California is so hot and dry that not even soaking rain can ease fall fire peril – in California
The heat is so intense in California that even soaking rain can’t alleviate the effects of a late-summer fire season, experts warned on Thursday.
California’s average high temperature so far this year was a balmy 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in July and 83 in August. That is just one degree warmer than 2013, the hottest year in the state’s history.
“Even with all the rain we had, it was still very hot,” said Eric Morlock, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.
“When it’s hot, you have this massive amount of energy, and if you don’t have it, then it becomes a source of death for trees and they die from heat stress and other reasons,” Morlock told Reuters.
Even California’s famed vineyards are being forced to use sprinkler irrigation in the summer months because they are being hit by deadly wildfires that are becoming more frequent, more intense and more devastating.
Some of the worst fires ever in California have been sparked by the collapse of so-called dry canons, which means that rainfall is no longer falling on the fire-prone area, leading authorities to believe that climate change is to blame.
“This year is getting worse, not better,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood warned at a Friday meeting, telling state and federal officials, “we’re starting to get the reality of climate change.”
“We’ve got to start the dialogue about climate change,” LaHood said.
While a large swath of California could still be saved with early-warning systems, a majority of its cities and counties are already underwater amid the state’s devastating flooding.
The flooding, which has turned parts of northern Mexico into the world’s largest lake, has created environmental disasters and led to one of the deadliest catastrophes in U.S. history.
In some areas of Northern California, nearly one billion gallons of water was forced into California’s rivers and Pacific Ocean over the course of a few weeks, according to National Weather Service data.
That means those waterways are now in the path to become toxic, threatening the public health of at least 14 million people, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
“The water supply has already been contaminated,” Gov.