Five Mile Swamp Fire in northwest Florida rages out of control, forcing evacuations and partial closure of Interstate 10
Annie Blanks and Jim Little, Pensacola News Journal•SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla. — Fueled by high winds and low humidity, a fire in northwest Florida raged out of control Wednesday, leading to evacuation orders for up to 1,100 residents.The Five Mile Swamp Fire, which began as a prescribed burn on private property Monday, was at 250 acres and 40% contained on Wednesday morning. But drought conditions and a northerly wind stoked the flames.”This is a significant fire event,” said Joe Zwierzchowski, spokesman for the Florida Forest Service. “Deteriorating weather conditions, changes in the wind, a strong north wind and extremely low humidity are allowing this fire to grow.”Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer and state fire marshal, tweeted Wednesday evening that the fire had grown to more than 2,000 acres. The Florida Forest Service and Santa Rosa County Emergency Management recommended evacuations for an area that includes about 1,100 residential structures. Late Wednesday, they expanded the evacuation area.Santa Rosa County spokeswoman Brandi Bates confirmed Wednesday evening that homes had been damaged by the fire, but could not provide details about the extent of the damage or the number of homes. She said that 336 homes were in the direct path of the fire as of 6:30 p.m.As crews responded to the fire, Florida Highway Patrol shut down portions of Interstate 10. Firefighters were using multiple helicopters to drop water over the fire and bulldozers to break up dt, creating a „ring” around the fire in an effort to stop its spread.“It’s similar to a farm plow that turns dirt up,” Zwierzchowski said of the bulldozers. “It separates the burning vegetation from the unburning vegetation.”Weather conditions created prime opportunity for the fire to grow, hampering efforts and creating problems for fire crews. A cold front moved through the area overnight Tuesday, and although temperatures didn’t change much, the humidity level plunged, according to the Jack Cullen, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mobile, Alabama.”We’re in the low 80s with a low humidity down in the 20s to upper teens, then you add strong northerly winds into the equation and that promotes fire growth and spread,” Cullen said. „That’s what’s causing problems for that wildfire.”
The low humidity could stick around until another cold front is expected to move through the area Friday, Cullen said.
„Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to produce a lot of rain,” Cullen said. „Rainfall amounts are probably going to be about a half an inch at the most or less.”
Although the low humidity may stick around, winds are expected to lighten on Thursday, which may help firefighters.
„We won’t have the strong winds like we’re having today,” Cullen said
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Florida blaze, dubbed Five Mile Swamp Fire, rages out of control
Your chance of surviving the new coronavirus may simply depend on the latitude of the country in which you’re currently living, one recent study suggests. When it comes to receiving a proper intake of vitamin D, a few degrees of latitude could be the difference between life or death when dealing with the severity of COVID-19, the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.
Vitamin D plays a critical role in preventing respiratory infections and boosting the immune system, and a study published by scientists in Ireland analyzed the correlation between vitamin D deficiency and the different mortality rates countries have seen in recent months.
Dr. Eamon Laird and Professor Rose Anne Kenny from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland drew a link between vitamin D and the severity of coronavirus impacts in Ireland, including mortality rate, in a recently published study that focused on the implications of vitamin D deficiency on the severity of COVID-19.
The researchers used the findings from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), which surveyed 8,172 community-dwelling adults aged 50 years and older in Ireland. Laird told AccuWeather that the most eye-opening results from the survey were the vitamin D deficiency rates among the most at-risk groups for COVID-19.
|In this Wednesday, April 29, 2020 photo a man walks in front of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)|
„I think the most shocking was the high rates of deficiency in the at-risk for COVID groups: high rates of deficiency in older adults [over 70 years old, and over 46% of whom are deficient]; the obese, those with chronic lung conditions, those with diabetes; and men,” Laird said in an email. „Very few actually took a vitamin D supplement — only 8.5% and we have no mandatory vitamin D food fortification in Ireland,” Laird added, noting that people living there experience insufficient sun exposure.
