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(CNN)California’s largest wildfire has destroyed multiple buildings and is threatening thousands more as the battle against the blaze stretched into its 12th day. Low moisture in vegetation and limited access in the remote area have hampered firefighters, officials said.
The fire, which began July 14, has destroyed 16 structures — residential, commercial and otherwise — Cal Fire officials said in an update Sunday. More than 10,700 structures in Butte and Plumas Counties are threatened.
The Dixie Fire remained active overnight, officials said. It “continues to burn in a remote area with limited access, and extended travel times with steep terrain are hampering control efforts.”
Flames consume a home as the Dixie Fire tears through the Indian Falls community in Plumas County.The fire crossed Highway 70 and Highway 89 on Saturday, forcing firefighters to protect the communities of Paxton and Indian Falls. Officials said a damage assessment team will survey the extent of structure damage once conditions are safer.”Extreme fire behavior is expected again today,” the update said.
The Dixie Fire has forced numerous evacuation orders, including along the west shore of Lake Almanor in Plumas County.Cindy Pierson, a resident of Quincy who’s been forced to evacuate, told CNN affiliate KCRA she was “very anxious” about the wildfire.”It’s scary,” said Pierson. She told the station she’d lived in Quincy for just three months. “I’ve never been through anything like this.”Residents wait for a trailer to evacuate horses at a ranch in Crescent Mills on July 24.”I want to come home as soon as possible, and I want there to be a home,” she said.Another resident, Henry Riel, said the fires meant residents had to be ever-vigilant, prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.”You pray that the wind goes the right way,” he said. “But when it turns you’ve just got to be prepared to move and get ready to go.”Wildfires burning in Northern California prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday to declare a state of emergency in four counties, allowing officials access to increased resources.A home burns as flames from the Dixie fire tear through the Indian Falls neighborhood on July 24.The declaration included Alpine, Lassen, Plumas and Butte counties, the latter of which was the site of the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history in 2018.The blaze is just one of 86 large wildfires — many of them in the West — burning more than 1.4 million acres across the country, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The Tamarack Fire is burning along the state’s border with Nevada and has scorched more than 66,000 acres, per InciWeb, a clearinghouse for wildfire information in the US. It’s 27% contained.On Sunday, officials announced the sheriff’s offices of Alpine and El Dorado Counties would begin escorting evacuated residents back into the area to retrieve pets and important papers, depending on the fire’s activity.
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(CNN)California’s Death Valley is known to be a hot place, but it hit 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 degrees Celsius) Friday for only the fifth time in recorded history — that’s only five days out of more than 40,000 days on record.Interestingly, it could happen again Sunday, and perhaps even Monday as well.The record for the number of consecutive days at 125 degrees or higher is 10, set in 1913 (June 28-July 5). This year, Death Valley hit 126 on July 7 and will likely continue that stretch of days with 125-plus temperatures through Tuesday. This would be eight straight days, which would be the second-longest streak in recorded history (tying eight days in 2013).
Grand Junction, Colorado, set a new all-time temperature record of 107 on Friday.
Las Vegas tied its all-time temperature record of 117 degrees on Saturday. Fresno, California, could also near its all-time temperature record of 115 degrees on Sunday.Enter your email to subscribe to the CNN Five Things Newsletter.close dialog
Last month was the hottest June on record for the lower 48 statesBut none of these quite compares to the staggering 130 in Death Valley — 13 degrees above normal.”An anomalously strong high pressure system overhead will remain overhead for multiple days,” said Chelsea Peters, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. “When the overnight low is warmer than the previous day’s and similar temperature trends are expected, the daytime high would likely end up being just as hot, or hotter than the previous day.”But as hot at 130 may be, it is not the hottest temperature ever for Death Valley — which is 134 degrees, set in 1913. That is also considered the official world record, but it is a bit of a controversial one.
