What the US Forest Service once characterized as a four-month-long fire season starting in late summer and early autumn now stretches into six to eight months of the year. Wildfires are starting earlier, burning more intensely and scorching swaths of land larger than ever before.
More than half of the 20 largest fires in California history burned in just the last four years.
More than 95% of the west remains mired in drought, with more than half of the region classified in extreme or exceptional conditions. It’s the most “expansive and intense” drought seen in this century, according to the US Drought Monitor.
“We are really concerned about what the fall is going to look like,” said AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist, Johnathan Porter. “It is hard to imagine it being any drier than it is now in southern California – it is a real extreme.”
“The trends that are driving this increase in fire risk, fire size, fire severity over time are continuing – that’s climate change.”