California is so hot and dry that not even soaking rain can ease fall fire peril
SAN FRANCISCO — When fire threatens the state’s famous San Francisco Bay Area, California’s National Weather Service has no choice but to alert citizens and fire officials: Get out and protect your safety.
But even that may not mean anything for the firefighters who have been battling blazes across Golden State for three weeks now.
During extreme fire weather, weather service computer models have been programmed to issue severe drought warnings, fire threats and warnings about hazardous lightning and severe thunderstorm activity.
But the warnings that come from these models are not designed to persuade people to evacuate or go into hiding. Instead, they are intended to alert the fire fighters and emergency managers on the front lines. But even those warning signs seem to be working little better than the ones you find on your front stoop.
Although the weather service often warns residents to evacuate or shelter inside when it fears severe wildfires and severe storms could strike and spread rapidly, it is still recommending that residents stay in their homes.
“The weather service is still on the same page as us. They’ve been telling us to stay inside and not to come out when we are under threat. We are at risk, and they say don’t come out until the end, and when will that be?” said Fire Chief Richard Shatto of the Los Padres National Forest, where winds and low humidity and heat threaten to push the California wildfires to new heights.
“So, we are in a situation where we are going up against the wind, and the wind is going up, and the temperature is going up, and we are still in a situation where the weather service is telling us to sit at home and not come out. We’re going to stay home because of that.”
The National Weather Service’s latest emergency information for Southern and Northern California (PDF) emphasizes this:
“Do not enter or leave buildings during a severe fire in an evacuation zone except as specified by local officials. If you are in an evacuation area, stay in shelters that provide adequate protection during a severe fire.”
When fire threatens the San Francisco Bay Area during severe heat and dry winds, people need to protect themselves with the same protective measures they use when there is a flood or earthquake.
But there’s one