Monday, April 04, 2005

Experts Predict Bad Wildfire Season in Western United States...Again

Suprise, Surprise, "experts" have predicted that the 2005 wildfire season will be bad in the West. In this April 4, 2005 AP story, the named culprit in the Northwest is unusually low snowfall. And in the Southwest, the suspect is record rainfall. Yes, record high rainfall is now a predictor of a really bad wildfire season. I remember way back when record low rainfall was the best indicator of a bad wildfire season, say in 2003 when this UPI story warned of a bad, upcoming fire season because of a lingering drought.

If these doomsday predictions sound familiar, there's a good reason. Some hasty internet research revealed the following wildfire season projections for 1999-2004:

  • In 2004, predicted a bad wildfire season because of "unseasonably warm and dry" air with "little moisture in the forecast."
  • In 2003, besides the UPI story mentioned above, Jim Mann of the Daily Inter Lake reported in this August 28 article that a windy, dry cold front was going to make a bad fire season.
  • In 2002, Christopher Thorne of the AP reported that the upcoming fire season was going to be worse because of "below-normal rainfall" and lack of federal funding. Arizona Governor Jane Hull warned of a "very, very bad [fire] season" and seemed to blame the recent rash of Phoenix-area fires on children playing with matches, even though no scenario like that was ever suspected. Not to be outdone, an NPR affiliate predicted a "very bad fire season" because of "ultry dry conditions" in parts of the West.
  • In 2001, Reuters reported that officials at the National Interagency Fire Center predicted a "potential record-breaking fire season" because of "bone-dry conditions, coupled with thick underbrush." In this May 12, 2001 article, Douglas Jehl of The New York Times reports that a "drought in the West [was] raising fears of another bad fire season." Red Cross staff writer Stephania Kriner predicted a dangerous U.S. fire season because of "lingering drought, below-normal snow pack and ice storms that felled trees in several states." She reported that Red Cross spokesperson Bob Hall claimed that the conditions were ideal for fires because...get this...there was "snow on the ground but [with] little moisture in it."
  • In 2000, Paul Fattig of the Jackson County, Oregon Mail Tribune wrote that a representative of the Oregon Department of Forestry predicted a bad fire season and said that a wildfire could be sparked by "Memorial Day weekend, which marks the traditional beginning of camping season and related outdoor activities." Other culprits, according to the spokesman were campfires, barbecues, and dried grass in residential areas. CBS News blamed the bad fire season on federal budget cuts, "dryer than dry drought spawned by La Nina," and a weather system that diverted moisture away from the West by redirecting the jet stream.
  • In 1999, in an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times a bad fire season was forecast because of "excess wood levels in the nation's forests" because of "a century of U.S. Forest Service mismanagement."

This is getting old. Basically there are two ways to look at it:

  1. This is a major case of the "boy who cried wolf". The extraordinary need to make doomsday predictions to advance a Global Warming agenda is wearing thin.
  2. The same folks that brought you Global Warming theory (read: enviro-fascists) have effectively shut down tree-cutting and undergrowth cleanup efforts that, in the past, reduced the likelihood of massive, out-of-control wildfires.

Take your pick.

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