This year has been very bad because of California fires. Surpassing the old record, 2.3 million acres have burned in California till date.
The worst pandemic in a century is drawing attention all over the world, including California. But 2020 is becoming an Unforgettable year for wildfires in California alongside tackling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The state continues to burn and all the previous records continue to fall.
Wildfires in California:
Three of the four largest fires in the history of California are all burning at the same time, which is the most in any year since the modern records began. On Tuesday, 2.3 million acres had burned statewide, which is an area more than 20 times larger than the city of San Jose. Wildfires in California are occupying large areas with two months remaining in fire season.
There are power blackouts due to a record heatwave in recent days. To reduce the risk of downed power lines sparking more fires due to the dangerous windy conditions, PG&E shut off 172,000 customers, in advance, in 22 countries in the North Bay and the Sierra Nevada until today.
Gov. Gavin Newsom says “This is a challenging year”. He also says that it is historic in terms of magnitude, scope and consequence.
Three of the four massive fires in the greater Bay Area are still burning which began three weeks ago during lightning storms and finally the trio is near to containment. More than 80% is contained in most of the Lightning Complex fires.
The Creek fire in Sierra captured a large area of forests in the mountains east of Fresno, which had burned 143,929 acres with no containment observed till date. This situation is prompting the National Guard to rescue more than 200 people at night with the help of helicopter missions.
The Dolan Fire in Big Sur doubled in size from Monday to Tuesday occupying land more than 73,000 acres. The August Complex Fire in the Mendocino National Forest continued to grow occupying 356,312 acres of land with only 24% of containment seen till date.
This is a perfect storm of 5 factors which are causing the shocking series of infernos. Five main factors are a dry winter, the drought, lightning, heatwaves and climate change.
In California, the snowpack was 161% of historical-average last year which is why it ended up with a below-average fire. This year, on April 1, snowpack of the statewide Sierra was just 64% of its historical average. The situation of dry winter led to wildfires to take place, breaking the previous record.
According to aerial surveys, California’s historic drought left 147 million dead trees in the Sierra. This Woody vegetation helped the fires in exploring Ponderosa pine forests.
A series of summer storms blasted California with more than 14,000 lightning strikes and no rain, in mid-August. More than one-third of all the acres that have burned this year is only due to lightning storms.
A heatwave with 105 degrees was observed on the coast in Santa Cruz three weeks ago which made even more difficult in putting out fires.
Climate change from human activity also led to wildfires. According to a study in 2016 by scientists at Columbia University and the University of Idaho, the climate change nearly doubled the area that burned in forest fires in the American West from 1984 to 2015.