Unity in Faith: Ukiah Churches Unite for Good Friday Service and Homeless Outreach Anticipating Northern California’s Fire Season: A Look Ahead
“Fire Season” The Ukiah Post

Northern California, 3/22/24 As winter starts to fade away and the golden hues of spring will soon begin to emerge, Californians are once again turning their attention to a looming concern: the upcoming fire season. With memories of recent devastating wildfires still fresh, many are anxious to understand what lies ahead. To shed some light on the situation, I recently had the opportunity to speak with Doug Bushay, a seasoned meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Eureka, about the outlook for Northern California.

“It’s really unclear at this time,” Bushay admits when asked about the forthcoming fire season. However, he offers insights gathered from observations and data. “With the amount of rain we have seen,” he continues, “it’s definitely going to be a slow start, similar to last season.”

Indeed, the precipitation Northern California has experienced during the rainy season has been notable. Bushay points out that most of the region is “at or above average” in terms of rainfall and snowfall. This bodes well for fire prevention efforts early in the season, as moist conditions tend to mitigate fire risk.

Reflecting on last year’s events, Bushay recalls, “We had a pretty decent amount of dry lightning storms move into the Northern California area in June and July.” This phenomenon, characterized by lightning accompanied by no rain, can spark fires in remote areas. Bushay suggests that such events are not only possible but also likely to occur again this year.

A Cal Fire Firefighter Works on Constructing Handline on the East Fire in Potter Valley (2023)

However, Bushay tempers concerns by providing a timeline of fire danger. “From March through May, we’re expecting little to no activity,” he explains. This period aligns with the tail end of the rainy season when moisture levels are typically high.

As spring transitions into summer, Bushay warns that the fire season will gain momentum. “June through August is when it will pick up,” he predicts. Rising temperatures coupled with drying vegetation create conditions ripe for wildfires to ignite and spread rapidly. This time frame coincides with the peak of fire activity in California, historically marked by some of the largest and most destructive wildfires.

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