The controversy behind the record
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is the governing body that determines formal weather records across the globe, as well as weather nomenclatures (such as naming tropical systems).Prior to 2013, the highest recorded temperature in the world was actually 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius), set in 1923 in Al Azizia, Libya. However, the WMO later determined the Libya measurement was faulty and officially de-certified it as the official all-time highest global temperature, giving that designation instead to the Death Valley temperature on July 10, 1913.A park ranger takes a picture of an unofficial thermometer at Furnace Creek Visitor Center in California’s Death Valley National Park on August 17, 2020, a day after the temperature had reached 130 degrees.However, there is speculation the 1913 Death Valley record may also be invalid due to faulty placement of the instrumentation. All official weather sensors used by the National Weather Service are strategically placed to avoid interference from direct sunlight, wind, trees or moisture.The record of 134 in Death Valley came in the middle of an abnormally intense heat wave that stretched from July 7-14, 1913. Maximum temperatures for that time period were 127, 128, 129, 134, 129, 130, 131 and 127, respectively.The WMO even has this on its website: “Some weather historians have questioned the accuracy of old temperature records. The WMO Archive for Weather & Climate Extremes is always willing to investigate any past extreme record when new credible evidence is presented.”Regardless of whether you agree with keeping the 1913 data, it is hot there right now. Not just during the day, but also at night. And intense heat at both times of the day is critical for safety.
The West is caught in a vicious climate change feedback loopDuration is also important, as is the time of year that the heat is occurring.”For example, a heat event in April with high temperatures of 107°F will probably warrant an Excessive Heat Warning, whereas 107°F in July is just a couple of degrees above normal, so we would be unlikely to issue anything,” Varian said.
The same thing happens at the end of the summer season, in August and September, even though people may think they’d be acclimated by then.”Actually, coroner’s reports show that there are more heat-related deaths and illnesses at the end of the summer than any other part, because your body is exhausted from fighting extreme heat all summer,” Varian said.
CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink contributed to this report.
A new heatwave is predicted to bring dangerously hot weather to California’s inland regions this week, as relentlessly high temperatures continue to torment the west coast.
Meteorologists are warning residents to prepare for “potentially record-breaking” temperatures as high as 115F (46C) in the Central Valleyand 120F (49C) in desert areas like Palm Springs, with temperatures in Death Valley set to approach an all-time high. The heat is predicted to start to build on Wednesday and increase through the weekend.
“Temperatures are going to be about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year,” said Diana Crofts-Pelayo a spokesperson for the California office of emergency services. “This will be a record-setting heatwave.”
The state is already facing extreme drought and fires spawned by the dry conditions. The fire situation could be intensified by gusty winds near the Oregon border and predicted lightning storms in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the forecasters said.Advertisement
“The big story is the developing heat,” said Eric Schoening, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service (NWS). “This will be a long duration event, where it is not going to cool down much at night. So it is a dangerous time for the state.”
The warnings follow on the heels of last week’s record-setting heatwave in the normally-cool Pacific north-west, which left hundreds dead in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia from heat-related illness, and as North America emerges from the hottest June on record.
The fact that California’s heat is expected to continue at night raises the risks of heat illness, said Sierra Littlefield, an NWS meteorologist.
“When it’s hot in the day and warm at night, it really wears people down,” she said.
Littlefield said residents should prepare themselves to cope with the heat by drinking plenty of water, postponing outdoor work to the early mornings or evenings and making sure to get animals out of the sun. Residents should plan for a place to go, if it gets so hot they need air conditioning.
“People should know where they can find air conditioning – whether it’s with friends or at a cooling center,” she said.
Forecasters said that those in the biggest population centers of the state, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, which lie along the coast, will benefit from ocean cooling and not face the extra high temperatures.
One danger state officials are still assessing is whether the heatwave could result in power shortages, said Crofts-Pelayo.
She advised residents in the inland areas to pre-cool their homes, if they have air conditioning, and lower their shades to keep the cool air in. She also asked residents statewide to conserve electricity by shutting off unnecessary appliances.
“What we don’t want is for there to be a shortage of energy that requires power shutdowns,” she said.
One of the fastest-warming regions of the U.S. is the Southwest — and that region, plus the broader West, is stuck in its most expansive and intense drought of the 21st century.
Why it matters: Studies show that a warming climate is exacerbating the drought, and in some ways may be triggering it in the first place. That means the Southwest is drying out — and California’s large wildfires could start as soon as next month.
And one climate researcher says California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains saw one of the fastest snow melt-outs in history this year.
