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Old 06-22-2019, 02:51 PM   #1
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Dry BC Summer Alert

A heads up for people on BC’s coast this summer. Looks like it’s going to be another dry one, so don’t plan on water at many marinas.

The snow pack is almost gone from our lower mountains, about 3 months ahead of schedule.

Hemlock trees are dying from Kitimat to Hazelton.

Around Kitimat, Elderberry are dying.

Salmonberry bushes are dead on top but leafing out from the bottom.

Alder trees are dying.

Cedar trees are starting to die.

Too many years without fall monsoons, comparatively dry sunny winters, and brutal hot spells in early spring...
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Old 06-22-2019, 03:12 PM   #2
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Some photo's taken this spring.

First one shows dead Hemlock and dying Cedars. Second one is a dead Elderberry. Third one shows Salmonberry with dead tops leafing out from the bottom.

Been here 55 years and have never seen, or heard of this happening before.
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Old 06-22-2019, 04:56 PM   #3
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We are having the opposite problem of it is raining all the time here. The water level of our river which is the same level of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan has gone up 28” since Oct 2016. I have to keep rebuilding my steps up to the boat. 3 years ago we didn’t use steps to get on the boat.
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Old 06-22-2019, 06:54 PM   #4
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Murray, on the way down from AK last August, the Shearwater marina at Bella Bella had no potable water available on the docks, the only option being to carry jugs down from the store. We have a water maker, but the boats that didn't were in tough shape. I'd expect places like Klemtu and Hartley Bay to be similarly dry for transient boats this year as the summer progresses.
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Old 06-22-2019, 07:03 PM   #5
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We live in a rain forest ... without the rain.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:06 PM   #6
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Murray, on the way down from AK last August, the Shearwater marina at Bella Bella had no potable water available on the docks, the only option being to carry jugs down from the store. We have a water maker, but the boats that didn't were in tough shape. I'd expect places like Klemtu and Hartley Bay to be similarly dry for transient boats this year as the summer progresses.

We encountered the same situation at Shearwater. Particlarly acute as we had just cured a significant freshwater leak and were at minimum with a long southbound leg ahead. Diverted to Ocean Falls for a fill-up.


We'll be staying closer to civilization this year.
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Old 06-22-2019, 10:57 PM   #7
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If this year is like the last several, there shouldn’t be a problem with dead trees due to drought. They will just burn this summer. End of problem.
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Old 06-22-2019, 11:47 PM   #8
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Living in a pretty wild area, we have the option of filling up 6 gallon water containers from fast moving creeks, so never really run out of water

The change in our regional weather patterns has me concerned. We've had hot spells before, but nothing has died in appreciable numbers...you could scan a whole mountainside and see no dead trees, unless they were fully mature trees that died of old age and are now snags.

This spring, Hemlocks are dying in the thousands.

What's more unprecedented is that it's impacting such a wide range of species from evergreens, to deciduous trees, and berry bushes.

Salmon and bears probably won't like it much either...
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Old 06-23-2019, 09:44 AM   #9
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Murray, on the way down from AK last August, the Shearwater marina at Bella Bella had no potable water available on the docks, the only option being to carry jugs down from the store. We have a water maker, but the boats that didn't were in tough shape. I'd expect places like Klemtu and Hartley Bay to be similarly dry for transient boats this year as the summer progresses.
I've been in and out of Shearwater for a long time. Never knew them to have good water. For advertising purposes they claim they do. It has little to do with dry summers, zero mountain snow runoff as no mountains. Just some questionable tea colored rain filled lakes.

Once past Port McNeil - Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Ocean Falls, Klemtu, Hartley Bay and Kitimat have good water. Unless stopping for fuel, Klemtu is not too water friendly for cruisers. Their water system is top notch and monitored to standards.

We stopped at Klemtu a few days ago. Nice place and friendly people. Try to hit their dock near slack if a fishing boat or two are parked there.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:12 AM   #10
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I've been in and out of Shearwater for a long time. Never knew them to have good water. For advertising purposes they claim they do. It has little to do with dry summers, zero mountain snow runoff as no mountains. Just some questionable tea colored rain filled lakes.

Once past Port McNeil - Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Ocean Falls, Klemtu, Hartley Bay and Kitimat have good water. Unless stopping for fuel, Klemtu is not too water friendly for cruisers. Their water system is top notch and monitored to standards.

We stopped at Klemtu a few days ago. Nice place and friendly people. Try to hit their dock near slack if a fishing boat or two are parked there.
It has everything to do with low snow pack that doesn't last through till fall (on the mainland side of things) and dry summers.

Every spring, as the last of the snow melts from the fields around Kitimat, it smells something like a whole winters supply of dog crap thawing out. It only lasts a week or two and is caused by a bacteria which flourishes in the water saturated soil. Except for this year. It didn't happen at all. The soil is comparatively dry and soil under the rain forest canopy must be drier still.

I talked to a fellow last week (retired from Environment Canada and has also been noting the changing weather here) who said when he put in a new garden this year, the first 6 inches of glaciomarine clay layer was bone dry and rock hard. That’s never happened before either.

Kitimat and Hartley Bay shut off their water last summer...not sure about the other north coast marinas.

Time will tell, but things aren't looking too good.
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Old 06-23-2019, 10:42 AM   #11
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It has everything to do with low snow pack .
Denny Island's lousy water has little to do with snowpack. Just a few years ago Murray you were mentioning huge snowfalls in your neighborhood. Next year the Midwest farmers will likely bitching about drought and little barge movement due to low river levels. Cycles never end.
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Old 06-23-2019, 11:06 AM   #12
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Cycles don’t end, but the cycles seem to be changing.

