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Flames once again return to California's wine country
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Ash is once again raining down upon California's Bay area, as the parched land to the north ignites. Not eight months after firestorms ravaged Northern California wine country, the flames have returned to the region. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, reports that the County Fire started at around 2:00 p.m. on June 30, and as of the morning of July 1, had rapidly spread to 16,500 acres.  The agency says 110 fire trucks have been deployed to the Yolo County area, which abuts California's famed Napa wine valley. Yolo itself is also rich in vineyards and tasting rooms. SEE ALSO: A landmark climate change ruling could go up in smoke after Justice Kennedy retires Both of these areas typically have hot, dry summers. Even so, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Drought Monitor shows these regions are experiencing "abnormally dry" conditions. Meaningful rains aren't expected during the summer, and lacking winter rains left the region with about 30 percent less rainfall than usual, as of late June. These parched lands, combined with hot temperatures and wind, fueled the County Fire, as well as others to the north, like the Pawnee Fire. In October 2017, historic fires in and around the wine country burned down over 8,000 structures, killing 44 people. These flames were helped by "diablo winds" reaching 79 miles per hour and vegetation that had been turned to tinder, after being dried out by the hottest California summer on record. The #CountyFire #GuindaFire burned extremely brightly / intensely during the overnight hours, as captured by one of our high resolution satellites. #PawneeFire was also visible. #CAFire #NorCal #cawx pic.twitter.com/rVyLpFolNg — NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) July 1, 2018 More extreme wildfires are an expected part of California's future, as scientists say climate change has begun to lock into a cycle where "climate whiplash" is the norm. Under these conditions, the state will alternate between years of extreme drought followed by deluges of rain. And during times of extended drought, more wildfire is expected. GOES East Satellite imagery showing smoke from the #CountyFire blowing to the SW into the Bay Area. Northerly flow will allow this to continue through much of today.#cawx pic.twitter.com/eAgMTQYKXx — NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) July 1, 2018 Already, the pattern appears to have emerged. From 2012 to 2016, the state experienced its worst drought on record, and likely worst in centuries more. This was followed by a winter deluge, one of the wettest in the state's history. #CountyFire from the air this morning. @NWSSacramento pic.twitter.com/CkZOjOTzaz — KG (@KG_DC) July 1, 2018 WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end? read more
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