News/Op-Ed: California’s 2021 Fire Season May Be More Detrimental Than That Of The Previous Year
by Andrew Fierro
As the peak of California wildfire season approaches, more and more fires are appearing across the state, deeming the use of red flag warnings in what appears to be an even worse fire season than 2020.
After an intense wildfire season in 2020, the state was hoping for a better year in terms of land burned, though sadly since the beginning of the year, the state has been off to a fiery start. Since January first there has been more than 20 square miles of land burned in over 1,950 fires. In 2020 there was only 3 square miles of burning during the same time frame.
Though during 2020, which was the largest wildfire season in state history, there were over 6,390 square miles burnt with over 10,431 wildfires. This season was detrimental not only to the environment that the state lives in but also to the people in it. There was loss of houses, jobs, and even family members. 2020 was the year that recorded five of the state’s largest wildfires.
With all of the harsh conditions that the wildfire season of 2020 caused, people are fearful of what will happen in 2021 with the fire season already off to a hot start. Especially with the state in a drought and a two year long rain deficit, this fire season has all of the right ingredients to flare up.
Due to this drought that has been going on for sometime in California, places that usually aren’t as vulnerable to catching fire are now at risk of flames. Though it is not a coincidence that the fire season is getting worse year after year with studies from the University of California, Irvine proclaimed that the fire season was continuously becoming worse due to climate change and an increased risk in human-caused fires.
It has also been reported that the wildfire season has lengthened over the years with the peak having shifted from once in the month of August to the month of July. This means that there is less preparation time for the state along with more time that the state has to deal with the fires.
With the 2021 wildfire approaching and fires already burning across the state, the state has started its preparations in fighting these fires to do their best to contain better than they have in the past.
Last year in 2020, the state saw a normal amount of precipitation, though that was met with hard hitting heat waves that resulted in the worst fire season in state history. For 2021, there was a dry April and a very disappointing rain season as a whole which is contributing to the early start in highly dangerous wildfires.
Due to less rain, there are more dead plants that act as the fuel for the fires which will only become faster to start and longer lasting than any year previous. This is also seen in the Sierra Mountains with snowfall at 50 percent less than normal and is already off to an early melting period which will result in an area that is more prone to burn while leaving a significantly heavier impact on the climate around the area.
Though this seems like a horrible year for California’s weather, without change, this may be California’s new normal as the state see’s worse and worse rain seasons each year which are continuously met with harsh heat waves which are the base of the wildfires that cause such travesty.