Nov 6, 2019

California fire season could last until December

A firefighter douses flames from a backfire during the Maria Fire in Santa Paula, California, on Nov. 1. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

California could continue to endure wildfires until December as a late start to the rainy season looks increasingly likely — particularly in the south of the state, the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center warns in a new report.

This may be a long fall and winter across California for both the fire-fighting community and the general public in terms of coping with the threat of fires."
The National Interagency Fire Center's Predictive Services map issued for its Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for November. Image: Predictive Services, National Interagency Fire Center

Why it matters: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency over a series of wildfires that have plagued the state for weeks. The fires have posed the most dangerous conditions since the 2017 wine country fires that killed 22 people.

The big picture: The bleak outlook comes on the heels of last month being confirmed as the warmest October ever (though by a slim margin) and some 11,000 scientists labeled climate change as an "emergency" for the first time.

What to expect: Southern California is predicted to have a higher-than-usual chance of big fires until December, with little rain in sight. The north of the state is set to see "offshore winds occurring over fuel beds that are primed for burning," the report said.

Yes, but: Retired NASA climatologist Bill Patzert told the Los Angeles Times that fire season predictions were largely dependent on "a race between the start of the rainy season and the Santa Ana winds: which one dominates and at what time of the year;" a good downpour could quell wildfires, even in strong winds.

But, but, but: Per the LA Times, "Southern California hasn't had significant rain in seven months, and meteorologists say there’s no clear sign of rain anywhere in the forecast through at least mid-November."

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Wind-driven wildfire threatens Santa Barbara County

The Cave Fire burns a hillside above houses in Santa Barbara on Nov. 26. Photo: Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images

A wind-driven wildfire burning north of Santa Barbara, California, forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and threatened thousands more homes, AP reports.

What's happening: Santa Barbara County residents hope an approaching storm could help extinguish the flames of the Cave Fire, per AP, which notes 4,000 of the almost 5,500 evacuees were told Tuesday they could return home after authorities reduced the evacuation zone size. The blaze burned 4,300 acres and was 10% contained Tuesday evening, Santa Barbara County fire spokesman Mike Eliason tweeted.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 27, 2019

California wildfires: What you need to know

A firefighter controls a hotspot of the Maria Fire in Ventura County, Calif., on Saturday. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

California firefighters are winning the fight against a series of wildfires in the state, with official figures showing most blazes at least 75% contained and several others fully contained or extinguished by Tuesday night. But authorities warn the fire danger isn't over yet.

What's new: A new report warns the fire season could continue through December. Firefighters were dealing with a new fire in a remote area of Lake County, near Clearlake. CalFire said the blaze, named the Eagle Fire, had burned 75 acres and was 56% contained by Tuesday evening.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 6, 2019

California won't buy from automakers who side with Trump on emissions

Traffic backs up at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toll plaza along Interstate 80 in July. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California confirmed Monday that it won't buy new government vehicles from automakers who backed President Trump in his carbon emissions war with the state, the New York Times reports. GM, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota are among those set to be affected by the move.

Driving the news: The three big automakers and others announced in October that they were joining the Trump administration's side in litigation over its move to stop California from imposing emissions rules and, by proxy, mileage requirements that are tougher than federal standards, per Axios' Ben Geman.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019