Drought, Fire, and the New Normal in the American West

From the Source: 

"The wildfire season arrived early this week in southern California, at a time of the year when skies usually are covered in cooling clouds of gray.

But this spring, the skies have been more like ashen gray, and fire agencies have responded to nearly 1,400 fires this year—twice the typical number, a Cal Fire spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times. A New York Times report May 16 said fire season in the West is now 75 days longer each year than it was a decade ago.

At the root of the problem is the deep, three-year drought that continues to plague California, and warmer winter weather that shrinks the snowpack in the Cascade and Sierra Mountains—a recipe that increases likelihood of wildfires. Studies indicate that the number and size of Western fires is up, and scientists say this drought may be the start of a long-term trend, noting that other Western droughts during the past 1,000 years have been more severe and could repeat." 

  Above: "Firefighters drive through a burned-out area in the hills around San Marcos, California, on May 15, 2014." Credit: Mike Blake/Reuters

Above: "Firefighters drive through a burned-out area in the hills around San Marcos, California, on May 15, 2014." Credit: Mike Blake/Reuters