California, literally and figuratively, is burning up

JUL 31, 2018 | 4:00 AM

Firefighters are battling 17 California wildfires which have burned more than 200,000 acres combined, sweeping across the state from Southern California to the Oregon border, reports the Los Angeles Times. Temperatures soared to 113 degrees in the Sacramento Valley, recording the hottest July on record when the Carr fire erupted last Thursday. The bone-dry land was poised to explode, and within a few hours, hundreds of structures were lost and six people killed.

The destruction adds to California’s worst wildfire year on record – dozens dead since October, with more than 10,000 structures lost from San Diego to Redding.

Why is this happening? California is facing extreme heat, the likes of which it has never seen in the modern historical record. In the past there has been some reluctance among scientists to cite climate change as a major factor in California’s worsening wildfires. Human-caused ignitions and homes being built ever closer to forests have played a large role. But the connection between rising temperatures in California and tinder-dry vegetation is becoming impossible to ignore, according to experts who study climate and wildfires.

The Carr fire is the most destructive of the 17 major blazes burning in Mendocino County, in the San Jacinto Mountains, and near Yosemite National Park. Authorities said they hope to gain more control over the Carr fire as temperatures gradually cool this week.

Making matters worse, nighttime temperatures generally are not dropping as low as they once did, meaning the chance of a blaze weakening overnight is reduced. California’s average summer minimum temperature was at a record high last year at 61.9 degrees, up from 56.5 degrees from the first year on record in 1895.

Related

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.