In New California Disaster Era of 'Fire-Floods,' Where Will Deadly Debris Flows Strike Next?

(TNS) - Brent Larson awoke at 4 a.m. to the shake and rumble of what felt like a freight train rolling down the hill toward his Santa Barbara County home.

He leaped from his bed and woke his two sons. In seconds, a wall of water, mud and rock slammed into his house, smashing through one window, then the next, then a third, pouring in as the trio sprinted to the safety of the chimney at the home’s far corner.

“It was like out of ‘Indiana Jones,’” he said, nine months later, still shaken.

More Intense Heat Waves in California’s Future, According to New Assessment

In the wake of hurricanes Florence and Michael and myriad other devastating storms and wildfires stacking up during the last decade, an updated assessment of California’s changing climate offers the projection of more of the same.

The assessment said Californians can expect more heat and more extreme weather, which would lead to more wildfires, floods, drought and public health issues. California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment was produced as part of a volunteer initiative by climate experts. The assessment updates the third one issued in 2012.

California Heads into its Peak Fire Season with State-Sized Burn Scar

California is poised to set an annual record it never wanted to break: the amount of earth scorched by wildfires.

Blazes have already ripped through enough acres to blacken the entire state of Delaware, and what’s typically California’s worst month for fires is just beginning. At least 11 people have died this year from wildfires that shut down Yosemite National Park, drove thousands from their homes and destroyed more than 2,000 buildings. And forecasters say prospects for rain are slim.

Using Technology To Assess Wildfire Risk And Combat Wildfires

Wildfires in the U.S. have become more common and catastrophic than ever before. Citizens, local governments and the $2.2 trillion property and casualty insurance industry continue to be caught by surprise due to the severity and frequency of these events. So far in 2018, California alone has lost over 800,000 acres to fire, 250% more than the same period in 2017. Last year was the worst wildfire season in California history. An intense series of fires in Northern California destroyed more than 200,000 acres and killed 44 people.

With significant urban damage, 2017 also saw global insured losses from wildfires reaching a record $14 billion. Global losses from catastrophic events such as hurricanes and floods have steadily increased over the past decade, but wildfire-related losses in 2017 completely blindsided the property and casualty insurance industry.

California Will Spend $1 Billion on Wildfire Prevention, Give Some Relief to Utility Companies

(TNS) — SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With an eye toward destructive wildfire as California’s most immediate climate emergency, Gov. Jerry Brown took action on Friday to broadly expand state prevention efforts while allowing utility companies to shift some fire-related costs to their customers.

The far-reaching proposal signed by Brown boosts government fire protection efforts by $1 billion over the next five years, providing funds that could help clear thousands of acres of dense, dry forests and brittle coastal brush. The bill’s combination of cash and regulatory relief mark a major escalation in addressing what’s been called the “new normal” of fire danger for the state, far beyond what’s been spent on immediate emergency responses.

Largest Wildfire in California History Officially 100% Contained

Officials announced on Wednesday that the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest wildfire in California’s history, is now 100 percent contained.

The blaze burned a combined 459,123 acres, destroyed 280 structures including 157 residences, killed one firefighter and injured four others. The Mendocino fire north of San Francisco broke the record set in December, 2017, when the Thomas Fire killed two people, burned 440 square miles and destroyed more than 1,000 buildings in Southern California.

California’s Governor: Insurance Fared Better in Wildfires Bill

California lawmakers didn’t go as far as Governor Jerry Brown wanted to address potential liabilities for utilities from wildfires, and the governor said that “it’s hard to say” if they ever would.

Brown, citing longstanding practice, declined to say if he would sign the bill passed last month that included measures considered beneficial for utilities such as PG&E Corp. But the wide-ranging plan didn’t tackle the issue of inverse condemnation, in which utilities can be held liable for costs if their equipment is found to have caused a fire — regardless of whether they followed safety rules. Brown had pushed a proposal that would have given utilities relief from the rule, which was opposed by insurance companies, trial lawyers and fire victims.

Wildfire season: Is this the new normal?

More than 500 wildfires were still burning in B.C. in September, with the Yukon, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and parts of the Atlantic provinces all experiencing one of the worst fire seasons in history. Globally, wildfires in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Sweden and Australia are burning at an alarming rate.

According to John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change and director of the University of Saskatchewan-led Global Water Futures Program (GWF), this is a horrific year for wildfires not only in Canada, but around the world.

"You do not expect extensive wildfire in Swedish mountain tundra or in Welsh mountains, but we see that this year," said Pomeroy. "This is further evidence of remarkably fast changes in climate around the world as a result of new extremes of heat and variable precipitation, due to human-introduced greenhouse gasses."

US wildfire smoke deaths could double by 2100

The number of deaths associated with the inhalation of wildfire smoke in the U.S. could double by the end of the century, according to new research.

A new study simulating the effects of wildfire smoke on human health finds continued increases in wildfire activity in the continental United States due to climate change could worsen air quality over the coming decades. The number of human deaths from chronic inhalation of wildfire smoke could increase to more than 40,000 per year by the end of the 21st century, up from around 15,000 per year today.

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