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Local News

NV sees drastic increase in number of fire weather days


Alex Gonzalez, Public News Service

new report finds that climate change is affecting weather conditions in ways that increase wildfire risk, with the West seeing the greatest jump in fire weather days in spring and summer. Climate Central found that some places in Nevada now experience fire weather around twice as often as in the early 1970s.

Kaitlyn Trudeau, senior research associate in climate science with Climate Central, said fire weather refers to the meteorological conditions that kickstart the spread of fire. And with Nevada being one of the states seeing more days with persistent hotter temperatures, lower relative humidity and stronger winds, it’s something that Trudeau said she wasn’t terribly surprised to see.

“But I also want people to remember that fire weather isn’t necessarily the same thing as fire. You might have fire weather conditions; that doesn’t mean that there will be an extra month of fires. It just means that the conditions are really primed to enable these kinds of monster fires,” she explained.

Trudeau contends that as we continue to see the increasing influence of human-caused climate change, humans need to rethink their impact on the environment, and hopes the report will serve as a wake-up call and help people understand risks where they live.

With summer approaching, the U.S. Fire Administration has a list of seven steps that communities can enact in an effort to be more prepared. Trudeau added that other fire adaptation strategies include increased use of land-management techniques, such as prescribed burns, that eliminate excessive fuels, but even those have become more of a challenge.

“And in order to do prescribed burning, you have to have a very specific set of weather conditions, and they’re basically the opposite of fire weather conditions, because it is really dangerous to burn anything when you have really hot, dry, windy days,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau added that as the number of fire weather days increases, that also decreases the ability to do things such as prescribed burning. She encourages people around the country to create defensible space around their homes as well as having toolkits and an evacuation plan in case of an emergency.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.