DISCUSSION: With Spring in full force and winter well behind us by nearly 3 months Californians have slowly seen the decrease in precipitation that once became a consistent being within their forecast in late 2016-early 2017. While the persistent rains brought greenery, decreasing drought conditions, and increase water levels in reservoirs, it also brought flooding, mass destruction to US Highway 1 in Big Sur due to landslides (leaving residents and businesses stranded amidst their busiest tourist months to come).
However, as we move into the summer months bringing mild weather, coastal fog it’s a real possibility that the inevitable drought will reappear in the state. Residents, scientists, and researchers alike share a common belief that the 5-year drought to have plagued the state isn’t necessarily over despite the unprecedented rain received in the past 8 months. With drought and persistent weather conditions that enhance drought, there is increase fire danger particularly as the state transitions into what are climatically drier months.
Often with fire related dangers the National Weather Service can predict such conditions that may be optimal for fire behavior. These include the issuance of a Red Flag Warning or a Fire Weather Watch.
According to the National Weather Service a Red Flag Warning indicates, “that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now,… or will shortly,” typically within the next 24 hours. While a Fire Weather Watch suggests that “weather conditions could result in critical fire weather conditions which are expected to develop in the next 12 to 48 hours, but not more than 72 hours.
CalFire has recently states its alerts to residents for the state as dry conditions linger in the state. Conditions that you may wish to be apprised of are low relative humidity, strong winds, and even lightning strikes, the combination of these can add fuel to warm dry conditions to allow for wildfires to thrive. Please visit CalFire for current fire weather warnings and watches, safety, prevention and more!
For enhanced information on fire weather do visit the National Weather Service for a variety of data displays.
For more information on local fire weather and drought conditions visit the Global Weather and Climate Center.
© Meteorologist Jessica Olsen