„When mortality per million is plotted against latitude, it can be seen that all countries that lie below 35 degrees North have relatively low mortality,” the editorial said. „Thirty‐five degrees North also happens to be the latitude above which people do not receive sufficient sunlight to retain adequate vitamin D levels during winter. This suggests a possible role for vitamin D in determining outcomes from COVID‐19.” Dublin, Ireland, for instance, sits at 53 degrees North latitude.
|This map shows where the the 35-degree North line of latitude runs across the continental U.S. (Google Earth / AccuWeather)|
In the United States, the 35-degree North latitude mark also separates many of the states that have had higher mortality rates from those with lower rates. While there are numerous outliers within more specific regions below the 35 N mark, such as in Los Angeles, Miami and Houston areas, the states with the highest deaths per million people are all clustered in the Northeast: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, per data from Statista.com as of May 4. New York City sits at 40.7 degrees N latitude.
Dr. Laird’s latitudinal observation held true throughout much of Europe and the rest of the world, as well. Farther north, mortality rates in European countries like Ireland, the U.K. and Sweden have outpaced more southern European countries like Greece and Bulgaria, according to ourworldindata.org. However, Laird uses outliers like Italy and Spain to point to the many different factors that affect transmission.
„With latitude, there are differences in climatic factors such as temperature, sunshine, pollution and humidity all of which could affect transmission of the virus,” he said. „In terms of vitamin D, in Europe the southern-most countries with the lowest vitamin D levels (Spain, Italy) seem to be more adversely affected than say Finland or Sweden which have much higher [vitamin D] levels due to mandatory vitamin D fortification. However, this is still only observational and we need a lot more data.”
Milan, one of the hardest-hit areas in Italy, sits at 45.4 degrees North — well south of Ireland but still 10 degrees north of the critical 35 N line of latitude.
|A map from ourworldindata.org shows the total COVID-19 deaths per million people for each European country. Southeastern European countries have fared far better than countries to the North and countries with Vitamin D fortified diets. (Map and data from Ourworldindata.org)|
The researchers’ work also analyzed how vitamin D deficiency in northern countries may stunt patients immune systems and lead to higher COVID-19 deaths.
The study compared not only the mortality rates of countries in the Northern Hemisphere with countries in the Southern Hemisphere, but it also analyzed the vitamin D levels of individuals from countries of different latitudes.
|A girl wears a mask to help protect herself from the new coronavirus, walks as the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea coastline, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, April 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)|
Many factors and theories have been floated by experts and pundits in recent months regarding the effect that different variables can have on the coronavirus, whether it’s temperature or humidity, sunlight or UV rays.
Other scientists have looked at latitude as an indicator that a certain location is more susceptible to the outbreak also but linked to average temperature rather than sunlight exposure and vitamin D.
The focus on vitamin D is broader, as Laird explained, due to the many benefits the vitamin provides.
Laird told AccuWeather that researchers still don’t know enough about the behavior of COVID-19 to determine its long-lasting effects, but he said that the vitamin D analysis could make for an interesting correlation between the seasonal flu and the novel coronavirus.
|Young Parisians look at a banner reading „Thanks” to honor the professional categories on the front line during a nationwide confinement to counter COVID-19, in Paris, Monday, April 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)|
„There is a correlation of low vitamin D during the flu season — this when there is not enough sunlight to make vitamin D during the winter,” he said.
As nations in the Southern Hemisphere leave their summer seasons, Laird said people of those countries are at some advantage due to a long period of vitamin D synthesis when the pandemic broke out.
„At the moment, the Southern Hemisphere is just entering their autumn and their vitamin D levels will be at their yearly highest. It is interesting that for instance Australia, New Zealand, etc. are now reporting few, if any, cases. However, we need a lot more information and data before we can say anything yet.”
One other big takeaway Laird and Kenny highlighted in the study is the benefit of boosted prevention against respiratory infections that vitamin D provides, according to research cited in their report.
„In a recent large cross-sectional clinical trial [ 18,883 tested] lower vitamin D [levels] were associated with higher respiratory infection rates and the effect was more pronounced in those with underlying lung conditions,” Laird told AccuWeather. „Thus, although vitamin D deficiency probably increases risk of upper respiratory viral infections, the size of this effect is small. It is the impact of vitamin D deficiency on cytokine response, and potentially therefore on lung injury, that is potentially much more important in the context of COVID-19.”
|A woman wears a mask as she crosses a street in Paris, Tuesday, May 5, 2020. France continues to be under an extended stay-at-home order until May 11 in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)|
Laird added that vitamin D supplementation has also been associated with a small reduction in the risk of pneumonia, a commonly fatal result of COVID-19 infections.
