Over the last fifty years, our country has been feeling a bit burnt out by all the news about wildfires. Unfortunately, this topic will not be extinguished anytime soon as we continue to battle through hotter and drier days featuring lowered humidity and windier conditions. Those weather ingredients for fire danger are only being fueled even more by climate change.
The change in fire weather days continues to significantly expand in the western United States. The wildfire season is lengthening and the fires themselves are becoming more intense and deadly. Meanwhile, many parts of the eastern half of the country have seen smaller but impactful increases in fire weather.
For instance, when you look at the different, designated climate zones in the United States, you find the most change in fire weather days occurring in the western and southwestern U.S. In Vermont, our fire weather days have increased about 4 days since the early 1970s which seems small, but in actuality, that’s a big change for a part of the country that does not typically have to deal with fiery disasters. This eye-opening reality is only made worse as nearly 28 million homes in the eastern United States are located in zones prone to burn. Yet again, this is another example of how climate change is putting more people’s lives at risk.