Wildfire Threat to Southern California Persists Despite Rainfall

Since the early months of 2017 California has faced a tremendous series of wildfires, the most devastating seen since the 1930's. So far, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has cataloged 8,336 fire incidents that have consumed 1,138,907 acres, with most of the damage occurring in the northern part of the state. Along with damage to the environment, the fires have also consumed nearly 9,000 structures and taken 42 lives.

Now that autumn has brought with it both a drop in temperatures and recent rain and even snowfall, many residents are hopeful that the weather will mean the end to the devastation. Unfortunately, state authorities are cautioning communities throughout the state that the risk of fires may persists for at least a little longer.

Scott McLean, the lead spokesperson for Cal Fire, warned residents this week that the threat of further California wildfires remains despite the recent rainfall. According to McLean, the threat will remain in effect for at least the next few months, with him further noting that there effectively is no predictable "fire season" for the state. Cal Fire itself participated in action against 6,405 of the fires in question, with these responsible for roughly half of all acreage destroyed in blazes. The department is in charge of providing fire protection to 31 million acres across the state, along with additional emergency services.

The problem began much earlier than 2017, stretching back about 2011 when a five year period of drought first faced the state. While 2016's winter brought on snowstorms that restored some much needed water to the environment, McLean noted that it will take several years of heavy snow and rainfall to restore forests to their pre-drought conditions. As far as the fires are concerned, the first warning signs came in 2014 when an unusual number of blazes hit some of the state's national forests. The affected parks included Los Angeles National Forest, Lassen National Forest, and areas near Humboldt County. All told the flair-up consumed around 3000 acres of forest, a far cry from the devastation of 2017.

Thankfully, it seems that further storms are on the way. National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Baruffaldi indicated that a growing storm system will bring further precipitation to the Lake Tahoe region, Donner Pass, and Echo Summit. With time, snowfall to these elevated regions will melt and bring much needed hydration to the surrounding forests and communities below.


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