Drought has huge impact on fire season

REDDING, Calif. - The drought has had a huge impact on the 2014 fire season. The 2013-2014 rain season wrapped up on June 30, ending as the second driest on record, back to 1893. Redding recorded 17.77 inches of precipitation. This keeps all of Northern California in either an extreme or exceptional drought.

Vegetation is very dry and snow pack is very low for this time of year. The drought has shifted fire season earlier for 2014. As of early July, vegetation dryness is characteristic of mid August. Since the drought has been ongoing for the last few years, dead vegetation build-up adds to the fuels.

"As the drought continues to persist, it really weakens the vegetation and timber in the foothills and higher elevations, so we continue to see this die-off and build up on the floor. That increases the fuels as we head into fire season every year." said KRCR News Channel 7 Meteorologist Rob Elvington.

CAL FIRE has a team of meteorologists that put out weekly fire danger outlooks. The meteorologists look at soil and vegetation moisture to determine what areas might be at risk for wildfires. They also look at chance of lightning and wind events for the week. For most of the summer, Northern California's vegetation has been in the "very dry" category.

"Rainfall-wise, it's quite bad. Of course the reservoirs where we get the water to fight fires in some cases, that's a problem, for the public that's a problem." said meteorologist Stephen Leach.

Thunderstorms are common this time of year, and can provide rain, but Leach said this area might be better off without one. Thunderstorms can also cause dry lightning that can lead to wildfires.

All of California has years of drought to make up for. KRCR News Channel 7 chief meteorologist Mike Krueger is hopeful northern California can recover.

"Historically what we've seen for about two to three years of drought, many times we'll see tremendous amounts of rainfall after that. So we can only hope that this time around when we go into the 2014-2015 season, we can make up for what we lost."  Krueger said.

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