By Roy L Hales
As British Columbia reels from the worst fire season in its recorded history, it is easy to look upon this as a local problem. Only much of Oregon is wrapped in smoke, there are reports of ash falling like snow in some Washington cities (photo at top of page) and two days ago a state of emergency was declared in Los Angeles. What is causing the West Coast’s epidemic wildfires?
The West Coast’s Epidemic Wildfires
Meteorologists are linking the spread of wildfires to a heat wave.
Renee Duff, of AccuWeather, writes, ” … The continued dry, hot weather will feed ongoing wildfires and threaten to trigger new ones. A smoky haze will shroud the sky wherever a fire is burning or downwind of a blaze.”
Only, as the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, “Since 1970, average annual temperatures in the Western U.S. have increased by 1.9° F, about twice the pace of the global average warming.”
Temperatures Also Rising In BC
Environmental Reporting BC says temperatures have also been rising north of the border. The average annual temperature rose more than 1.4 degrees between 1900 and 2013.
“Most of the annual warming trend has occurred in the winter. The average temperature increase in winter across the province is 2.2°C per century. Winter temperatures have increased by 3.0 to 3.8°C per century in the north, 2.6 to 2.9°C per century in the north-central region and 1.5 to 1.7°C per century in central, interior and southeastern B.C.”
As Temperatures Rise
“Over the past 12 years, every state in the Western U.S. has experienced an increase in the average number of large wildfires per year compared to the annual average from 1980 to 2000.”
A recent Harvard study suggests this will continue, ” … by 2050, wildfire seasons will be about three weeks longer, up to twice as smoky, and will burn a wider area in the western states”.
Top photo credit: It is “snowing” with ash in Vancouver WA.– courtesy Lana Zoubkov via Twitter