Climate change is making wildfires harder to put out because of higher temperatures, drier conditions, and stronger winds.
“Normally we’d be starting to get some moisture and you’d be having damper fuel conditions, which would make these fires probably much more difficult to burn, certainly to burn at these kinds of extreme conditions,” explained U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Malcolm North. “But in California, I’d say that we’re almost at a point now where we have a year-round fire season.”
Historically, California’s wildfire season ends in October but the state has already faced three very devastating wildfires so far in November that have killed dozens of people and destroyed more than 7,000 residences and buildings.
North says climate change doesn’t increase fires but it makes them more dangerous and harder to contain.
“You have very dry fuels, really high winds, low humidity, and pretty high temperatures for this time of year. And it just makes it very, very difficult,” he explained. “We have probably some of the best, i not, maybe the best firefighting forces in the world. But once the winds start blowing more than about 25 or 30 miles per hour there’s not a lot we can do.”