California’s dry winter means much of the state is in drought again
Likewise, about 15 percent of the state is in a “severe drought;”; last year at this time, that number was zero.
David Miskus, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who authored the report, tells Salon that California is having what he calls a “subnormal winter season,” adding that the upcoming part of the winter season still has an opportunity to provide the region with rain.
Faith Kearns, a researcher with the California Institute for Water Resources, agreed there is still time to decide whether this winter is a dry one or not.
Additionally, the winter of 2017, which brought some of the most intense storms in years to state, had an impact that trickled into the winter of 2018 — hence, the smaller percentage of drought conditions across the state in 2017 and early 2018.
Unless California sees more rain in the winter of 2018/2019, the state may see a bad fire season — again.
Indeed, California had its deadliest wildfire season ever in 2018.
Dr. Samuel Sandoval Solis, an Associate Professor in the department of Land, Air and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis, tells Salon that droughts in California have a variety of short-term effects in regard to how they affect the next fire season.
First, he said, droughts kill trees, and dead trees give wildfires the fuel they need to spread.
“I hope that doesn’t happen this year, but it is likely because when you have late rains — and for us late rain should be March and April — but basically you have understory, and when you have that underneath the trees, the grass will grow taller in late rain,” he explained.
As Miskus explained, “all signals are pointing to El Niño” weather patterns this winter, which typically means a wetter winter.