California’s extraordinary year of wildfires resulted in another new milestone – the first “gigafire fire,” a million-acre blaze, in recent history.
On Monday, the August complex fire in the north California It has expanded beyond a million acres, elevating it from just “huge fire” to a new designation, “gigafire”, which has not been used before in a contemporary setting in the state.
in a 1.03 m acresThe fire is larger than Rhode Island and rages in seven counties, according to the Cal Fire. The merger of the many fires that occurred when lightning struck dry forests in August, and the massive fire was burning for 50 days and was only partially contained.
The August compound fire tops the list of the huge fires that ravaged 4 million acres of California this year, A number Cal Fire called “mind-boggling” and doubling the previous annual record. Five of the six largest fires ever recorded occurred in the state in 2020, killing dozens and losing thousands of buildings.
There are few indications that California’s largest fire season is abating. The state was hit by a heatwave this summer, helping to form massive forest fires even without the monsoons that usually fuel the fires that have historically spread over the West Coast.
Scientists say that widespread, uncontrollable fires are becoming an increasing feature of the western United States due to the climate crisis, with rising temperatures and prolonged droughts causing vegetation and soil to lose moisture.
This dry landscape makes the possibility of fires much greater. Major wildfires are three times more common in the West than in the 1970s, while the wildfire season is three months longer. According to an analysis by Climate Central.
“We expected last year that we were living with an opportunity for such an extreme event in our current climate,” He said Jennifer Balch is a fire ecologist at the University of Colorado Boulder. “You don’t need a crystal ball.”
The 2020 fire season blanketed the West Coast and sometimes blocked the sun’s rays. But experts warn that this year may seem mild soon compared to the continuing warming of the world due to the release of greenhouse gases from human activity.
“If you don’t like all the climate disasters that happen in 2020, I have some bad news for you for the rest of your life,” said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.
Parts of California are expected to receive some relief this week, with temperatures in Northern California dropping to 15 Fahrenheit by Friday. National Weather Service. Meteorologists expect some light to moderate rain that could aid firefighting efforts in the north, but climate scientists warn that it is not likely to be a storm that ends the season.
“The temperatures will start to drop near normal, seasonal levels, the relative humidity will slowly start to rise and we will start seeing lighter winds,” said Tom Bird, a meteorologist involved in the glass fire. He ruined parts of the wine country And it continues to burn.
Bird said the rain expected this weekend would be a “temporary drop” in fire weather, but, next week, “we will warm and dry again.” “We are in no way looking forward to ending the fire season with this event.”
Much of the Central Valley remains alert for air quality due to the wildfire smoke from the Creek Fire, which has burned over 326,000 acres, and the SQF complex fire, which has burned nearly 159,000 acres of the Sierra National Forest.
Northwestern California, where the August complex fires raged, the air quality was “from unhealthy to locally dangerous” as well. Meanwhile, coastal areas of the state woke up to dense fog on Tuesday, in baffling contrast to the smog that many people used to see during the height of the wildfires.