California Fire Season Winds Down as Rain, Snow Returns This Week

California Fire Season Winds Down as Rain, Snow Returns This Week

Volunteer crews clear brush around Redwood trees before a prescribed burn at Wilder Ranch State Park near Santa Cruz, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2023. Prescribed burns are used to prevent wildfires. (Nic Coury/AFP via Getty Images)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

10/23/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

California’s fire season is slowly coming to an end as rain and snow is expected to return to mountain areas by the weekend.
Although the northwest region of the state saw two massive blazes this year, firefighters battled about 300 fewer fires compared to last year.
“We had a few less fires,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Captain Robert Foxworthy told The Epoch Times. “We’re very close in acreage, generally speaking.”
According to the latest numbers Oct. 23, the state had slightly more than 6,200 wildfires, with about 318,000 acres burned and 37 homes or businesses destroyed.
At this time last year, the state had nearly 6,500 fires, Mr. Foxworthy said.
The last two years, however, have been well below the state’s average of 1.5 million acres burned.
“When most people think of California and think of wildfires, they go back to the busier seasons, and we’re down considerably from those numbers,” Mr. Foxworthy added.
Several factors contributed to a slower fire season this year.
First responders work together in extinguishing the flames of a wildfire burning in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Feb. 10, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

First responders work together in extinguishing the flames of a wildfire burning in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Feb. 10, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The state and U.S. Forestry Service had more firefighting aircraft and crews, and the state received record amounts of precipitation, especially as Southern California caught the tail end of Hurricane Hilary in August.
“I think the public is getting more savvy with wildfire safety too, so I think that plays into it,” Mr. Foxworthy said.
California’s fire season typically runs from April to October. However, often dry and gusty Santa Ana winds—a regional phenomenon of strong, dry and warm winds that start inland and affect the coastal region—increase in October and November in Southern California and Orange County. Some of the most destructive wildfires in the state have occurred later in the year as a result.
Two fires in the state’s northwest region greatly contributed to the bulk of California’s fire season this year.
The Happy Camp Complex fire that started Aug. 16 in Siskiyou County, California, near the Oregon Border, was completely contained by Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The blaze was ignited by a series of thunderstorms in the Klamath National Forest that brought lightning and sparked several small fires. Once merged, the blaze burned 21,750 acres.
Another massive fire near the Happy Camp fire was the Smith River Complex fire, in Del Norte County, caused by lightning the same day. U.S. Forest Service officials reported the fire had burned 95,107 acres by Monday and was 95 percent contained.
Snow blankets a hill in Meyers, Calif., on March 20, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Snow blankets a hill in Meyers, Calif., on March 20, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Winter Weather on the Way

Parts of the Golden State are expected to get windy, wet, or snowy fall weather beginning this week, according to weather experts.
National Weather Service forecasters are calling for a 50-percent chance of snow in the South Lake Tahoe area by late Wednesday night, clearing on Thursday. A slight chance of snow is expected again beginning Thursday night and into Friday and Saturday with sunny skies returning Sunday.
Further south in southern Santa Barbara County, located on the central California coast, the National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning Monday afternoon through the Interstate 5 corridor.
Winds gusting up to 45 miles per hour were expected nearby in the Santa Ynez Mountains and foothills, according to the weather service.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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