California Wildfires 2020

Georgia Kirkendall

Sound familiar? California has been facing its fierce enemies that are wildfires for what feels like forever by now. And this year fire records are reaching higher than ever before, with 4.1 million scorched acres and 31 deaths. However, according to the forecast, this flaming storm has yet to reach its peak. “This event is forecast to be the strongest event of the year so far for the region. Consequently, the potential fire weather impacts will be extreme,” states the National Weather Service. 

High winds- up to 80 mph in Northern California- further increase the probability of quick-to-catch flames. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Assistant Deputy Director Daniel Berlant said “This event could bring the strongest winds seen this year. The winds are expected to be widespread across much of Northern California, but it’s the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada and the North Bay where the highest winds are expected.” These outrageous winds are generated by a push of an Arctic air mass into the Rockies, creating drastic differences in zone pressures. 

Utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) have been preparing for potentially damaging storms, ready to cut power to customers during red flag fire conditions to ensure safety. PG&E are right to be extra cautious, especially with being convicted of manslaughter in 2018 by causing massive California fires (see “California Wildfire Investigation”). Cutting power will leave 466,000 people in 38 counties without electricity. 

California’s Office of Emergency is increasing staff and advising those on hilly residents, such as those in Berkeley Hills, to consider evacuating before the storm hits. The Emergency Services also told Calfornians to stay on their toes, keeping cash, water, cellphones, and protective equipment handy for the bumpy road ahead.