The drought situation is particularly severe in the Colorado River Basin and northern California. Scientists and public officials are warning that the California wildfire season is likely to be severe, due to the combination of dry vegetation and above-average temperatures.
This one comes on the heels of the worst fire season in state history, which turned the skies above San Francisco a “Blade Runner” orange last year.
The big picture: Some parts of the world are already getting close to, or have slipped beyond, the Paris agreement’stemperature limit thatscientists warned about in a report last week.
As Earth’s temperatures tick upwards, closer to the Paris guardrail of 1.5°C (2.7°F) above preindustrial levels, some parts of the world are already warming by much greater amounts, from the Southwestern U.S. to the Arctic. These areas are seeing destructive impacts that are mounting.
Details: California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains show what climate change can do as it worsens. The mountain snowpack, which provides 30% of the state’s water supply annually, has vanished about two months ahead of schedule.
Water runoff from snow melt has been paltry, and major reservoirs like Lake Oroville are running even lower than they did during the record drought from 2012-2016.
Climate change is playing a key role in the drought, by boosting temperatures and increasing the loss of water to the atmosphere. Much of the snow went directly from frozen form back into the air, rather than melting into runoff.
Warming is also thought to be leading to increasing chances of dry fall seasons in the Golden State and shortened rainy seasons, according to Daniel Swain, a climate researcher at UCLA and the Nature Conservancy.
Craig Clements, who studies wildfires at San Jose State University, warns that large wildfires typically not seen until late summer in California could occur this year as early as June. Vegetation is at near record dry levels for this time of year, he said.
“We are starting off in a more dire situation than we typically would for June,” Clements told Axios.
Context: The worsening drought and potentially devastating wildfire season is not an isolated occurrence for California and other Southwestern states.
Climate studies have consistently shown that as the world continues to warm, the Southwest will become drier and hotter. This is worrisome, given the likelihood of increased stress on water resources amid a population boom in states such as Arizona and Nevada.
Although it’s interspersed with short intervals of wetter years, parts of the West, including California, are suffering through an emerging, human-caused “megadrought” that began in 2000.
Studies show this drought, measured using soil moisture data and tree rings, is the second-worst in the past 1,200 years.
What they’re saying: “This current drought has quickly accelerated, and is now on par (if not worse) than the extreme and in some cases record-breaking drought that occurred just 5 years ago in California,” Swain said.
What’s next: If the world does not steeply reduce greenhouse gas emissions starting in this decade, more areas will warm to near or above the Paris limits, until the global average arrives at that level as well.
This threatens to unleash catastrophic impacts, such as the melting of parts of the Antarctic Ice Sheet.
For now, the drought and likely severe wildfire season in the West offer an unfortunate preview of what may come next.
Nearly a century ago, the people who built Hoover Dam on the Colorado River were “inspired by a vision of lonely lands made fruitful,” as the inscription at the base of the flagpole on the Nevada side puts it. They could not know they were living in what would prove to be the wettest century of the past millennium in the American West.
We sure know that now. The “megadrought” that began right at the turn of the 21st century is still going on, and this year is shaping up to be a bad one, in part due to climate change, Alejandra Borundawrites for Nat Geo.
Most of California was declared under drought emergency Monday, mainly because the snowpack that Californians depend on to help tide them through summer is at 15 percent of its average for this time of year (pictured above, Lake Oroville, at 42 percent capacity in late April). Most of the Colorado River Basin is in a state of “exceptional” drought. Lake Mead, the reservoir behind Hoover, has fallen more than 130 feet since 2000. It’s nearing the level at which water managers would have to declare an official shortage for the first time—and start limiting releases from the lake.
When I visited Hoover for a 2008 Nat Geo feature—the drought was already worrisome then—I met a man named Terry Fulp, who managed releases from Lake Mead for the federal Bureau of Reclamation. We talked about how the water had been too cheap for too long. “Our job was to entice people to move to the West, and we did a darn good job,” Fulp said. When we spoke, though, he was focused on a different job—negotiating the shortage rules that may soon kick in, depending on how the summer goes. They could cause Arizona, for example, to receive about 166 billion gallons less of Colorado River water next year.
