A Record 2 Million Acres Destroyed in California Fires

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Not Even Peak Wildfire Season Yet

It’s not even the peak of the wildfire season in California but a Record-Breaking 2 Million Acres have Burned Already.

There have been “900 wildfires since August 15 but the heart of the fire season has not even started yet.”

Santa-Ana Winds

Santa Anna Winds

The peak starts when the seasonal Santa-Ana Winds begin. 

The Santa Ana winds are strong, extremely dry downslope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja California. They originate from cool, dry high-pressure air masses in the Great Basin.  Santa Ana winds are known for the hot, dry weather that they bring in autumn (often the hottest of the year), but they can also arise at other times of the year.

They often bring the lowest relative humidities of the year to coastal Southern California. These low humidities, combined with the warm, compressionally-heated air mass, plus high wind speeds, create critical fire weather conditions. Also sometimes called “devil winds”, the Santa Anas are infamous for fanning regional wildfires.

Santa-Ana Winds LA Times

The LA Times explains What makes the Santa Ana winds blow through Southern California?

Santa-Ana Winds Started Today

A Red Flag Fire Weather Warning issued for San Diego County due to Santa Ana winds

“Strong north to northeast winds will begin first in San Bernardino and Orange counties, then spread southward this afternoon and into San Diego County late this afternoon and tonight,” the weather service says in an advisory.

Forecasters say the winds will blow 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph to 55 mph in the windiest locations.

The winds could make it harder for fire fighters to continue to fight the huge Valley fire near Alpine.

Wildfire Map

Comparison to August 23

On August 23, I totaled up the acres burnt and matched the reported totals.

For details, please see Tweets of the Day: Over 1 Million Acres in California are On Fire

Using the current BLM map, I did so again.

Federal Responsibility

California Federal Fire Responsibility 2020-09-08

State and Local Responsibility

California State and Local Responsibility 2020-09-08

Notes

  1. Fires marked with a “*” are new since my previous spreadsheet on August 18. 
  2. Fires marked with an “-” no longer appear on the report. 
  3. On fires marked with an “-” I assume 100% containment at the number of acres I showed previously. 
  4. I may have missed fires started and put out in the interim.
  5. Points 3 and 4 lead to an huge undercount in acres burnt in my totals.

Southern Utah Report

Yesterday Afternoon the air in Southern Utah was so smoky from the fires that we could look straight at the sun in midday even though there were no clouds. 

The sun looked pink, mid-day, through the smoke. Today it is much colder and breezy. 

Temperatures dropped from 106 degrees yesterday to about 70 degrees now with the wind shift.

The cooler weather and less smoke suits us here, but the breeze will make matters much worse for those in California.

Best wishes to all impacted by these devastating fires.

Mish 

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