruning, trees in the area. Our ultimate goal is to cover our entire garden with at least a foot of wood chips. They hold in the moisture, decreasing the need for watering substantially. With a future of draught and increasing heat, having the ground covered keeps the ground cooler and more moist. We had gotten several rows of the garden covered with the chips before the heat became extremely intense last weekend.
So we have been getting loads of wood chips from these pruning guys, and then we have been taking the chips and distributing them with the tractor. I was telling the guy last week about the time in Oregon when we had some guys running our chipper, and they left the 4 wheeler next to the pile of chips and the tail pipe was touching the chips and I looked out and we had a huge fire, a 30 foot pile of brush was ablaze. Fortunately the fire dept came quickly and coastal oregon is nowheres near as hot and dry as it is here, and so they were able to put the fire out in an hour or so, and we watered the pile overnight.
So back to present time, he backed in with a load of new wood chips and into the remaining chips we had left over from last delivery. He was standing talking to Ken (getting ready to start to dump them) and I had gone to get some fresh garlic to give them for the wood chips and was running towards where they were and I saw the fire start in a matter of a minute where the tail pipe was touching the pile. FROM EXPERIENCE I started yelling, the guy moved the truck and Ken and I got the hoses going and quickly put out the fire. It was quite ironic, because it was SOOO hot that day and after this happened the guy said that he had been telling the crew today about what I had told him last week about the hot tail pipe.
Stories are always so much easier to tell, when they end well though. We have been able to keep the garden watered, but we have to be on it all the time. It is sort of like, I worked so hard to get all this stuff planted for future years, I am not about the lose them now, if only I could keep them watered for just one more day……We are lucky to have a well that has lots of water.
So about July 1st. THIS IS MY STORY OF JULY 1 2021 A few months ago I decided to have a party on July 1st, thinking that perhaps this year there might be fireworks on the lake and we could watch them from our high perch. GOODNESS SAKES WHAT A MISTAKE. I thought at the time that our covid vaccine would be lowering the numbers such that the province might open up on that day, and it would be a good day to visit with friends.
We were warned of an impending heat wave about a week before it happened. Although it DID look like the improved covid situation was leading to an opening up of the province, the friends whom I had invited were not relishing the idea of camping in RVs at very very hot temperatures.
We hunkered down indoors for the most part for several days with the extreme high temps, even put on the air conditioning, (which I never thought we would use.) It just seemed so unfair, to have finally gotten to a stage with Covid, after a year and a half… where things were opening up, and NOW THIS! It was right down to the actual day that the restrictions were lifted that the weather became unbearable.
June 30th came and I was chatting online with my sisters, worrying about all of them (scattered throughout BC), I thought we should connect. I have one sister who is a twitter whiz…. and while we were chatting she reported that Lytton was literally burning down. People were literally running for their lives. So very sad. My contribution to the chat is that I tend to follow radar, and was reporting to them a storm (thunder and lightening type) was sauntering its way up the province and might come close to Quesnel lake, where one of my sisters were at her cabin. (The storm did not really hit her area directly, but the following day one could see on the wildfire maps many new fires that had developed in the wake of that storm) It was quite isolated, just the one system, opening into a big system in the north of the province, and many subsequent fires.
So June 30th was the last day of the extreme heat. On a side note, Ken and I lived in Edmonton the summer of 1987, when we had had several days of extreme heat, each day followed by a thunderstorm, but after the last day, all looked quite normal, and then suddenly the biggest storm I had ever seen hit and turned out to be a massive tornado that hit Edmonton July 31 1987.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonton_tornado
I have always had a feeling that strong systems are followed by a strong disruption (my own interpretation of meteorological stuff) So I knew that something was going to happen, something big.
So back to July 1st. The weather was a bit cooler, things started to come together for a bit of a family get together. We had Talon for the day. His parents, Dylan and Sarah were there for dinner (and for the night). Our other son Josh and a friend were there as well.
