Wildfire risk surges due to lack of rain

The lack of winter weather has affected more than ski resorts throughout Tahoe, it has created a very serious fire hazard across California’s parched landscape.

May usually marks the beginning of the dry season. This spring, though, California has experienced several months with little to no rain.

Dry conditions make the wildfire hazard more serious for a longer period of time than in previous summers.

The National Interagency Fire Center projects that areas of southern and central California, along with parts of the Sierra Nevada, are liable to experience more fires this year.

The dry spell leaves large portions of California barren and susceptible to fire by both human and natural causes, said Rob Krohn, a meteorologist with the U.S. Forestry Service’s Predictive Services Branch in Riverside:

“A big chunk of the state is looking at above-average wildfire risk.”

This unusually dry season may be a more common sight in the future, according to climate researchers. Throughout the next 75 years, warm winters, reduced snowpack, earlier snow melts and hotter summers will cause more fires.

Researchers said that this year will be a test to see what’s in store for California in terms of its dismal climate.

Heavy rain brought some relief in January and again in March, but Krohn said it arrived far too late. 1,000 acres in California has burned this year, which is below normal. Plants and trees, however, rely on early rains to be able to withstand dry summers.

California is doing well in regards to water supply, with most groundwater basins and reservoirs still high, but this means little in terms of wildfires.

It is expected that local officials will implement burn restrictions across most of the state.