Conversely, vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with a plethora of concerns that all may increase the severity of COVID-19’s effects.
„Vitamin D deficiency has also been shown to correlate with hypertension, diabetes, obesity and ethnicity — all features associated with increased risk of severe COVID‐19,” the authors wrote in the editorial.
Professor Kenny told the college that she believes the connection between vitamin D and reduced infection risks is clear enough to encourage increased attention and new health measures during these times.
‘’We have evidence to support a role for vitamin D in the prevention of chest infections, particularly in older adults who have low levels,” she said in a statement through Trinity College Dublin.
„Though we do not know specifically of the role of vitamin D in COVID infections, given its wider implications for improving immune responses and clear evidence for bone and muscle health, those cocooning and other at-risk cohorts should ensure they have an adequate intake of vitamin D.”
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
|A crowd gathers to celebrate V-E Day at Piccadilly Circus in London, England, on May 8, 1945. The statue of Eros in the center of the square has been boarded up throughout the war for protection from bombing. (AP Photo)|
On May 8, 1945, the Daily Mirror in England published a weather forecast calling for rain and pointing out the „sudden warm snap of yesterday will not continue.”
Never has a country celebrated so wildly the inaccuracy of a weather forecast.
Of course, on that May 8, England also was rejoicing on V-E Day, Victory in Europe, signaling the end of World War II there. So people may have been celebrating that triumph instead of the flawed forecast, but nonetheless there was sun, temperatures in the mid-70s and the end of the nightmare of war.
May 8, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, the unconditional surrender of Germany after six years of war and the deaths of millions of soldiers and civilians worldwide.
Weather forecasts played a part in that victory. That forecast on May 8, 1945, was the first in six years as England tried to restrict any information that would help the Germans.
„For nearly six years the British people had been denied the traditional daily weather forecast in an attempt to prevent the Germans from gaining any useful information with regard to their own bombing and naval plans,” according to the book ‘The Day the War Ended’ by Martin Gilbert.
The Allies, on the other hand, previously had broken the German Enigma code used to encrypt communication, so they were able to access and use German weather observations.
„This gave Allied meteorologists a weather advantage – because they already controlled most of the Atlantic and the Allies knew the weather upstream over the Atlantic Ocean and across the United Kingdom,” said AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers.
By knowing the German weather conditions, Allied meteorologists gained enough extra information to advise General Dwight D. Eisenhower about the conditions for the planned D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
„The success of the Normandy landing and this whole mission, of course, helped Eisenhower’s career – and he later became President of the U.S. for two terms,” Myers said. „Superior knowledge of weather conditions and forecasting ability were the keys to a critical victory.”
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Stargazers of all ages will be able to take a few short steps outside this week to enjoy the final supermoon of the year — no telescope required. The only thing needed is cloud-free conditions from Mother Nature.
The full moon will rise on Wednesday evening shortly before sunset and glow all night long. It will officially become full at 6:45 a.m. EDT Thursday.
This will be the final in a series of four supermoons that began in early February, with one rising every month since then.
The term supermoon has become popularized in recent years to describe a full moon that falls near perigee, the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Earth. As a result, the moon appears slightly bigger and brighter than normal, although the difference may be tough to notice. While it may be a small difference, it can impact life on Earth.
„The supermoon plays a role in the tides and has a stronger influence than other full moons,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist David Samuhel said.
After this week, people around the globe will have to wait until April 27, 2021, for the next chance to spot a supermoon in the night sky.
|The full moon appears red as it burns through the haze as it rises behind the Jefferson Memorial in Washington Saturday night, May 18, 2019. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)|
In addition to being a supermoon, this week’s full moon has also earned the nickname Flower Moon, as it occurs during May, a month when flowers are blooming in abundance. This has led some to call this the ‘Super Flower Moon.’
