In the United States, California is the state that has experienced the worst wildfires in human history, which have been burning for months and affecting millions of people. The main reason for the wildfires is attributed to drought-desiccated conditions and extreme heat.
But this year, the wildfire season in the state of California was notable for a different reason than previous years, when the number of blazes set records, destroyed thousands of structures, and burned millions of acres of land.
Many experts anticipated that 2022 would follow the trend of the previous years, but that was not the case as wildfires have killed nine people so far in California in 2022, destroyed 772 structures, and damaged another 104. In comparison, the most destructive fire in the history of the state, the Camp Fire, destroyed 18,804 structures and killed 85 people in 2018.
The reasons why the state of California managed to have a relatively tame wildfire season and avoid wildfire devastation are the moisture brought by monsoonal rains and fewer Santa Ana winds. In addition to having more rain than usual, California has also seen fewer instances of dry lightning compared to past years.
Pete Curran, a meteorologist with the United States Forest Service, said, “We had a very healthy monsoon season. And by that, I mean that we had moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that came across the desert and brought us beneficial rain in the summer months. And even though the amounts weren’t great, they did actually tamp down a little bit on our wildfire potential.”
Aside from a bit of luck with the weather this season, officials added that the mild wildfire season may be attributed in part to their efforts to remove brush and trees, where $2.8 billion was spent on forest management over the course of the previous two years.