A fast-moving wildfire burns in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains on January 16, 2014.Behind California’s January Wildfires: Dry Conditions, Stubborn Weather Pattern

A fast-moving wildfire burns in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains on January 16, 2014.

On the heels of California’s driest calendar year on record, wildfires have charred almost 2,000 acres around the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles, California.

Not exactly the way people want to stay warm during wintertime.

“This is not normal,” said Mark Jackson, the meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service‘s office near Los Angeles. The peak season for California wildfires runs from May to early December. (See “Why Big, Intense Wildfires Are the New Normal.”)

The record dry conditions have contributed to an increased danger for wildfires in the Golden State, Jackson said.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency for the state on Friday and called for the voluntary conservation of water by 20 percent.

These historic dry conditions—California is the driest it’s been since record-keeping began in the 1890s—are an unfortunate consequence of a naturally occurring weather pattern that’s gotten out of hand.

Meteorologists say the drought is thanks largely to a dome of high pressure—or a region of sinking air in the atmosphere—that’s been parked over the state for months, with no immediate end in sight.

“It’s called a blocking high,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a co-author of the U.S. Drought Monitor report.

“Not only is it dry under that high pressure, but it is also deflecting all the storm systems that approach [the West Coast],” Fuchs said.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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