LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new study on the climate reports that the moisture content in western states is lower than it’s been in 125 year, which is sparking concern for a record number of wildfires.
Meteorologist Mark Jackson with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told CBSLA’s Jeff Nguyen that a map from the US Drought Monitor confirms that the soil in the western US is record dry for this time of year.
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“This year, 73 percent of the state right now is in what’s considered to be extreme to exceptional droughts,” Jackson said. “We’ve had very dry periods like around 2015 where downtown Los Angeles had hardly any rainfall at all for the winter season.”
Sarah Wedel, who lives in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains with her family, lived through the Bobcat fire last year, but from the looks of the surrounding neighborhood, the threat of fire has become almost year round.
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“You hear the helicopters. It definitely brings back a lot of memories. Just the winds the other day made us think about it all over again,” Wedel said. “So, I think we feel like we never got a reprieve this season.”
The Chief of the Pasadena Fire Department, Chad Augustin, who recently moved to the southland from Northern California, said he’s nervous since last year was the worst fire season on record and this year is shaping up to be even worse.
Because of the lack of rain, brush that hasn’t burned in decades can easily fuel wildfires, which is why scientists and fire chiefs are asking people to keep a defensible space around their homes and take evacuation alerts seriously.
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“I had our cars packed with our belongings for six weeks last fall,” Wedel said.