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California’s Current Drought Might Be Tiny Compared to What’s Coming

If history repeats itself, then it’s not looking good for Southern California

(NASA)
smithsonian.com

Thousands of acres of San Diego County burned this week, fueled by unseasonable Santa Ana winds and high temperatures. Temperatures in the area even reached past the 100 degree mark this week—even in Southern California, it's not usually that hot in May.

California’s record setting drought is literally adding fuel to the fire, providing plenty of dry vegetation for the wildfires to devour. The current drought, though, is only record-breaking for the period of time in which recordsa have been kept. Scientists who've looked back further in the past have found periods of drought that last much longer. The San Jose Mercury News reported a few months back: 

Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years -- compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.

For the present, California’s Governor's Office of Emergency Services issued a statement warning that this year’s wildfire season is looking to be "especially destructive." But if it's possible the current drought is, compared to what's to come, a short one, this wildfire season, too, might come to seem relatively tame.

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