Judging from tree rings, today’s megadrought is the second worst in 1,200 years, Borunda writes. It’s worse than the one that, in the 13th century, led Ancestral Pueblo people to abandon the famous cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. There’s no mass flight out of the West so far: In most Colorado River Basin states, the population is growing faster than the national average, according to the latest census figures.
Accommodating all those folks in an era of climate change is going to take major adjustments, but we have tools today that weren’t available to the Ancestral Puebloans. People are already taking steps to adapt (see box below). We need the same kind of optimistic self-confidence as the builders of Hoover Dam, but a different vision: a vision of arid lands kept livable.
A juvenile sea lion sick with a blood infection known as leptospirosis lays in an enclosure at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, U.S., May 8, 2021. (Photo/VCG)
Parts of the sea areas near the coast of California have been seriously polluted. Due to the long-term waste dumping, the ecological environment of the sea area has been seriously affected. One in five California adult sea lions have died from cancers, with pollutants such as pesticides playing a significant role.Previous
10-May-2021Soaring sea lion cancer linked to DDT dumping off California’s coastCGTN
A juvenile sea lion sick with a blood infection known as leptospirosis lays in an enclosure at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, May 08, 2021 in /CFP
Sea lions in California are facing a surge in cancer cases that are potentially linked to thousands of barrels of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), a banned insecticide, that were dumped in the Pacific Ocean off the Southern California coast decades ago.
A research vessel from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego recently discovered and photographed over 27,000 barrels possibly containing the toxic substance DDT on the seafloor between Santa Catalina Island and the Los Angeles coast.
A Marine Mammal Center veterinarian staff takes care of a sick juvenile sea during an examination in Sausalito, California, May 8, 2021. /CFP
A recent study conducted by the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, has found that approximately one in five California adult sea lions have died from cancer developed from a herpes virus in sea lions.
Another study led by the same team showed that pollutants such as Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), man-made industrial chemicals, and DDT play a significant role as co-factors in the development of this cancer. This is particularly relevant to Southern California, where most of the sea lion population gathers each year to breed.
Veterinarian staff examine a sea lion cancer sufferer that was euthanized at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, May 8, 2021. /CFP
Marine mammals nurse their young and live relatively long lives, like humans. They accumulate toxins in their blubber and are sickened by the same kinds of viruses that affect humans.
Intern veterinarian Michelle Rivard performs an ultrasound on a sick juvenile sea lion at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California, May 08, 2021. /CFP
“It is extraordinary, the level of pollutants in these animals in California. It is a big factor in why we’re seeing this level of cancer,” said Padraig Duignan, chief pathologist at the Marine Mammal Center and a co-author of the study.
“With all the dumping since the Second World War, right up to the 1970s, that’s a lot of stuff out there,” Duignan said. “These legacy chemicals haven’t broken down anything appreciable in intervening years, and nobody knows if they ever will. This is something that they’re going to have to be exposed to for who knows how long.”
Intern veterinarian Michelle Rivard (R) and resident veterinarian Megan Cabot (L) perform an ultrasound on a sea lion that was euthanized at The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California after veterinarians found signs of cancer, May 8, 2021. /CFP
The Marine Mammal Center is the world’s largest marine mammal hospital. Since cancer in sea lions was first discovered in 1979, researchers have found that between 18-23 percent of adult sea lions admitted to the Center’s hospital have died of the fatal disease.
(With input from AP. All photos via CFP.)
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
In our monthly feature, Then and Now, we reveal some of the ways that planet Earth has been changing against the backdrop of a warming world. Here, we look at the effects of extreme weather on a crucial reservoir that supplies water to millions of people in northern California.
Lake Oroville plays a key role in California’s complex water delivery system.
Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville, California
Drag button to see how extreme drought has affected lake
This 65km-square body of water north of Sacramento is the second-largest reservoir in California.
Not only does Lake Oroville store water, it helps control flooding elsewhere in the region, assists with the maintenance of water quality and boosts the health of fisheries downstream.
In 2014, more than 80% of California was in the grip of an “extreme drought”. Against this backdrop, Oroville’s capacity fell to 30% – a historic low level.
As the water level receded to hundreds of feet below normal levels, ramps and roads no longer reached the water’s edge.
