The Stream, May 5, 2020: Northern California Faces Above-Normal Wildfire Risk This Summer, Fire Agency Warns

The Global Rundown

Drought in northern California increases the likelihood of an early start to wildfire season. More than 75,000 people were evacuated over the weekend in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan following a dam burst. The coal industries of New South Wales and Queensland, Australia, use a similar amount of water to all the households in Sydney each year, according to a study by the University of Adelaide. Water levels in Germany’s Rhine River recover somewhat, but are still too shallow in some areas to conduct normal shipping operations. Nearly 2,000 families in Kenya lose their homes as the River Nzoia overflows. 

“It’s been flooding for three days now. I think the government is not even aware, but now we are telling them. We are asking them if there are any plans to assist us, only two boats are here for evacuating people.” –Vincent Ochieng, one of the residents affected by flooding in western Kenya, which forced more than 1,800 people from their homes when the River Nzoia burst its banks. Flooding has hit other parts of the country as well, leaving a total of 116 people dead. Al Jazeera

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

HotSpots H2O: Tracking Covid-19 Cases in the World’s Most Vulnerable CountriesThe number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in countries identified as priorities in the humanitarian response to the coronavirus pandemic has surpassed 30,000, according to data collected by ReliefWeb, an online hub for international aid work. 

What’s Up With Water – May 4, 2020 — This week’s edition of What’s Up With Water includes coverage on current conditions in Australia and low water levels on Germany’s Rhine and Argentina’s Iguazu River.

By The Numbers

383 billion liters per year Amount of water used by the coal industry in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia, according to data compiled by the University of Adelaide. The amount is roughly equivalent to the water use of all households in the city of Sydney, or about 5.2 million people. The Guardian

70,000 People evacuated from the banks of the Syr Darya river in Uzbekistan after a reservoir dam burst on May 1. The dam break also affected residents in bordering Kazakhstan, where around 5,400 people were also evacuated. Uzbek authorities say they are working to divert the excess water to a nearby lake. The New York Times

Science, Studies, and Reports

The U.S. National Interagency Fire Center is predicting a possible early start to wildfire season in northern California, which is currently experiencing warm, dry conditions. The agency warns that there is above-average potential for large wildfires to strike the region by midsummer. The San Diego Union-Tribune 

In context: After Paradise Burned

On the Radar

After heavy rainfall in parts of Germany, water levels in the Rhine River have largely recovered from recent lows. Despite the boost in water levels, some northern sections of the river are still too shallow for ships to sail with normal cargo loads. Reuters

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