Overcast and humid near-noon Tuesday on California’s north coast, and although there’s rain forecast for tonight, earlier this morning was bright sunshine and clear skies.
However, it didn’t take long for the cloud coverage to envelope us, and here along the shoreline we’re predicted for less than half-an-inch of rain in this the first ‘serious’ storm of the season — indications of a mild one, hopefully with some interior parts getting maybe two inches of the wet stuff.
Sure not enough to damper forest fires.
(Illustration: ‘Forest Fire with Wolf,” by HeWhoWalksWithTigers, found here).
And we’re doing some burning — California has seen about 6,000 wildfires so far in 2015, about 1,500 more than this time last year. And once again, Lake County has a blow-out blaze which really made a gallop this past weekend, now having scorched 61,000 acres (95 square miles) by yesterday, and has destroyed at least 400 homes, displacing more than 10,000 in a three-county area.
Redheaded Blackbelt has the update.
Already, at least one horrifying tragedy in the death of 72-year-old Barbara McWilliams, ‘world traveler and sharp-minded woman with advanced multiple sclerosis,’ who didn’t want to leave her home near Middletown.
Jennifer Hittson, McWilliams’ caregiver: ‘“That I left her there, it haunts me.”‘
Some background on California’s crazy-ass wildfires from Wired yesterday:
Right now, barely 5 percent of the massive Valley Fire’s perimeter (which is currently twice the size of San Francisco) is contained.
This means firefighters have put dirt barriers between the fire and fuel, homes, and businesses.
Containing the fire is made more difficult by the fact that many people ignored the sheriff’s warning to evacuate, forcing emergency responders to come to the rescue.
“As this fire is getting into homes, our fire crews are not able to battle the fire,” says Berlant.
“Saving lives always takes precedent.”
Firefighters are hoping that El Niño will deliver rain to stamp out what many fear could be the state’s worst fire season ever.
But even though this year’s El Niño is already one of the strongest on record, that’s no guarantee it will sate California’s thirst.
And if the rains do come, they might come way too late.
“The El Niño rains generally come in January, February, March, and April,” says Bill Patzert, a NASA climatologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“You’ve got a lot of fire season between then and now.”
If the Valley Fire were a disaster flick, it would be set up perfectly for a sequel.