Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Green Monster?

Yesterday evening, the foothills were so green and the view so spectacular that I could hear Julie Andrews singing "the hills are alive with the sound of music" in my left ear.

Regularly spaced deluges have led to a remarkably lush carpet in many areas.

But is all this grass a green monster lying in wait?  Each year I see reports on what kind of fire season to expect.  A recent report on Fox-13 called for an average fire season, but what does that mean?


We are living in a world where the baseline for fire is changing rapidly.  Much of the arid west has and is experiencing rapid development, much of it in the wildland interface.  Our vulnerability has never been higher.

Now add the rise in wildfire intensity, which has occurred for many reasons including past wildland management practices, invasive species, disease, and climate change.  With regards to the latter, there is quite a bit of variability from year to year and periods of wet, cool weather, but the dice are increasingly loaded for warmer weather, which even if the rainfall is near average, leads to drier fuels because of increased evapotranspiration.

This new reality requires vigilance and preparation each and every year.  It is best to expect the worst and hope for the best. 

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