Typically, California's wildfire season gains intensity between July and October. This is when temperatures rise, vegetation becomes extremely dry, and stronger winds develop.
The 2022 peak season that is beginning right now is approaching fast, and many are wondering just how bad it will this years wildfires be in California. This year's California grasses got a healthy boost when a string of rain storms provided light rain to Northern California in May and June.
However, while these rain systems may have prevented wildfire conditions from advancing in Northern California in June, they didn't provide enough rain to put a dent in the state's drought. Plus, these rains helped grasses grow more prolifically, which could provide more fuel for this year's wildfires. These grasses will dry out quickly in the summer heat when the state typically receives no or very little rain.
This year, fuel moisture levels, or the amount of water in the California vegetation, is at least four months ahead of where it should be in terms of dryness, officials said. In some cases, fuels are 40% drier than on this same day in 2016, which was, at the time, among the driest they’d ever seen.
Already this year, more than 2,000 fires have burned about 11,000 acres in the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. In May, the devastating Coastal fire in Orange County destroyed an estimated 20 homes.
The Sierra and Coast Ranges are expected to have above normal significant fire potential by August 2022, with some of these areas having above normal potential in July. By October, above normal significant fire potential will likely remain confined to the southern California coast where periods of Santa Ana winds are likely.