Fire Season Across West Slower than Past Five Years. That Could Change.

Share with Friends

As the Western U.S. enters into the worst of its annual fire season, Cal Fire and other agencies are warning the public not to let their guard down, even as the current season is off to a slower start in comparison to recent years.

The National Interagency Fire Center reports that across the West, the number of acres burned so far this season is down dramatically from recent years, this despite the fact that the number of fires is roughly equal to the past.

Here are the figures so far this year.

2020 (1/1/20 – 7/9/20) Fires: 26,527 Acres: 1,525,632
2019 (1/1/19 – 7/9/19) Fires: 21,433 Acres: 1,530,905
2018 (1/1/18 – 7/9/18) Fires: 31,219 Acres: 3,270,089
2017 (1/1/17 – 7/9/17) Fires: 32,494 Acres: 3,372,927
2016 (1/1/16 – 7/9/16) Fires: 27,927 Acres: 2,328,793
2015 (1/1/15 – 7/9/15) Fires: 30,017 Acres: 3,821,726

Spring rains are largely credited with the slow start to the 2019 California fire season, and so far this year fires have burned approximately the same acreage across the West through early July as last year. This is in dramatic contrast to 2017 and 2018 when large early blazes scorched more than twice as many acres over the same January to July period.

Still, as we well know in Sonoma County, the worst of the fire season often does not arrive until the fall, when offshore wind events and parched vegetation create critical fire conditions.  That was the case last year when the Kincade Fire roared through the county prompting evacuations in late October, becoming the largest-ever Sonoma County blaze.

Across California, most fires have been caught before they could spread in giant infernos.  Fire experts say the lack of major wind events so far this season is helping keep the numbers relatively modest.

Still, with months to go in the current fire season, fire experts caution that 2020 still has the potential to ramp up tremendously. In fact most veteran observers say it is only a matter of time until large fire events occur across California and the West.

Although unreliable, NOAAs Climate Forecast Center issues precipitation and temperature outlooks for upcoming months.  At this point, this outlook hints that August has the potential of being a bit wetter than normal across Northern California, but also bring above normal temperatures across most of the nation.

Support Hyper-Local Community-Based Video News!

Our approach is different.  No ads, and no paywalls. We are committed to keeping News of the North Bay’s content free and open to everyone.  Your generous support of NNB helps to insure that we can continue to provide original, insightful and independent video news reporting for Sonoma County and the North Bay.

Choose a Support Level!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *