More than 30 wildfires were burning 181,190 acres across California when Tuesday dawned, and almost 50 fires were burning 314,355 acres over the continental United States.
Raised by drought and fed by lightning and wind, the wildfire season has already exceeded the 10-year average by a significant margin. In 2008, 34,143 fires have burned 1.88 million acres, nearly 25% more than the average acreage to date.California is facing the most fires by far:
Besides the 32 fires in California, five other states were battling fires:
Robust just a couple of months ago, California's mountain snowpack had dwindled to just two-thirds of its normal level by the time the wildfire season started. Runoff to reservoirs and farm irrigation ponds is expected to drop by 35-45% from normal.
Drought across the nation has set the stage for a bad wildfire season. The U.S. Drought Monitor's latest weekly report showed worsening conditions across the west and south.
Scientists have predicted that global warming will produce more frequent and intense wildfires, in large part because mountain snowpacks are expected to dwindle. With less runoff, valley conditions will be drier throughout the season, leaving any dry wood more prone to ignition. Even the Bush Administration's science advisers recently endorsed these conclusions in a sweeping report that predicts more bouts of extreme weather in the United States and across North America.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.