More worryingly, the reservoir – when full – provided enough water for an estimated seven million households, as well as providing power for hydroelectricity facilities and irrigation for agricultural land.
The dry conditions didn’t start in 2014, however, there had been a drought for years prior to Oroville recording its historic low level.
Indeed, the US space agency’s Earth Observatory had warned that the multi-year drought was having a wider impact on the region. Among its effects was a contribution to “unusually active and destructive” fire seasons and poor yields from agricultural land.
“There is strong evidence from climate models and centuries of tree ring data that suggest about one-third to one-half of the severity of the current drought can be attributed to climate change,” observed Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist from Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.
Agency scientists added that the data suggested a “megadrought” might already be underway in this region – and that it could last for decades.
The latest update from the US Drought Monitor in December 2020, showed that much of the country’s western states were gripped by extreme or exceptional drought, with Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, Colorado and western Texas being the worst affected.
The Drought Monitor releases maps showing the parts of the country with prolonged shortages in the water supply. It is produced jointly by the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
From one extreme…
Climate change is not just about a warmer world, it also means that the planet will see more extreme environmental conditions and weather. So, for example, episodes of flooding will increase, as well as episodes of droughts.
Lake Oroville was a perfect illustration of how these extremes can threaten our existing infrastructure.
While the lake’s levels reached a historic low in 2014, the reservoir’s vast embankment dam – the tallest in the US – was pushed to breaking point in February 2017.
Communities downstream had been evacuated, with more than 100,000 people being ordered to leave their homes.
Officials were struggling to allow water to flow out of the lake because the main spillway – a structure that provides controlled releases of water – and the emergency spillway had been eroded and damaged.
Yet they had to continue sending water down the valley because the reservoir was reaching capacity and there was a sense that there could be a “catastrophic failure” in the structure.
In the space of two years, the lake went from an unprecedented low to a capacity that had not been experienced before. Water cascaded over the emergency spillways, which had not previously been required.
Traditionally, the lake was replenished by meltwater from a thawing snowpack in surrounding mountains, whose river systems fed the reservoir. June was the month when the reservoir was expected to reach its yearly maximum level.
However, in 2017, it was rain that caused the intense water flow. The reservoir had reached capacity in February, rather than the middle of the year, as usually happened.
Scientists again suggested that the event fitted into the paradigm of a warming world.
Speaking at the time to the Guardian newspaper, Prof Roger Bale, from the University of California Merced, explained: “With a warmer climate, we get these winter storms, which dump rain rather than snow.”
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said that the “frequency and intensity of droughts, storms and extreme weather events are increasingly likely above 1.5C (above pre-industrial levels)”.
Failure to keep the global average temperature rise to below 1.5C, as outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, is likely to result in more of the world’s reservoirs or flood defences being tested to breaking point.
This is a stark warning for world leaders, who will be gathering once again this year at the UN’s annual climate summit (COP26) – to be held in Glasgow.
The meeting, which had to be postponed by a year because of Covid, will seek to raise global ambition on tackling climate change – with a view to keeping temperature rise within the 1.5C limit.
Our Planet Then and Now will continue up to the UN climate summit in Glasgow, which is due to start in November 2021
And it’s not just the redwoods — giant sequoias and Joshua trees are also in trouble. These majestic trees are unique to the West Coast and are an integral part of the fabric of California’s storied landscape. But the experts who know and love these trees are genuinely worried about their future.
Last year, 4.2 million acres burned in California’s worst fire season on record. Scientists say as the climate warms these fires will grow bigger at an accelerating pace. And although the giant redwoods and sequoias have been historically resilient to natural wildfire, these unnaturally intense fires are starting to overwhelm their defenses, with fires reaching higher up into their crowns.PauseCurrent Time 0:10/Duration 4:18Loaded: 17.93%Unmute0LOCaptionsFullscreenCalifornia’s redwoods fight to survive after being scorched by wildfiresClick to expand
It is estimated that 10% of the ancient redwoods that burned during the 2020 fire season in places like the Big Basin Redwood State Park, 50 miles south of San Francisco, will die.