The moon could even briefly take on the color of some blossoming flowers shortly after rising or moments before setting. When it appears just above horizon, the Earth’s atmosphere can make the moon appear yellow, pink or even red for a brief period of time.
„There’s one notable way in which the Moon’s appearance is actually different when it’s low in the sky,” NASA explained. „This happens because the Moon’s light travels a longer distance through the atmosphere. As it travels a longer path, more of the shorter, bluer wavelengths of light are scattered away, leaving more of the longer, redder wavelengths.”
Other nicknames for May’s full moon include the Mother’s Moon, the Milk Moon and the Corn Planting Moon, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
In addition to seeing the moon, stargazers may be able to spot a few meteors from the recent Eta Aquarids.
The meteor shower peaked earlier this week, but it could still bring a few shooting stars per hour, especially for those stargazers outside during the second half of the night.
People that are trying to look for meteors should try to focus on darker areas of the sky away from the bright moon, as the moonlight will make it harder to see many of the dimmer meteors.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
“Heat watches, warnings or advisories cover roughly 14 million in the Southwest, including Phoenix,” CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
Southwest temperatures could build to record high temperatures into Thursday with much of the area having been placed under an excessive heat warning.
While the deserts are used to excessive temperatures, the predicted heat in these states is unheard of for this time of year.
“Afternoon temperatures of 104 to 108 (40 to 42 Celsius) expected,” the National Weather Service in Phoenix said.
In Los Angeles, temperatures are set to surpass the expected mid-70s Fahrenheit (about 23 Celsius) usually expected for this time of year, possibly rising into the 80s and mid 90s (about 35 Celsius).
“In contrast the eastern US will see temperatures as cold as 25 to 30 degrees below normal over the next several days and into the weekend,” Mr Hennen said.
The meteorologist said that the areas could see the “coldest Mothers Day weekend in quite some time”.
“Temperatures on Mothers Day are likely to remain in the 40s across much of the northeast,” CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward noted.
Lots of the record lows are expected in different areas over the weekend from the Great Lakes and northeast all the way to the Gulf Coast.
Only a few areas that are closer to the coast will reach temperatures in the low 50s, according to the meteorologist.
These kinds of temperatures in the northeast are more reflective of the second weekend in March rather than May, the broadcaster said.
An unusually late taste of winter for this time of year across much of the eastern United States will leave major cities from Atlanta to Detroit to Boston colder than parts of Alaska this weekend. The upcoming cold snap, which will allow snow to accumulate in parts of the interior Northeast, will likely help with social distancing efforts, one week after residents across the East used the surge of warmth as a way to exercise, sunbathe or do basically anything to relieve cabin fever as a result of the ongoing shelter-in-place orders.
As cities such as Pittsburgh, Detroit and Buffalo challenge record lows, Fairbanks, Alaska, will approach 80 degrees Fahrenheit on Mother’s Day, which is about 20 degrees above the normal high for May 10. Farther south in The Last Frontier, it will be cooler in Anchorage over the weekend, but with temperatures in the low 60s, highs will still be about 4-5 degrees above average — and higher than some places in the Northeast.
A weather pattern more fitting of early March in the Northeast will lead to the likelihood of cold winds, damaging frosts and freezes, as well as unusually large swaths of accumulating snow and lake-effect snow for May.
|A storm with rain and snow is seen diving southward over the central Appalachians as a mass of clouds associated with the polar vortex spins near Hudson Bay in Canada on this Wednesday, May 6, 2020, satellite loop. (NOAA / GOES-East)|
„A lobe of the polar vortex will spin southward and loop around the Great Lakes and northeastern United States into next week before shifting farther northwest over Canada toward the middle of May,” Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather’s top long-range forecaster, said.
As the jet stream plunges across the eastern U.S., allowing the unusually cold weather to press southward, it is bulging northward in the West. An oppressive heat wave is affecting L.A., Phoenix and Las Vegas as warmth builds across the Pacific Northwest and up toward Alaska.