Josh went outside and said he could hear thunder. So we all went out and sat and watched for the lightening. (it has been too hot to sit on patio for at least a week) Then it started to pour. So we sat out on our patio, under the overhang, the temp dropped gradually from 38 C down to 28 C in the course of an hour and Talon ran around in the rain barefooted. It was so much fun,.. I did not take any pictures. It was the happiest of the happiest evenings, Covid was over, the heat wave was over and it was raining. WOW, what more could I ask for? I had my whole family together, bliss.
Dylan even set us up with a firehose system. He explained that if we ever have to use it to haul the hose out BEFORE we turn the water on, as it is too heavy to haul when there is water in it. GOOD practical information, I guess that is why, in the movies, the firemen have several of them hauling the hose.
So I guess that is about when all hell broke loose. (Kamloops is the largest city near us 90,000, it is where I work and where both of our kids live and also where my sister, and many friends live, about 45 miles away)
Dylan, Sarah and Talon were spending the night, and Sarah and Talon had gone to bed, and Dylan was flipping through facebook messages on his phone. Suddenly he says Juniper has been hit by lightening and a fire has started …. and then Valleyview. (These are very large suburbs of Kamloops, coming our way from Kamloops, first is Juniper a VERY large suburb with only 1 way out of, THEN Valleyview and then Barnhartvale, which is where Dylan and Sarah live and have horses, dogs and cat (Barnhartvale is the closest to us) ). The pictures were being posted all over facebook, and they were frightening. Sarah immediately said that they had to go home because it looked like things were heading towards Barnhartvale. (very concerned with horses etc) The thunder and lightening that hit us with all the rain, was now hitting Kamloops with no rain and way more aggressively.
So everyone left, we were back to chatting with my sisters and reports are that there are at least 7 fires in and around Kamloops, all started by the lightening. Other suburbs… Aberdeen, Railley …..The thought of a city THAT large burning was just so disturbing. Dylan phoned, had not gotten home yet, but from where he was, Kamloops looked like it was glowing, and so asked us to come and help them evacuate. Livestock, horses and cattle etc are a real problem with fires and evacuation, where do you take them?
So we then assessed our vehicles, the electric car we had forgotten to plug in. Our Jeep we had not gotten gas in, thankfully Josh had borrowed it and saw then empty light was on, and put SOME gas in. We pondered which vehicle would be better to take….? GOOD QUESTION?
Our friends in Juniper has essentially 10 minutes to evacuate, and they hit the road before the police came door to door, many people in Juniper took 1.5 hours to get down to the highway. (a distance of about 2 miles)
I must say that the thought of several fires surrounding a city the size of Kamloops was very frightening. We opted for the Jeep and started down the road, waiting to hear from Dylan, wondering whether we should be doing anything. All reports were that the traffic was a nightmare with so many people evacuating different suburbs….. all culminating onto the highway. Josh was driving home and said it took forever to get through the city, in what is normally just a few minutes.
So Dylan got to his house and assessed that they were not in immediate danger and were going to get some stuff prepared, but it looked OK for the time being. We both agreed to phone each other if there was any need for help. We turned around, opting to stay out of a disaster area, and there was still lots of lightening at our place, so still not out of the woods (pun intended)
THEN … all of a sudden…. THE RAINS CAME TO KAMLOOPS, and it poured. …and poured. Not to underestimate the contributions of the fire departments, and they did an absolutely amazing job saving the city…I DO think Mother Nature chipped in BIG TIME. WHO knows WHY she would help us after all we have done to her?
So all of these fires became “under control”, and (at least in Kamloops) things settled down. The evacuation orders were even recinded in the middle of the night. Kamloops was already dealing with evacuees from other surrounding towns are risk.
So that is my story of July 1st, a very noteworthy day in my life. There are more fires around us, after the intense heat wave, so things are still concerning. AND we now have the smoke to deal with.
But, our numbers for Covid are very low now. Sadly BC has had 700 sudden deaths ever the past week, felt to be from the heat wave, and that is about half of the number of people who have died from Covid since the beginning of the pandemic.
Thanks for reading my blog, and much love to all
From Janet, Ken and Tucker.