42,000-foot plumes of ash. 143-mph firenadoes. 1,500-degree heat. These wildfires are a new kind of hell on earth, and scientists are racing to learn its rules...
By the time California’s 2018 fire season was over, it had burned more than 1.6 million acres to become the most destructive on record—a title it maintained for slightly less than 20 months, when it was overtaken not by the 2020 fire season but by a mere four weeks in late summer 2020, during which an estimated 3 million acres burned. But that’s not the truly worrisome part. In making sense of Western wildfires, total acres burned are far less important than the increasingly capricious violence of our most extreme blazes. It is as if we’ve crossed some threshold of climate and fire fuel into an era of uncontrollable conflagrations.
“Not only is the size and severity increasing, but the nature of fire is changing,” says David Saah, director of Pyregence, a group of fire-science labs and researchers collaborating on the problem. Still more concerning, given the trend toward fires dramatically more catastrophic than anything we’ve yet seen: The physics of large-scale wildfires remain so poorly understood that fire-modeling software is often effectively powerless to predict where they will next occur, much less how they will unfold once they do. If there is any good news, it is that, as Saah puts it, “the science for a lot of this stuff is under way.”
If you’re interested in how a large portion of this nation is being destroyed in a war between nature and nature management that hasn’t kept up with reality…better read this article. If you live out here in the West – as I do – you should read it for a better chance at survival.