„What a pattern across the United States! Look at that big jet stream across the eastern U.S. Meanwhile, in the West, it’s totally opposite, polar opposite, where we’re looking at record warmth… It will be warmer in Alaska than it will be in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s something,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
Way too cold for May in the East
Even though strong May sunshine will work to negate some of the chill by day, where thick clouds linger and rain or snow falls, daytime temperatures can hover in the 30s to lower 40s F, which is about 20-30 degrees below normal in the Midwest and Northeast.
However, despite the warm May sun shining, some locations can still rival record low maximum temperatures as the air coming in is from the Arctic. Washington, D.C., will challenge a record low maximum temperature of 52 on Saturday — a mark that has stood since 1877. The 143-year-old record at stake in the nation’s capital is a testament to the magnitude of the frigid air coming into the region.
„Other places where low maximum temperature records could be set on Saturday include Hartford, Connecticut, Boston and Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania, to name a few,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said. The old low maximum temperature records are 45 in 1972, 45 in 1966 and 41 in 1947, respectively.
Where the wind is active and during cloudy intervals, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures can hover 10-20 degrees below the actual temperature during the daytime. It may feel like the temperature is in the 20s and 30s at times even during the midday hours.
Actual nighttime temperatures will dip into the 20s and lower 30s and will challenge record low levels for the date in portions of the Great Lakes, Ohio and Tennessee valleys and the central and northern Appalachians. The coldest nights will occur where the sky becomes clear for several hours and the wind drops off to allow the coldest air to collect near the ground.
AccuWeather meteorologists recommend covering your warm weather plants or bring potted plants indoors at night until the pattern eases up later next week.
„If a hard freeze or heavy frost occurs in portions of the Ohio Valley, central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic region, where buds have broken out, significant damage could occur to fruit trees, vineyards and berry farms,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins.
The surge in temperatures this past weekend may have been just enough to bring some vegetation out of dormancy across the northern tier. In a few extreme cases, temperatures could dip as low as the upper teens in the coldest spots across the northern locations this weekend.
Agricultural interests may need to implement every means possible, such as wind machines, smudge posts and sprinkler systems, to raise the temperature a few degrees around crops.
„Old-timers in the region typically don’t plant their tomatoes, peppers and other warm-season plants until around Memorial Day weekend to reduce the chance of frost or freeze damage,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek, adding that this is sound advice for this year in particular.
Farther south, record lows, short of frosty levels, in the 40s and 50s will be challenged on one or more nights from central Texas to the Carolina coast.
Not just one round of snow
Perhaps the wildest part of the weather pattern will be the multiple rounds of snow coming for some locations. Even though snow has fallen and accumulated in May in the past, those events are generally very small in areal coverage and are usually a „one and done” type of phenomenon.
In this case, multiple rounds of snow are in store, including snow falling over parts of Pennsylvania and New York state on Wednesday.
„The strongest storm in the bunch will spread a swath of snow from the central Appalachians to interior southern and central New England from Friday to early Saturday,” Rayno said.
Some snow is forecast to fall and accumulate from this storm from the mountains of West Virginia to eastern Maine. Anywhere from a few snowflakes mixed with rain to steady snow and a slushy accumulation on grassy areas can occur in the valleys and lower elevations in this corridor.
The exact track of the storm and where the heaviest band of precipitation occurs will be critical factors for total accumulation amounts. It must snow at quite a heavy rate to accumulate this late in the season. However, at elevations above 1,500 feet, a few inches of snow could pile up on grassy areas and roads over the ridges could become slushy and slippery for a time.
AccuWeather meteorologists are monitoring another storm with its sights set on the Upper Midwest on Sunday and the Northeast on Monday.
Even though the coldest air may pivot away ahead of the storm, the air may still be cold enough to allow snow or a mixture of rain and wet snow from the upper part of the Mississippi Valley and lower Great Lakes region to the central Appalachians and southern New England.
Lake-effect snow in May?
Following the storm-related snow to end this week, another unusual event will occur — lake-effect snow spanning Friday to Saturday. Usually during May, the water is too cold and the air not cold enough for lake-effect snowfall.
In this case, only 0.2 of a percent of the Great Lakes is covered by ice and the air is going to be cold enough to trigger bands of snow. Where strips of lake-effect snow and snow showers persist, a coating to a couple of inches can accumulate on grassy surfaces from portions of Michigan to northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York state.
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