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
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.
“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.
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