Santa Ana winds and power line failures found to be behind autumn and winter fires in Southern California

Posted: July 26, 2021 by oldbrew in data, flames, research, Temperature, trees, wind


Smoke from forest fires in Southern California [image credit: NASA]

Will this be the end of climate alarmists feeding their confirmation biases over these events, resulting in the usual hysteria against atmospheric gases generated by humans? Almost certainly not, as they can still cling to the notion that the summer fires aren’t mostly due to lightning, arson or faulty power lines. Another report says: ‘Further analyses suggested that large fires were not associated with higher temperatures’.
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A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in the U.S. and one in Canada has found that the increasing number of large fires in Southern California during the autumn and winter months is mostly due to the Santa Ana winds and power line failures, rather than rising temperatures, reports

In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of fires in Southern California going back to 1948.

Large wildfires in California regularly make the news because of their magnitude and ferocity.

Some studies have shown that they are increasing in frequency and intensity as the planet grows warmer.

In this new effort, the researchers note that there are two fire seasons in California, but only one of them is growing worse due to climate change [Talkshop comment – debatable].

In California, the two fire seasons are summer and autumn through winter. Prior research has shown that most summer fires are ignited by lightning in remote locations.

Autumn and winter fires, on the other hand, are almost always ignited by humans via arson and power line failures.

Power lines can start a fire in several ways, including downed lines, vegetation contact and equipment failures that lead to arcing. And because power lines are strung in places where people live and work, such fires tend to be closer to towns and cities.

Power line failures can occur at any time during the year, but autumn and winter season have the worst fires because they are pushed by the speed and strength of the Santa Ana winds.

To learn more about autumn and winter fires, the researchers pored over data describing wildfires in Southern California from 1948 to 2018 along with associated weather data.

In so doing, they found no link between rising temperatures or decreases in rainfall to account for the increase in fires. Instead, they found it was mostly due to increases in the size of power grids and encroachment by humans onto forested lands.

They suggest that the way to reduce the number of such fires is to put more resources into maintaining power lines and put new ones underground.

Full report here.
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PG&E got the message:
California Power Company Plans to Bury 10,000 Miles of Power Lines
JULY 25, 2021

  1. Curious George says:

    Power line failures only ignite a fire. The problem is an accumulation of fuel.

  2. oldbrew says:

    JUL 26, 2021
    ‘Gov. Gavin Newsom failed to keep his $1 billion promise to clear vegetation from forests that could fuel fires’.
    . . .
    ‘Overall, California’s response has faltered under Newsom. After an initial jump during his first year in office, data obtained by CapRadio and NPR’s California Newsroom show Cal Fire’s fuel reduction output dropped by half in 2020, to levels below Gov. Jerry Brown’s final year in office. At the same time, Newsom slashed roughly $150 million from Cal Fire’s wildfire prevention budget.’

    Does he want more wildfires, so he can keep whining about ‘climate change’ and kid people it’s their fault?

  3. Curious George says:

    His priority is a high-speed train from Bakersfield to Merced (get a good map), $4bn budgeted.

    I never before thought about a wildfire in the terms of responsibility – is the spark provider more responsible than the fuel provider? The spark provider is usually a power company or Mother Nature, almost never the state. So the fuel provider bears no responsibility.

  4. Gamecock says:

    Cool pic from NASA. Clearly shows wind reversed from normal prevailing wind.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Picture source:

    ‘The Santa Anas are katabatic winds—Greek for “flowing downhill”, arising in higher altitudes and blowing down towards sea level.’

  6. Coeur de Lion says:

    Wildfire extents 10 times more in the 1930’s. Look it up.

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