Rainy winters do not arrive to reduce fire risk in California

Rainy winters do not arrive to reduce fire risk in California Firemen watch the side of a burning hill in Lakeport, California (USA). EFE / Archive

 Los Angeles, .- The rainy winters no longer mean a decrease in the risk of the dangerous forest fires that in the last years have devastated California, according to an investigation released today.

The study, conducted by several universities including the Arizona State University, ensures that despite the large amount of rain and the low temperatures of the current winter in the region, the Golden State remains vulnerable to fires due to the precarious environmental conditions.

The researchers analyzed the North Pacific jet stream, which regulates the amount of rain in the winter and that from 1600 to 1903 had an attenuating effect on the forest fires of the Golden State.

Based on existing data and statistics, the researchers reconstructed the history of both air currents and fires in California.

Analysts noted that the inverse relationship between rain and fires began to weaken after 1904 and practically disappeared in 1977.

Similarly, “flammable materials resulting from decades of suppression of forest fires in the twentieth century, plus the increase in temperatures”, carry fires no matter how wet the previous winter, the report notes.

“The availability of humidity in California is still strongly linked to the position of the air stream, but the fire is no longer,” said Valerie Trouet, professor of dendrochronology – the study of the age of trees based on their rings of growth- of the University of Arizona and co-author of the report.

Trouet pointed out that the winter of 2016-2017, which was quite rainy, is a good example of the relationship between heavy rain and fewer fires no longer working.

This rainy winter was followed by large fires in 2017, including the so-called Tubbs in October and the so-called Thomas in December.

In these two fires, 24 people were killed and about 1,700 structures consumed by the flames, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Last year was the deadliest and most destructive in the recent history of the state, with more than 8,500 fires in California, which wiped out more than 750,000 hectares and killed more than a hundred people.

“It’s not just climate change or historic fire management: it’s really a combination of the two that creates the ‘perfect storm’ for California’s catastrophic fires,” Trouet concluded.

The research recommended that efforts to prevent and control fires in California focus on fuel elements, which make them voracious and very difficult to contain. (EFEUSA)


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