【《We Chinese in America》Media Editor Tang Zhao, September 23, 2022Although recent rains helped tame some of the state’s most active blazes — including the Mosquito fire in El Dorado and Placer counties and the  Fairveiw fire in Riverside — it’s too soon to declare fire season over, experts say. In California, occasional bouts of heavy precipitation are proving outmatched by rising temperatures and worsening drought, which can leave vegetation nearly as brittle and fire-prone as it was before the rain.

What’s more, fall is often accompanied by gusty Santa Ana winds that help to fan wildfires. With experts now predicting a rare, third consecutive year of dry La Niña conditions, the combination of winds and desiccated fuel could prove perilous.

“We still have to be really vigilant,” said Alex Hall, director of the Center for Climate Science at UCLA. “The heart of the fire season — especially for Southern California and the central part of California — is coming up.”

Moreover, Fire officials are also keeping an eye on La Niña, a climate pattern in the tropical Pacific that is often associated with dry conditions in Southern California. There is a 91% chance that La Nina will stick around through at least November, according to the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.

However, La Niña sometimes splits California in two — bringing rains to the northern part of the state and dryness to the south, forecasters said. But UCLA’s Hall noted that there have been “plenty of wet years that are also La Niña years” in Southern California, so there are a range of possible outcomes.

Though the arrival of rains typically “shuts off” fire season in California, that hasn’t been the case in many places this year. As a result, fire risk remains high, especially with the looming threat of the Santa Anas in Southern California.

“There’s this moment when we have these really high winds blowing over this desiccated landscape that experienced a whole summertime of no precipitation,” Hall said. “That’s the recipe for extreme fire risk, and we’re entering that season right now.”

(Source: L. A. Times)

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