Nov 16, 2018
As firefighters in California battle to contain the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, a climate scientist says the reality on the ground is surpassing what a government report projected just months ago in assessing the links between climate change and an increasing frequency and severity of wildfires in the state.
After a dry summer and fall, powerful winds over the past week swept flames through the town of Paradise in Northern California, killing at least 48 people and destroying more than 7,500 homes, officials said Tuesday. Two more fires near Los Angeles chased more than 200,000 people from their homes as the flames quickly spread, adding to a string of fires that have caused billions of dollars in damage this year.
“I think what we have been observing has consistently been outpacing what we’ve been predicting,” said LeRoy Westerling, professor of management of complex systems at the University of California, Merced, who modeled the risk of future wildfires as part of the California Climate Change Assessment released in August.