Nov 9, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen
1 big thing: The fires ravaging California

Paradise, California. Photo: NASA

Three major wildfires are blazing across California, killing citizens trapped by their rapid spread and threatening iconic towns like Malibu.

The big picture: "With fires also burning in Southern California, state officials put the total number of people forced from their homes at 157,000," the AP reports.

  • "The first blaze, dubbed the Hill Fire, reduced in size Friday as it settled into the footprint of a 2013 fire, officials said." [Washington Post]
  • "Authorities said they have no containment of the Woolsey fire, which comes as strong Santa Ana winds blow through the region." [LA Times]
  • "[T]he blaze near the town of Paradise had grown to nearly 110 square miles... 'There was really no firefight involved... These firefighters were in the rescue mode all day yesterday,'" said an official with California Forestry and Fire Protection. [AP]

Between the lines: California has had one of its warmest and driest six month periods on record since 1895 (May through October), according to NOAA. Much of the state has not seen measurable rain in months, and vegetation moisture levels are near all-time lows. 

Longer-term climate change and population growth are also combining to cause increased wildfire risk in California, including in highly populated areas, notes Axios' Andrew Freedman.

    • Santa Ana wind events, which feature strong, desiccating offshore winds that can accelerate through mountain passes at speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour, are notorious for resulting in fast-spreading wildfires in Southern California in particular. 

The bottom line: We're witnessing yet more wildfire disasters in a state that is likely to see this problem grow worse with time, as climate change leads to more erratic rainy seasons and hotter, drier and more extended dry seasons.

Go deeper: 15 of California's 20 largest wildfires have occurred since 2000.

Bonus: Pics du jour
Photo: Reed Saxon/AP

Above: Strong winds blow smoke horizontally over the the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean over the city of Malibu, far distance, seen from the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles.

Below: Patients are quickly evacuated from the Feather River Hospital as it burns down during the Camp fire in Paradise, California.

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Below: California from space.

2. What you missed
  1. President Trump issued a proclamation this morning suspending "for a limited period" any immigrant who crosses the U.S. southern border illegally — disqualifying them from asylum. The rule is being challenged in court.
  2. Big WSJ story: Trump directed or was personally involved in multiple payments of hush money to women claiming to have had sexual encounters with him — potentially breaking campaign finance laws. Quick summary.
  3. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is "up and working" after being hospitalized for fracturing three ribs in a fall, reports CNBC.
  4. Fortune Magazine is being sold for $150 million to Thai businessman Chatchaval Jiaravanon for $150 million. Go deeper.
  5. A Las Vegas shooting survivor was among the victims killed in the California shooting this week. Go deeper.
3. 1 📺 thing

"A think tank that has studied the content of late-night comedy for the past 26 years says Trump was the butt of more jokes in 2017 than any other public figure has for a single year," the AP reports.

  • Trump beat his own record from 2016, notes the study, which used monologues from Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah.
  • "[T]he record-holder before that was President Bill Clinton in 1998, the year of Monica Lewinsky."
Mike Allen