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A humble shrub that heralds a terrible season of fire

A humble shrub that heralds a terrible season of fire


“I think the risk of forest fires this year will be as high as possible,” Swain added. “And that’s pretty disturbing considering what we finally saw a couple of years“.

2019 Kincade Fire It burned nearly 80,000 acres of San Francisco and by 2020, a rare summer storm he lit hundreds of fires blanket northern California among the smoke. “This year, with a lack of rain and years of drought and still dead fuel, California is still feeling the same, if not worse, fire season than we’ve ever seen. in the first year“, Says Jon Heggie, battalion chief of the California Department of Forest and Fire Protection, also known as CalFire.

When the vegetation is already so dry, unexpected fires can turn into big fires. But the worst fire season in the state usually doesn’t arrive until the fall, when seasonal winds are violated, as the fire affects it at a tremendous speed. That’s what made the 2018 Camp Fire so deadly: Winds he accelerated the conflict so fast in the dry vegetation so fast that many of the people of Paradise cannot escape. Eighty-five people were killed.

Photo: Bryant Baker

It’s a frustrating and often tragic aspect of predicting the probability of igniting and igniting science: Researchers like Clements may use chamise and atmospheric modeling to warn when the conditions will come for California to have an out-of-control fire, but they can’t say no it will explode. In 2018, Clement says dry fuel and projected rough winds told him the risk of fire was very high before Camp Fire. “I knew the day before it was going to be a bad fire,” he says. “We didn’t know where he would be.”

Later, Pacific Gas & Electric filed a lawsuit alleging involuntary manslaughter for the fire, its equipment he turned. According to Los Angeles Times, the utility had the option to turn off the public safety power or start the so-called PSPS to de-energize this equipment, but he did not do so. PG&E has been committed ever since improves That PSPS program.

Part of what informs PSPS decision it is a forecast of wind and humidity. But the other part is the chamise: PG&E bands are tasting a workshop in northern California. All of this data is included in the potential fire index or FPI that is calculated on a daily basis by company employees, forecast in all three provinces. “Our FPI is really sensitive to changes in direct fuel humidity,” says PG&E chief meteorologist Richard Bagley. “That’s how it’s very important for us to get that piece of the puzzle right.”

Climate change, of course, is complicating this puzzle, creating a California fire crisis worse. The rains are coming later this year, which means there is more time to light a fire in a landscape where the seasonal winds are dehydrating from spring. And in general, a warmer, drier environment absorbs more water from the plants. Chamise, therefore, is telling the story of a state struggling with climate change. “If you think about climate change and fires, it’s about fuel humidity,” Clements says. “We’re dry, so we’re getting more moisture out of these plants and we’re causing lower soil moisture.”

Clements adds that “fingerprints of climate change are” all over. “


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