California is so hot and dry that not even soaking rain can ease fall fire peril in the area, even though rainfall has generally held to the south since the start of last year.
Since the start of December, California wildfire experts have been inundated with warnings about how dry the state is for fire season.
For most of the year, the state has produced some 2.5 inches of rain, on average, with some locations averaging up to 2.5 inches per year.
This year, for the first time, some areas in Southern California have been in drought for more than three months, according to the National Weather Service.
The last time the state was in what officials called an extreme fire danger zone was in 2012, when there were 15,000 fewer fires on the books.
In Northern California, the fire danger has been reduced to one extreme category — extreme fire danger — for the past five weeks.
The last time the region was in the extreme fire danger category was in 1999-2003, when the average number of wildland fires was 23,000 a year.
But the year 2017 is far from the year when the drought eased. Even if California were to see its driest year on record, the state’s current fire season would still be the most dangerous in the last 15 years.
The year is off to a slow start.
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And fire experts say they are not optimistic that the state will not have a fire season to call a full year.
“There is no question that it’s going to be at least, I would say, on par with what we’ve seen in past years,” said Gary Milano, manager of the California Fire Information Program at the National Weather Service.
There is no question that it’s going to be at least, I would say, on par with what we’ve seen in past years. — Gary Milano, NWS
“This year is the first year in over 10 years that it’s a lot