This year, the West Coast will experience an above normal wildfire season. Many factors contribute to experts’ predictions. Rain and snow fell throughout the winter and spring in California. While this helped the state recover from a seven-year-long drought, it also encouraged exponential growth in grasses and wildflowers.
As the weather becomes hotter and drier throughout the summer, these greens will dry out and turn brown. When fires do start in the summer and fall, these dry grasses will act as kindling, encouraging fires to go further, faster. In the fall, Santa Ana winds also increase, blowing dry air from inland deserts toward the populated Pacific Coast.
The California fire season generally peaks in October due to these two conditions.
After authorities determined the cause of 2018’s Camp Fire to be sparks from PG&E power lines, the utility introduced proactive power shutoffs. This year, PG&E will execute power shutoffs when conditions, including whipping winds and high temperatures, make wildfires more likely. Every single one of PG&E’s more than five million customers could be affected by the shutoff policy.
With 2019’s wildfire season likely to be an active one, California residents should be prepared for blackouts throughout the year. While some see living without power as an inconvenience, it is deadly for others. Many Californians rely on life-saving medical devices at all times. Other equipment powered by electricity may seem like a luxury. However, for vulnerable populations such as the very young and elderly, things like air filtration systems and air conditioning can be a matter of life or death.
Households that need electricity at all times should consider investing in backup power such as a generator. With proper maintenance and placement, it is safe to rely on generators during wildfire season.