Aug 24, 2023 - Climate

San Diego's fire weather risk worsens over 50 years

Fire weather days in the San Diego area
Reproduced from Climate Central; Chart: Axios Visuals

Fire weather days in San Diego increased by 3 days annually on average between 1973 and 2022, per an analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit climate science research organization, Axios' Andrew Freedman and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • Of note: The report defines fire weather days as having particular combinations of low humidity, high temperatures and strong winds.

Why it matters: Wildfire seasons are getting longer and more intense, in part, due to human-caused climate change, per Climate Central. Climate change is resulting in higher temperatures and drier conditions in many areas, leading to more frequent and larger fires.

Zoom out: Southern California, Texas and New Mexico have experienced some of the greatest upticks in fire weather days each year.

  • Some spots now see two more months of fire weather conditions compared to a half-century ago.
  • This matches climate studies that show a significant lengthening of the California wildfire season, for example.

Yes, but: Changes in fire weather days were smaller for coastal cities, where humidity is typically higher.

What's next: As climate change continues, it’s expected that fire weather days will continue to spike, particularly across the West and Southwest.

Go deeper: Vegetation boosted by record rain could fuel California wildfires, from our colleagues in San Francisco.

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