Here’s some wildfire statistics (these numbers update daily here). This year to date, the number of wildfires in the U.S. is 7th highest in the last 11 years. The number of acres burned is 3rd highest in the last 11 years. The number of large wildfires burning today in the U.S. is 10 in California, 2 in Oregon and one each in Arizona and Washington. This past winter, there was well above average precipitation in the Western U.S., especially California.
Here’s a current map of reservoir levels in California…almost all well above average levels (they don’t keep them totally full, so that there is some room to hold water in a flood situation). You’ll note the low water level Lake Oroville, where they had the water coming over the dam last winter. They have been working on the dam since then and keeping the water level relatively low.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of wildfires are started by humans. This from the Insurance Information Institute: “As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.”
I’ve been following the wildfires in CA at several different websites and on Twitter. You can get the latest from KRON in San Francisco. At least 12 people are dead, with 100 injured, and as many as 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed in just the Napa/Sonoma fires. Map of fires here. There are 14 fires burning in eight counties in Northern and Central California. This is a picture of the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country Hotel that burned to the ground. A substantial part of the Cardinal Newman High School was destroyed. “Complete devastation. “That’s what it’s like in many Santa Rosa neighborhoods“. Pictures here.
Here’s the areas under a Red Flag Warning. This is for offshore winds and low humidities. Here’s current conditions in CA. As I write this, conditions are not too bad. At 3 pm EDT, Napa was reporting a temp. of 69, a humidity of 34% and a visibility of 1 mile in smoke. The wind is only 3 mph. That means the wind is generally favorable for fire fighters, but on the other hand, the smoke just hangs in the air and people that have not evacuated should use masks. Winds should remain light tonight, but pick up to 15-20 mph tomorrow.
Here’s an update on the two large fires in Napa/Sonoma: Central LNU Complex, 2 fires). One mile north of Santa Rosa, CA. Tall grass and brush. Extreme fire behavior. Numerous residences threatened. Evacuations in effect. 625 Personnel, 79 Engines and 7 helicopters working the fire.