How Bad Could Fire Season Get? Emerald Fire Could Be Harbinger For Another Tough Year

The Emerald fire that broke out in the hills west of Laguna Beach on Thursday morning provided a brief scare for residents whose homes were threatened.

Within a few hours, firefighters appeared to be getting the blaze under greater control. But Orange County’s top fire official warned that wildfires burning this quickly near neighborhoods could be a harbinger of a bad fire season for Southern California, and for the entire state.

“If this is a sign of things to come, we’re in for a long year ahead,” said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy.

The 2021 fire season was historically disastrous for the Western United States.

Last August, the Dixie fire burned up nearly one million acres in Northern California, becoming the second largest fire in state history. At around the same time, Oregon saw one of its largest-ever fires too, with the Bootleg fire destroying around 400,000 acres.

In late December, the Marshall fire near Boulder, Colorado destroyed hundreds of homes in a matter of hours.

By then, storms were drenching much of California and burying some parts of the state in snow, adding to the mountain snow pack. That led to hopes for more wet weather and a healthy snow pack in early 2022. That has not been the case.

After a bone dry January, snow pack levels were nearly 10 percent below normal for much of California, according to the California Department of Water Resources. If the dry trend holds, California could be in for more of the same this year.

“This is going to be a critical next month and a half or so,” said Casey Oswant, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego.

“Depending on how much rain we get, that will determine how dry the fuels are going to be in the summer and fall…Especially in the past couple of years, we have not been getting a lot of rain.”

Oswant said the lack of wet weather, high temperatures and strong winds in 2022 so far are already looking similar to the last few years. Since 2015, what’s supposed to be the greater Los Angeles area’s rainy season each year has instead experienced higher than normal temperatures.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

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