The PO of my boat had a watermaker and ended up removing it because he found it was an unnecessary maintenance item as he and his wife never had a shortage of water when cruising as far North as the Broughtens. 350 gallons was plenty for them.

Now I am thinking that I may end up needing to add a watermaker again when I retire and can be out longer and go further.
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Old 06-23-2019, 11:07 AM   #13
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Dry BC Summer Alert

Very sorry to learn of this Murray. I won’t be up in the Central Coast this year, but it’s also as dry as a bone down here too.

Tom: in 2015, during a drought, I contacted Shearwater and asked them about the availability of their water and the dock master said there was no restrictions. So we went to the dock, stayed 3 days and when it came time to get water we learned that it was only available at one location and the hose was inadequate. Then the dock master said we were cut off! Damn, at the cost of staying there, and the misinformation, I was some kind of annoyed! We never stayed at the dock in Shearwater again. If they had said there were restrictions, that would be one thing, but we were mislead.

The water in Ocean Falls is much better and the dock rates are a fraction of the cost!

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Old 06-23-2019, 12:18 PM   #14
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We bypassed Shearwater this year. If we had a maintenance issue they have some good people. With no water, the docking need there seems more related to stopping to let guests and crew unwind.

It was raining hard when we passed by last week.
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Old 06-23-2019, 01:18 PM   #15
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Denny Island's lousy water has little to do with snowpack. Just a few years ago Murray you were mentioning huge snowfalls in your neighborhood. Next year the Midwest farmers will likely bitching about drought and little barge movement due to low river levels. Cycles never end.
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It has everything to do with low snow pack that doesn't last through till fall (on the mainland side of things) and dry summers.
Events in Nature rarely plot nice curves on a graph. I believe the events unfolding this spring are years in the making.

Yes, we had a record snowfall in 2015. This year the subalpine elevations had 4 feet when there should be 16 or more at winters end. I've had to dig down through snowbanks to enter a cabin in the alpine that we found from a hole where the stovepipe was. Snow was below the bottom window frames this year.

Talked to a Fisheries Officer a couple days ago. He said last summer the Kitimat River was the lowest it's ever been, and for a very short time, the highest he's ever seen.

The Skeena and Copper Rivers were both running green last year because all the snowpack was gone; there was little to no water coming from rain so all that was filling them was glacier runoff. You have to be from this area to know how startling that is!

My point is...if there had been a die-off of trees within the last 500 to 1000 years, the story would be told by dead standing trees in the forest (especially cedar which rot so slowly) and there are none. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What's happening now hasn't happened before, unless shown by historical tree ring analysis going back past the lifespan of the current old growth forest.

I hope I'm wrong and we get a month or more of rain.
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Old 06-23-2019, 02:28 PM   #16
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Murray,
A terrible thought occurred to me a few months ago.
What if the drought that caused the big fires in California kept creeping north? Would probably sooner or later get here and this is also a rain forest.
Get all those trees dry enough and we’d have a fire bigger than Calif did.
And nobody seems to know how this global climate change will play out.
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Old 06-23-2019, 02:43 PM   #17
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Murray,
A terrible thought occurred to me a few months ago.
What if the drought that caused the big fires in California kept creeping north? Would probably sooner or later get here and this is also a rain forest.
Get all those trees dry enough and we’d have a fire bigger than Calif did.
And nobody seems to know how this global climate change will play out.
Big fires to the north (Alberta)

Big fires to the south (California)

Some trees like Redwood and Ponderosa Pine need fires to come through so their cones will open. Our forest here burns occasionally, but in smaller patches, and the only species with cones which open with fire are Jack Pine which lay in the forest floor waiting to jump up after a mature Fir/Spruce/Cedar forest burns.

Back in the day (before Europeans turned up) First Nations people used to burn small areas every year; that way they wouldn't have to hunt over their whole territory, just the where the lush new growth was attracting game. We don't do that, because it would destroy revenue, so fuel builds up and catastrophic fires are the result.

If climate change is happening fastest near the poles, then it stands to reason its effects will be felt next in the temperate areas. Our dead and dying Hemlocks may be the gasping canaries in a coal mine.

Would love to be proven wrong.
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Old 06-23-2019, 03:01 PM   #18
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Murray,
A terrible thought occurred to me a few months ago.
What if the drought that caused the big fires in California kept creeping north? Would probably sooner or later get here and this is also a rain forest.
Get all those trees dry enough and we’d have a fire bigger than Calif did.
And nobody seems to know how this global climate change will play out.

I don't doubt, nor question the need for action, but the picture is more complex than you paint; isn't really about "creeping north". Canada and Alaska have long had larger wildfires than California, Oregon or Washington, but they seldom cause human tragedy and so go large!y unremarked .

Further, rainfall changes are anything but linear. Oregon had an extremely dry winter in '16/17, very heavy rainfall but subnormal snowpack in 17/18 and almost perfectly average precipitation this past winter, but our local ski area for their best season in several years.

California, after a couple dry decades had pretty good rainfall last year and a deluge in 18/19.
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Old 06-23-2019, 05:57 PM   #19
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Early June this year experienced rains between Ketchikan and Juneau. ... And who needs as much as 200 inches of rain a year?
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Old 06-23-2019, 06:06 PM   #20
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Regardless, Kittywakes appear to appear thriving along with humans in south-central Alaska.
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