The death toll, and acreage burned in the western USA continues to increase:
http://www.climatecentral.org/news/wild ... cres-19363
Drought-Fueled Wildfires Burn 7 Million Acres in U.S.
Sap a forest of rain — say, for three or four years — toss in seemingly endless sunshine and high temperatures, and you’ve got just the right recipe for some catastrophic wildfires.
Such is the story playing out in the West, where, thanks in part to climate change, drought-fueled infernos are incinerating forests at a record pace from Alaska to California, claiming the lives of 13 firefighters, destroying more than 900 structures and requiring firefighting agencies to call in help from the U.S. Army and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
Here’s the breakdown: As of Aug. 20, more than 41,300 wildfires have scorched more than 7.2 million acres in 2015, mostly in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. That’s nearly three times the 2.6 million acres that burned nationwide in 2014 and more land area than has burned in any other year over the last decade.
The blazes have consumed so much land this year because of the drought, fueled by record high temperatures during the warmest January-to-July period in history for the region...
The drought and high temperatures are stressing forests to the point where they can’t fend off the worst effects of wildfire, even in those forests that depend on occasional fires to survive...
The short-term outlook for wildfires in the West over the next few days calls for continued extreme dry, windy weather — a recipe for continued wildfire spread.
“We’re looking at the winds and the dry, lower humidities, dry weather,” Boehle said. Some areas of the Cascades that are burning could see winds gusting to 50 mph through Saturday, she said.
The bottom line, she said: “Not much improvement.”
In case you missed it, the Guardian's coverage of recent research connecting the present (and far more severe future) droughts to anthropogenic climate change:
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015 ... al-warmingContribution of anthropogenic warming to California drought during 2012–2014†http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 64924/full
Long-suffering California can blame drought on global warming, experts say
Latest report finds climate change intensified the drought in California from 2012 to 2014 and predicts ‘enhanced drought’ throughout 21st century
Global warming has increased the severity of the ongoing drought in California, as part of a larger trend of human-caused climate change intensifying dry weather spells, scientists said on Thursday.
Scientists predict that “enhanced drought” will continue in California throughout this century because global warming has “substantially increased” the likelihood of extreme droughts in the state.
Recent studies have looked at climate models to predict the future frequency of droughts while others have analyzed historical records to see the probability of drought. The paper published on Thursday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, however, looks at how much of the current drought can be blamed on global warming.
Scientists looked at factors that could impact the drought, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed and other factors and found that climate change intensified the drought in California between 8% and 27% in the period from 2012 to 2014.
Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University and the lead author of the paper, said he hoped the findings would motivate the state to continue thinking about its response to the drought with a long-term strategy.
“California, I believe, has a history of when droughts end, they have a history of discontinuing their efforts to improve resiliency to future drought because those efforts are costly in the short-term,” Williams said.
But this strategy is not sustainable, according to the study. “I hope that the measures that are under way now to improve resilience to droughts don’t end as soon as it gets wet again in a few years,” Williams said....
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Thursday that July was the hottest month in history since record-keeping began in 1880. This came a month after scientists announced that the first half of 2015 was the hottest recorded.
Jessica Blunden, a Noaa climate scientist, said that heat records like this were “getting to be a monthly thing”.