Grim Western Fire Season Starts Much Drier Than Record 2020

May 24, 2021

Scientists say the outlook for the western U.S. fire season is grim because it's starting far drier than 2020's record-breaking fire year. 

In this Sept. 9, 2020, file photo, flames lick above vehicles on Highway 162 as the Bear Fire burns in Oroville, Calif. Scientists say the outlook for the western U.S. fire season is grim because it's starting far drier than 2020's record-breaking fire year.
Credit AP Photo/Noah Berger, File

  

Measurements show soil and plants are much drier, making trees and brush more likely to ignite and fire to spread. A megadrought fueled by climate change is part of the problem. From the Rockies westward, April was the second driest on record. Now more than 77% of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico is in either extreme or exceptional drought. Juniper trees are dying, and fire officials say their canopies of dead needles are like having gasoline out in the national forests.