CA Winter Storms Could Contribute to Deadly Wildfire Season

Published on February 24th, 2023

Sometimes it seems like California just can’t win when it comes to its increasingly volatile environment.

Earlier this winter, the state experienced a rash of rain and snowstorms. The rapid influx of water over a short period of time resulted in flooding and other issues for California residents.

One upside though, was the impression that this increase in precipitation would help mitigate California’s drought. One would assume that other environmental hazards like wildfires (which are linked with dry terrain), would also be less likely to occur.

Unfortunately, it seems there is a counterintuitive side effect of the winter storms. While the increase in water has limited the severity of the drought, the floods also paved the way for a potentially deadly wildfire season.

As outlined in a recent report from The Guardian, there are several environmental factors at play that could lead to an increase in wildfires.

The first is that the floods ripped numerous trees and other plants out of the ground. The increase in dead plants scattered throughout higher risk areas means more fuel for a future wildfire.

Their report added that the winter storms also prevented controlled burns that usually take place in the winter. These burns prevent wildfires in the warmer months.

On top of both of those factors, the winter precipitation helped provide much needed water to plant life throughout the state. This means an increase in plant life this spring. While that would appear to be a positive, it could turn deadly.

UC-Berkeley scientist Andrew Schwartz was quoted in a CNN report on this topic. He issued a warning about the increase in plant growth.

The dangerous side to this could be – and we’ve seen this in the past – is we get all this moisture, which increases the amount of spring growth around the state, and then all that growth dries out after we no longer get more moisture and becomes just additional fuels[.]

As we mentioned in a blog late last year, California is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change. Climate change and the state’s water issues are both linked with an increase in population.

More people means more water consumed, and less that is available for sustaining plant life and other important ecosystems. Overpopulation has disrupted the state’s natural, environmental balance, and has had a detrimental impact on everything around us.

There is not an easy way out of this, and we can’t assume that a miracle will fall from the sky. Unless we get serious about overpopulation, in the future we will see even more environmental disasters in our beautiful state.

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