CBS News visited Big Basin State Park earlier this month and met with two longtime forest scientists, Todd Keeler-Wolf, a vegetation ecologist, and Joanne Kerbavaz, the senior scientist at Big Basin.
“This fire was on a scale and of an intensity that there are no records of fires that have been that big in this vicinity,” Kerbavaz said of the August fire which raged through almost the entire park, engulfing 18,000 acres.
It started as part of a lightning siege of 14,000 strikes which sparked 350 fires statewide. Lightning events like that are almost unheard of in California; this one was a result of a surge of moisture from a decaying tropical system off of Baja California.
While that lightning event can be considered just weather chance, it coincided with a sweltering summer heat wave which was undoubtedly made worse by climate change. This heat, on top of a long-term climate-driven drought, dried out vegetation, turning it into a tinderbox just waiting for lightning bolts to spark fires.
In her 22 years at Big Basin, Kerbavaz says she has witnessed a shift: a once nurturing climate has experienced significant change.
“There’s a consensus that things are getting hotter and drier, and most of us who lived in this area can feel that,” she said. “And there is a consensus that fog patterns have changed, and that we know that in the redwood forest fog patterns are essential to maintain the redwood forests in this climate.”
Since 2000, the western U.S. has been experiencing a megadrought, one of its worst droughts in 1,200 years. On top of that, since 1970, summers in California have warmed by 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. These types of climate conditions, warmer and drier, set the stage for a longer fire season with larger, more intense fires.
For the redwoods — despite their extensive root system, bark 12 inches thick, and having survived repeated fires over their thousands of years of existence — these recent intense fires are overwhelming their natural defenses.
Keeler-Wolf has the duty of surveying the wreckage from the August fires. Pointing up at a huge ancient redwood, he talks about the immensity of the fire.
“It affected the entire tree right up to the very top. This one is a candidate for being pronounced dead, but we haven’t pronounced it yet,” he said.
Both scientists agree that these coastal redwoods are very resilient. Even when they are heavily damaged from fires, they can re-sprout new trees from their trunks and even their roots.
Kerbavaz explained, “There’s also dormant buds by the base that can re-sprout and actually form new trees. Even before the flames were out the plants were starting to come back. Redwoods were re-sprouting at the same time as adjacent areas were still burning.”
Although approximately 1 in 10 of the burned redwoods will not make it, historically speaking, Kerbavaz says 90% should survive. But the loss of so many ancient trees, some of which had been standing for thousands of years, means that things will never look quite the same.
Sequoias posses many of the resilient qualities of the redwoods, but unlike the redwoods they cannot re-sprout with ease. That, combined with the fact that they live much further inland, away from the moist marine layer of the Pacific Ocean, makes them even more vulnerable to wildfire.
Park Williams is a Columbia University scientist and expert on the connection between fires and climate change. Through is research, he has observed an unprecedented difference in the climate and its impact on the forests. At a meeting in New York City in mid-January, I asked Park what his research has revealed.
Jeff Berardelli: It seems to be happening to the Joshua trees, to the sequoias and to the redwoods. And those are all different microclimates. So what is going on?
Park Williams: Well, there are a lot of things going on, but the one thing that all forests across the western U.S. are experiencing is warming. And so as we warm up the atmosphere, these forests are more likely to burn.
Jeff Berardelli: These fires are able to burn higher up on these trees, causing these trees to die where they wouldn’t have died years ago. Is that right?
Park Williams: We know that fires were very common in these forests over the last millennia. These trees are designed to be able to tolerate fire, but they can only tolerate fire if these fires aren’t giant catastrophic events. These giant fires with flames that are hundreds of feet tall managed to kill many hundreds of these ancient majestic trees.
As giant as these fires are, Williams says this may be just the beginning. As the region continues to warm, wildfires will get worse at an accelerating pace.
“The really important connection between heat and fire is it’s actually exponential. And that means that for every degree of warming that you have in California, the amount of extra forest fire you get goes up more than it did in the previous degree of warming.”
All of the scientists interviewed for this story agree that if we don’t stop warming the planet, these majestic trees will be facing a losing battle.
