Before the Fact: Why Another Big Wildfire Season May Be on the Way
March and April have been wet again in California. This provides us some valuable clues as to what is coming down the road.
As you can see, much of California has had above-normal rainfall over the last two months.
This indicates a couple of things. First, here’s a look at the last two months.
They look much like pre-El Niño Modoki years —years when we were starting the transition to El Niños during which water temperatures were warmer in the central Pacific than the eastern Pacific. Specifically 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2014.
Notice the wet California, the relatively dry western Plains, the corridor of above-normal rain from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley, and a very dry Florida.
Notice what happened in May and June in those pre-El Niño years. Keep a close watch on Florida. There was a major reversal in the Northeast also.
Now look at the upcoming period through June 1.
While it’s wetter in the West, the patterns look almost the same. By the way, that dry area in Texas could be a big source of major heat this summer. When it’s dry, you fry, but wetter areas tend to be cooler.
The Florida drought and the ensuing reversal has precedence with an event that is perfectly natural, as does what is going on in Texas. In fact, it’s telling us to look for El Niño to evolve later this year because the transitory pattern produces a certain kind of pattern that is linked and is showing up now. This is how you use the past and the present to get a head start on the future.
Now, about the wildfire season. Like last year, it’s intuitive why wetness in the early part of the year means trouble. Quite frankly, the buildup in California means residents simply put themselves in positions where nature causes them problems. The population has grown from 14 million in 1956 to close to 40 million today. When you almost triple the population the way California has, you are most certainly going to have more people affected by nature.
As an environmentalist, I think the abuse of nature is not from excess CO2 but from man thumbing his nose at nature and building and paving ill-suited areas and then turning around and blaming something other than the actual cause. When you build houses on beaches that have been shifting forever, what do you think should happen? When you build houses in places that for years were forested, what do you think has to happen?
Look, it’s your choice if you wish to do that. But don’t go blaming nature when she simply does what she does. Telling me something unprovable — like it rained an extra 5% because there’s an extra .01% of CO2 in the atmosphere — is simply blame-throwing, tantamount to a five-year-old with building blocks blaming the kid next to him when his blocks fall down. What adds insult to injury with the rain aspect (or drought, depending on what is occurring at the time) is if you had natural drainage instead of all that concrete, you might not have extreme flooding problems.
Then again, nature is bound to rampage at times, cause that’s what nature does. But my point is that above-average rain, a natural occurrence, two years in a row is certainly going to mean more problems in a naturally dry climate — one where people think they can live just about anywhere and be immune to the wrath of nature (which, by the way, they are much of the time, but there is sometimes a price to pay).
In terms of the climate discussion, this was yet another major reversal of a supposedly anthropogenic global warming-induced perma drought (remember when Texas was heading into a new dust bowl in 2013?). There is nothing magical, mystical or man-made about it, except the idea that you are building more structures in places where back in the 1950s a wildfire would not have had as much impact on humans.
This campaign has been going on since I was a kid. I am 62, and I remember well the Smokey Bear commercials, except they have changed. “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires” is now “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” Actually, that’s not true. Nature plays a big part also, and you aren’t going to prevent nature from doing what nature does. That is why a lot of the global warming missive is flat-out arrogance.
Let’s get back to linking the past to the future, specifically in regards to next winter. What kind of precipitation occurred in the El Niño winters that followed?
These types of El Niños are not wet in California. However, they are wet and cold farther east, so here I am using what is happening now as a hint for next winter.
You can thank me if I’m right.
Here is the point, What you see now is not only something that has happened before, it’s pointing the way to what is going to happen. Now imagine in the fall if there are wildfires blazing away. What do you think will be blamed? Or, if like our hurricane forecast is hinting at, imagine a storm blows up in someone’s backyard. (Do not be surprised if there is an early season development in the Gulf or western Caribbean this year. That too fits past patterns.) What will get blamed? And if next winter is cold and snowy in a lot of places, what will happen when storms are pounding away? Three of those four winters are among the who’s who of snowy winters for snow lovers, and the one that isn’t had the coldest February on record in parts of the Midwest. What will get blamed? All that having been said, I have issued a Climate Ambulance Chaser Watch.
Here is what I can say to you on May 17: If I’m right, you are seeing the why before the what occurring right in front of your eyes. And for those with eyes, if I tell you what it is, you can see what it isn’t.
Joe Bastardi, a pioneer in extreme weather and long-range forecasting, is a contributor to The Patriot Post on environmental issues. He is the author of “The Climate Chronicle: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — and Others.”