The West Coast of the United States, ranging from northern Washington to the Mexican border, faced one of the most devastating fire seasons . Fire season occurs during the hottest and driest months of the year — between July and November — in California and the Pacific Northwest. In California alone last year, 9,917 fires burned.
The horrifying devastation to the forests of the West Coast were just some of the many tragedies 2020 brought the world. Even temperate rainforests, such as the Willamette National Forest in Oregon and Big Basin Redwoods State Park in northern California, were subjected to horrific infernos that devastated the forests, burning millions of acres and costing billions of dollars’ worth of damage. Now, scientists at San Jose State University are warning of an even worse fire season in store for 2021.
Rainfall and other forms of precipitation in January and February often show how bad a fire season will be, as higher amounts of rainfall will stop larger fires from occurring. However, the researchers at the , which keeps watch over weather in areas sensitive to fires in California, have currently seen one of the lowest amounts of fuel moisture This means that less precipitation and dew have been keeping the mountains and surrounding forests at a lower risk for wildfires. The data collected in the Santa Cruz Mountains by SJSU researchers can serve as an example of other mountain environments on the West Coast. It signals an upcoming fire season that may, without precautions, become even more deadly than the record breaking one in 2020.