Apr 29, 2021

California & West Predicted to See Another Historic Fire Season

California and the West may see another historic fire season following last year's record-breaking fire season.

fire and erosion control

California and the West are predicted to see another historic fire season.

This comes as California and the West are falling deeper into drought, reported The Washington Post. A tropical storm also sent a large amount of moisture up the coast from Mexico, exacerbating the heat wave, reported AccuWeather.

“All the indications are that we are heading into another really bad fire year,” said Safeeq Khan, assistant cooperative extension specialist of water and watershed sciences at the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, reported The Los Angeles Times.

In 2020 California saw rainfall deficits combined with extreme heat waves, which brought 5 of the 6 largest fires in modern state history. Approximately 4.2 million acres were torched, reported The Washington Post.

Dry lightning strikes sparked hundreds of fires in California as well, which were followed by a historic heat wave and fierce downslope winds, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Alternatively, there is debate that an extremely dry year could indicate Southern California will see fewer fires since flames are typically man-made into nearby shrublands or forests, said James Randerson, professor of earth system science at UC Irvine, reported The Los Angeles Times.

A late-January storm occurred, but the 2021 winter and spring months have not delivered normal precipitation. April is forecasted to be very dry and the current water year is now tied for the third driest on record, according to AccuWeather.

Dryness typically predicts a very active summer fire season in Western U.S. forests, according to Park Williams, bioclimatology and professor at UCLA, reported The Los Angeles Times.

Rising temperatures are causing more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow, according to the EPA.

“But in order to have fire you need more than just drought. You also need fuel to burn,” said Williams, reported The Los Angeles Times. “And so in grassland areas, the fire season might not actually be so bad because there’s not a lot of whole new grass to burn.”

According to weather models, the West may be dry through June and temperatures are likely to be above normal, said Heath Hockenberry, fire weather program manager for the National Weather Service, reported The Los Angeles Times.

Read related content about storm water & fire season: