Canadian Wildfires Make For An Interesting Summer
Most of my immediate family are from Canada, more specifically Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Summertime usually meant packing up the family car and heading north for a week-long vacation visiting our Canadian relatives. Summers were a bit cooler, and once in a great while we would run into a smokey haze created by wildfires in the Canadian north country. There isn’t much of a population base in those areas. It was explained to us that these fires would either burn themselves out, or Mother Nature would provide much needed precipitation to extinguish the fires.
A quick check of the Canadian Resources maps will give you valuable information as to why this year, 2013, is perhaps different from most of the previous years. First, most of Northwestern Canada is in a severe drought. Pretty much from the western edge of Saskatchewan north and west is labeled as severe, and the future does not look extremely optimistic that much is going to change, at least not very soon. Fires that are burning are slowly being contained, but the amount of effected forest area is massive. Record breaking according to my Canadian relatives.
Those of us who have endured previous smoke filled days have seen the likes of the ash and smoke from Mount St. Helens. During that eruption the smoke and ash were so thick that the streetlights turned on when it seemed almost like dusk in the middle of the afternoon. There have been fires in Montana that spread smoke eastward, across North Dakota and Minnesota. And then of course there have been other Canadian wildfire seasons that have filled our normally blue skies with white smoke, turning the sun orange and cooling the temperatures 10-15 degrees from what was, and is, normal.
So, what’s your point Mr. Wilson? All of us are struggling with the extreme air quality. Well, what I want to say, and hopefully those of you who have just arrived in Minot, or have even been here a couple of years, will buy into the statement that “It’s Normally Not Like This!” Really? Yes, really. Even when Mount St Helens erupted, we had a few days of extreme air quality, smoke filled skies and blotted out sun. But it started to improve, and the source of the smoke and ash, Mount St. Helens, was monitored closely and we could see that there was an end in sight. After about 30 days of smoke clouds from Canada, it does not appear that there is an end in sight for the smoke that has certainly affected our summer.
So on to my second point. My main job is not convincing new arriving citizens and tourists that this (the smokey condition) is not normal. Still, I was at Visit Minot just the other day and heard a visitor ask how far south the smoke went, because they just may alter their vacation and head to Bismarck. I was almost ready to join in the conversation and let them know that we encountered the present smokey conditions all the way to the Black Hills. But the young lady at the desk, who obviously had fielded many questions about the current situation, did a great job explaining that atmospheric conditions like wind, humidity and temperature greatly affected the amount of smoke, and the area that the smoke would affect. And then she said “you know, it’s normally not like this. North Dakota has the most beautiful blue skies with beautiful sunsets.”
Let’s hope and pray that conditions change in Canada, and the wildfires are soon contained. You can imagine what it is like living much closer to these fires. And when asked, remember, “It’s normally not this bad.” Say it with conviction folks, because it certainly is the truth.
Best Kept Secrets
Have you taken your kids golfing at Jack Hoeven Wee Links Golf Course? We were able to ride bike along the dike that runs between the river and the course, and it looks absolutely perfect for a round of golf with your kids (or in my case grandkids). On my tours I tout Jack Hoeven Wee Links as one of the only courses of its kind in North Dakota.
Trust is a vital part of a successful marriage. So is having your spouse’s cellphone password