California’s fires season begins earlier than ever this year due to lack of water.
By Annika Henthorn
With the power outages behind us and the endless fires coming to a close, it seemed as though California was finally recovering from the arduous fire season endured in months prior.
However, this hope was short-lived. Fire season is anticipated to officially begin within the next couple of weeks.
Assistant Santa Rosa Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal, has told ABC that more rain was expected this Sunday and “we ended up with quite a bit less, so we're faced with what we anticipate as potentially a long dry summer.” ABC has revealed that 85% of California is in a severe drought. This has exponentially worsened from last year, where only 12% of California suffered these extreme drought conditions.
Two counties in Northern California, Mendocino and Sonoma, have even declared a drought emergency. Governor Newsom has stated that “oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment, certainly historic for this particular lake, Mendocino,” where 40 feet of water used to be. The lake is now at 40% capacity due to the extreme heat and weather conditions, according to U.S News. Newsom has stated that he will likely expand the drought emergency declaration if conditions worsen, according to U.S News.
The Guardian has revealed that the snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains and Cascades were approximately 40% below expectations, indicating that the state no longer has the resources to replenish other depleted water sources. For some communities, the drought never really seemed to end. With water becoming scarce, controversy about how the water should be distributed will be a conversation at the forefront of California media for months to come.
Nicola Ulibarri, who researches water management at the University of California, Irvine, has expressed her concerns with The Guardian, stating “we’re going to need the whole system to change.” California seems to undergo droughts increasingly more often, and Ulibarri has argued that in order to adjust to what seems to be a growing norm, the system needs to change.
Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles and the Nature Conservancy has said that “extreme, intense fires are the exclamation points at the end of long-term droughts.” These brutal fires that seem to have grown increasingly more severe are not only products of drier conditions, but also extreme heat that has been on the rise. Unfortunately, Swain has revealed that this fire season break for some Californians is temporary and “there isn’t really any sign of relief on the horizon.”
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Ryan Ford '23,