“We do fear that there might be some thresholds that are crossed. So that some of the species, some of the things that live here, will no longer be able to be sustained,” said Kerbavaz.TOPICS FOR YOU
by: Associated PressPosted: Jan 10, 2021 / 12:03 AM PST / Updated: Jan 10, 2021 / 12:04 AM PST
A tiny mouse-like animal has been spotted on Santa Catalina Island off Southern California for the first time since 2004, showing that the species is not extinct.
A Catalina Island Shrew was spotted in a photograph taken by a remote “camera trap” during a major effort to detect the diminutive animal early last year, the Catalina Island Conservancy said Wednesday.
“We have been looking for the Catalina Island Shrew for years,” said conservancy wildlife biologist Emily Hamblen said in a statement. “I thought, and really hoped, that they still existed somewhere on the Island.”
The Catalina Island Shrew was listed as a species of special concern by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1996.
An adult shrew is just 3.74 inches (95 millimeters) long, including tail, and they weigh about 3.96 grams (0.14 ounce). According to the conservancy, shrews have such a high metabolism they can’t survive long without eating.
To try to spy a shrew, the conservancy rotated seven camera traps among 28 locations on the island between February and May 2020.
Each trap was an upside bucket with a camera pointing down, bait in the center and four small openings.
The 12 weeks of trapping produced more than 83,000 photographs and only a few thousand have been reviewed so far.
The conservancy says the next step is to determine how to promote the survival of the species.
Vehicles are pulled off to the side of the road as the Bond fire, driven by high winds, approaches Santiago Canyon Road in California on Thursday. Photograph: Leonard Ortiz/APAssociated PressThu 3 Dec 2020 10.49 EST
Powerful winds pushed flames through southern California canyons early on Thursday as an out-of-control wildfire burned near homes and forced residents to flee.
The blaze in Orange county’s Silverado Canyon began late Wednesday as a house fire and quickly spread to tinder-dry brush as wind gusts topped 70mph (113km/h). The Bond fire exploded in size throughout the night and as the sun came up, an enormous plume of smoke was visible for miles.
Firefighters struggled in steep terrain amid unpredictable Santa Ana winds that have raised fire danger for much of the region.
Capt Thanh Nguyen of Orange county fire authority said crews were scrambling to stay ahead of flames that jumped major roads.Advertisement
“We’ve seen the wind change also drastically, so that’s what we’re telling all our personnel to be aware of – that constantly changing wind,” he told CBS LA TV.
Evacuations were ordered for several canyon neighborhoods near the city of Lake Forest and residents of other nearby areas were told to be ready to get out. It was not immediately known how many people were affected or if any homes were damaged.
The Bond fire is burning near the same area of October’s Silverado Fire, which forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate.
The new blaze broke out as southern California utilities cut the power to tens of thousands of customers to avoid the threat of wildfires during the notorious Santa Anas.
Red flag warnings of extreme fire danger through Saturday were in place because of low humidity, bone-dry brush and the winds, which sweep down from the interior, the National Weather Service said.
Utilities in the populous region began cutting power on Wednesday to customers as a precaution to prevent gusts from blowing tree limbs into electrical equipment or knocking down power lines, which have sparked devastating wildfires in recent years.
Southern California Edison cut power to about 15,000 homes and businesses by late Wednesday night and was considering de-energizing lines serving about 271,000 customers in seven counties throughout the windy period, which could last into Saturday. It was one of the utility’s largest precautionary blackouts.
San Diego Gas & Electric pulled the plug on about 24,000 customers by Wednesday night with another 73,000 in the crosshairs. “We recognize losing power is disruptive, and we sincerely thank our customers for their patience and understanding,” the utility said.
A blaze on about 15 acres (6 hectares) in in San Diego county threatened about 200 homes and officials were working to evacuate them, said Capt Thomas Shoots with Cal Fire, California’s state firefighting agency.
Nearby apartments were under evacuation advisories. The fire reported late Wednesday had damaged some homes, KGTV reported.
California has already experienced its worst-ever year for wildfires. More than 6,500 sq miles (16,835 sq km) have been scorched, a total larger than the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island. At least 31 people have been killed and 10,500 homes and other structures damaged or destroyed.
The latest fire threat comes as much of California plunges deeper into drought. Virtually all of northern California is in severe or extreme drought while nearly all of southern California is abnormally dry or worse.