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How California’s Dry Winter Will Affect Fire Season

This winter season was quite the roller coaster with promising storms hammering the west coast in October and then December. Tahoe saw snow records nearly broken with more than three feet falling over December 26 and 27, 2021. Rain in the Bay Area saw an average of six to seven inches over nine days during the same storm with the Big Sur area seeing more than 12 inches fall.

California is in a drought, a megadrought actually, and the large December storm had many residents feeling optimistic about reservoirs and rivers filling up and the ground getting a thorough soaking. 

However, then there wasn’t another drop of moisture for months. In fact, the December storm made headlines as nearly record-breaking, and then January was the second driest on record for much of Northern California. 

At the time of writing, February and March were also dry with weak storm systems moving through every couple of weeks but not dropping any significant moisture. 

So what does this mean for fire season? 

To start, most everyone can agree that there is no “fire season” anymore, especially in Northern California. Even though Big Sur saw the most rain from that storm in December, the ground moisture didn’t keep a wildfire from ripping through the beloved area in January, forcing evacuations and reminding people that even the winter months aren’t off-limits for fire. 

These unreliable weather patterns are a result of global temperatures warming, which disrupts ocean currents, and in turn, “normal” weather patterns. Extreme storms followed by extremely dry periods will become our norm, which doesn’t spell good news for fires. 

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Nature Conservancy told the New York Times, “We still get dry years and wet years but we don’t really get cold years anymore…No matter what, everything still dries out…We’re seeing bad fire years almost every year.”

And while dry periods this spring have allowed fire departments to organize more prescribed and controlled burns, which help to deter rapid fire spread and large-scale destruction, warmer temperatures are still on their way. 

With no rain in the forecast, California’s drought will continue, and with it will come fires. Let’s hope everyone stays vigilant to not accidentally start any fires this season and be prepared with evacuation plans and home hardening updates. 

Ember Defense | Home Hardening Plans

Living on the West Coast means we live with fire danger year-round now, especially for those who live in the WUI. What this means is that we need to take our safety and the safety of our homes into our own hands. 

There are ways now to help your home protect itself from burning down in the event of a wildfire. Called home hardening, these updates include retrofitting exterior vents with fire-proof vents which close up when encountered with high heat in order to block embers from entering. Another update includes all-metal gutter covers to deter the build-up of flammable debris. Wildfire roof sprinklers add another layer of protection to your home during a wildfire. And finally, spraying long-term fire retardant (LTR) around your property can help render the vegetation and material non-flammable. 

At Ember Defense, we perform home evaluations to see how we can prepare your home to protect itself. Then we install customized Vulcan Vents, the best option for fire-proof vents. We also install Valor Gutter Guards and different brands of wildfire roof sprinkler systems to protect your home and properties best. 

Finally, we offer our clients LTR services and spray the eco-friendly, long-lasting fire retardant Phos Chek Fortify around your home to help stop flames in their tracks and embers from igniting. While LTR application is best applied at the beginning of the season, we also offer Rapid Response membership services which allow us to come out to your property while a fire is burning nearby and apply the LTR. 

Be prepared this season and for seasons to come. Sign up for our newsletter and reach out to get on our home evaluation schedule. (415) 573-2400

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