We’re in Peak Fire Season

Post date: Sep 24, 2016 9:27:25 PM

September and October are the height of our Central Coast Wildfire season. The vegetation is all thoroughly dry, the marine layer is dissipating, and rainy season is at least a month away. This year we continue to be abnormally dry, and the number of drought stressed trees and shrubs continues to climb as that dryness takes its toll. In southern California Santa Ana winds are a fearsome regular occurrence; this year we are predicted to have a greater than normal incidence of our local version, those spooky east winds which historically accompany large wildfires here.

By the time you read this, the USWS monthly climate predictions will have been released at the beginning of October. You should check them out at https://www.climate.gov/maps-data.

The best indicator of wildfire risk in the Santa Cruz Mountains though is evaporative stress, in other words, the rate at which plants are losing moisture to the air. There is a rolling one-month summary of the Evaporative Stress Index for the entire US, with a resolution of 2.5 miles, issued weekly by the USDA at http://hrsl.arsusda.gov/drought/.

Another set of monthly wildfire risk projections are available from the National Interagency Coordination Center at http://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/outlooks.htm.