Deadly Camp Fire Devastates Northern California (Credit: Washington Post/Fortune/The Weather Channel)
A home in Paradise, California ablaze by the flames of wildfire Camp Fire.
Credit: Copyright Getty Images: Picture by Justin Sullivan
The Camp Fire, a wildfire originating just north of Paradise, California, has been devastating northern California throughout the month of November, quickly becoming the most destructive and deadliest wildfire California has ever experienced. The severity of Camp Fire tops the prior deadliest wildfire in California, the Tubbs Fire, that nearly destroyed the city of Santa Rosa in October of 2017. Since the Camp Fire began at 6:30 AM on November 8th, the death toll had risen to 48 in only three days and nearly 200 people were missing, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. After spreading its explosive flames over 135,000 acres, the fire has been contained, as firefighters dug a trench surrounding the fire’s perimeter in order to prevent flames from spreading. In less than 24 hours, Camp Fire left homes, grocery stores, restaurants, and many other structures completely destroyed. Over 75,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, and many ended up losing their homes to the demolition of the roaring flames. According to National Public Radio, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea even stated that town officials requested over 100 National Guard troops to help search for more missing bodies. Within the past month, Camp Fire has gone on to completely devastate the town of Paradise.
The destruction left behind in Paradise, California by Camp Fire.
Credit: AP Photo/John Locher
Originating in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Camp Fire, along with many other wildfires in California, is common to this region due to the Santa Ana and the Diablo Winds. The Santa Ana and Diablo Winds are a weather event most common in the downslope region of the Sierra Nevada mountains during the fall and winter seasons. These strong downsloping winds originate from cool and dry airmasses located at the top of the mountains, usually associated with a high-pressure system. Initially, this surface high pressure system associated with cool air, diverging winds, and clockwise rotation, develops over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. These winds then flow down the slope of the mountains, compressing and thus warming as they descend, creating strong hot and dry winds. As these winds continue to flow eastward, they lower the relative humidity within the air and dry out the region. The winds may then flow through the canyons with gusts up to 40-50 mph, causing turbulent air and unpredictable conditions. Because California is already a relatively dry area, these hot dry winds are able to dry vegetation enough to spark wildfires in woodland areas, as well as increase the impact of already existing wildfires in areas nearby. The impact of the Santa Ana and Diablo Winds on wildfires in California can lead to even further rapid spreading of many future wildfires and increase their threat to Californians.
The severity of fire hazard zones across the state of California.
Credit: Copyright: Maps of the World
As of November 15th, at around 9:30 am, the Camp Fire had continued to spread and burn over a total of 140,000 acres in this short time, as the wildfire was still only 40 % contained. Now nearly a month later, the Camp Fire is contained after burning over 153,000 acres of land, destroying the town of Paradise and leaving a death toll of 81, a number greater than the death toll of the three past deadliest wildfires in California all combined. The surge of the Santa Ana and Diablo Winds is a powerful force over the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is important for residents of California to be aware and stay safe as future wildfires may continue to spiral out of control.
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©2018 Weather Forecaster Christina Talamo