HomeOutdoorsNewsExperts Say Monsoons Kept California Safe From Dangerous Wildfires in 2022

Experts Say Monsoons Kept California Safe From Dangerous Wildfires in 2022

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the quieter-than-usual wildfire season, experts say Californians have managed to avoid blaze devastation due to monsoonal moisture. 

United State Forest Service Meteorologist Pete Curran spoke to CBS News about how Californians weren’t impacted by wildfires this year. “We had a very healthy monsoonal season,” he explained. “And by that, I mean, that we had moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that came across the desert … and brought us beneficial rain in the summer months. And even though the amounts weren’t great they did actually tamp down a little bit on our wildfire potential.”

Curran explained the rain with Tropical Storm Kay assisted in putting out the Fairview Fire earlier this year. He then discussed how the rain in early November and fewer Santa Ana wind events also played a major role. This was done by reducing the number and duration of the Golden State’s fires. 

Tirtha Banerjee, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, also explained California is keeping most wildfires smaller in size. The state is also not using a lot of resources. 

CBS News further reported that California also saw less dry lighting than in previous years. California has invested nearly $3 billion to manage the forests. This means performing prescribed burns. The state also has helicopters that allow pilots to fly at night and carry more water in the event of wildfires. 

Californians Feel ‘Really Lucky’ To Not Experience Excessive Wildfires in 2022

While speaking to the LA Times, Park Williams, an associate professor of geography at UCLA, spoke about the condition of California during this year’s wildfire season. 

“We got really lucky this year,” Williams said. “By the end of June, things were looking like the dice were loaded very strongly toward big fires because things were very dry, and there was a chance of big heat waves in the summer, and indeed we actually did have a really big heat wave this summer in September. But that coincided with some really well-timed and well-placed rainstorms.”

Along with the Fairview Fire, the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County was also taken out by rainstorms. “Precipitation was coming right at the time when it was most needed,” Williams continued. “Stuff was getting so dried out by these heat waves, and then at kind of like peak dryness, suddenly the skies opened up and soaked everything down, and it happened repeatedly.”

However, the wildfires in 2022 were destructive. During its 10-day run in September, the Mill Fire destroyed an entire neighborhood. Both McKinney and Oak fires in Mariposa County each destroyed nearly 200 structures. The Coastal fire in Orange County in May claimed around 20 homes.

 “This past year, really, the tremendous amount of combined proactive efforts that were put forth by state and local and tribal and federal agencies here in California really did result in less damaging, less destructive fire impacts,”  California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci added.