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Wildfires in California

Koushik Chikku, Fremont, CA


A pandemic. Systemic racism. Political polarization. Now the sky is orange. There are a number of things that we just couldn’t predict facing us. However, the orange sky, caused by the returning wildfires throughout California, could have been prevented if we had followed the warnings earlier.

As the climate changes, and the atmosphere in California gets hotter and drier, one spark can result in a gigantic wildfire, destroying homes, wildlife, and families. They become so big and so hot that they create “fire thunderstorms,” scientifically known as pyrocumulonimbus clouds. These thunderstorms send soot and smoke all the way up the atmospheric column, 50,000 feet into the stratosphere. The heat also generates unusual winds that carries smoke from the Sierra Nevadas to the coast. All that gunk blocks out some of the sun, resulting in the devilish hue.


Although most of the damage done is irreversible, there are still practices we can implement to minimize the impact and occurrence of wildfires. These are 7 major tips:

  1. Report unattended fires.

  2. Extinguish fire pits and campfires when done.

  3. Don’t throw lit cigarettes out of your moving car.

  4. Use caution when using flammable liquids.

  5. Pay attention to local ordinances for trash burning.

  6. Only use fireworks in clear areas with no woods nearby.

  7. Pay attention to the risk of forest fires in your area.

Again, there isn’t much we can do to reverse the growing heat and dryness in the environment, but we can be careful - careful enough to not start the next wildfire.


Sources:

https://www.accuweather.com/en/accuweather-ready/simple-steps-to-prevent-wildfires/686346

https://www.wired.com/story/those-orange-western-skies-and-the-science-of-light/