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Burn, Baby; Burn!
By Ernest Stewart
With tens of millions of dead trees, record temperatures in June and a persistent drought that's lasted 4 years in California, and up to 17 years elsewhere in the West, to say that the forest is a tinderbox is clearly a vast understatement.
Experts are already predicting that Alaska and the Southwest will be hit hard by fires; while California could see its worst season yet.
Daniel Berlant, spokesman for state firefighting agency Cal Fire said, "Many areas of California are still in severe and exceptional drought. Over the past couple months, wildfire activity has quickly increased."
Across the United States, approximately 3,280 square miles have gone up in flames since the beginning of the year, including land burned by the 10 major fires currently raging, four of which are in the southwest states of Arizona and New Mexico (there are currently over 70 square miles on fire).
After four years of record drought in California, the slightest spark can set a wildfire ablaze. Forests, especially those in the Sierra Nevada, were put through the wringer, over 29 million trees are dead from the drought and beetle infestations.
Even Governor Moon Beam can see the potential, mobilizing emergency funds for what he's called "the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history."
Another major risk factor is the sheer heat, with temperatures not only poised to set new records, but also becoming dangerous in the southern half of California in the coming days. High temps around 120 degrees are adding to the problem this year -- so it may be much worse than last year's fires. You may recall that last year's fires set a record over 2014, which set a record over 2013...; well, you get the picture....
In Los Angeles, thermometers are expected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit; and in Palm Springs, the number climbs all the way to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. I once crossed Death Valley when it was 126 degrees; and that was all I could manage at 70 mph! Meanwhile, over in Iraq, the temperature is set to rise to 165 degrees! If you stick your hand in 165 degree water for just a minute you'll get a nasty burn; imagine what happens in 165 degree air temps -- without air-conditioning! How do you like global warming so far?
Lynne Tolmachoff, a Cal Fire spokesperson, said, "The dead trunks lying in the forest are equivalent to fuel waiting to be ignited; and we're only in June. If temperatures continue like this, it's going to make things difficult." Meanwhile, in Alaska, after the ground finally thawed the permafrost and all the trees started leaning this way and that, quite a few fell right on over and are just waiting for a spark to set the country-side ablaze!
The northwestern states of Washington and Oregon are also facing a drought. Last year, Washington state had the worst fire season in its history!
The National Interagency Coordination Center's predictive services program said, "The primary fire season is in June and July, and two areas are watched particularly closely-Alaska and the southwest. As seasonal drying progresses, expect above normal levels of significant fire potential to remain dominant though at least early July."
Still, on a positive note, in a few years there'll be no more forest fires out West, because everything out there'll have been burnt to ashes!
09-05-1933 ~ 06-17-2016
Thanks for the education and fulfillment!
03-11-1989 ~ 06-19-2016
Thanks for the helping J.J. destroy the series!!
02-25-1927 ~ 06-23-2016
Thanks for the music!
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Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2016 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 14 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.