California Wildfire Map Shows Areas at High Risk for Future Fires This Year

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) has released the latest forecast for California wildfires for the remainder of the year.

The agency is predicting above-normal potential of "significant" wildfires in both northern and southern California over September and October, but expects the risk in northern California to fall back to normal come November and December. Sections of southern California, however, remains at above-normal levels from Santa Barbara down to the Mexican border.

"August represents the peak of fire season for the western United States
and above normal significant fire potential is expected across much of the Great Basin, northern California, Pacific Northwest, and northern Rockies," the seasonal fire assessment said.

"As precipitation and cooler temperatures arrive in fall, areas of concern will shift southward to portions of California as offshore wind events become more likely. Without a robust monsoon and potentially delayed fall precipitation, fuels will remain very dry across much of California," the NIFC added.

September Wildfire Forecast
National Interagency Fire Center's wildfire outlook for September 2020. National Interagency Fire Center

The Golden State has been ravaged by wildfires this summer. Of the top five largest California wildfires, three are from this past August.

As of August 30, more than 7,000 fires that have chewed through over 1.8 million acres this year, according to data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The largest California wildfire this year has been the SCU Lightening Complex, which continues to burn across five counties since it began on August 16. As of Friday, the East and South Bay fire has burned almost 400,000 acres but is 82 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

The second largest fire is also active. The LNU Lightening Complex in Napa and Sonoma County started a day before the SCU wildfire, but has burned a thousand acres less and is currently 87 percent contained.

Comparing this year's fire activity to last years, there have not only been more wildfires, but they have also been bigger.

From January 1 through August 30, this year reported over 2,000 more fires than the same time last year. Analyzing the acres burned, wildfires from this year also scorched 35 times the amount of acres than in 2019.

The forecast from NIFC also predicts below-normal potential along the Gulf Coast, all of Florida and much of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina for the month of September.

However, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, alongside the bulk of the Southern U.S., are expected to have above-normal risks during October and November.

Wildfire Forecast October
National Interagency Fire Center's wildfire outlook for October 2020. National Interagency Fire Center
November Wildfire Forecast
National Interagency Fire Center's wildfire outlook for November 2020. National Interagency Fire Center
December Wildfire Forecast
National Interagency Fire Center's wildfire outlook for December 2020. National Interagency Fire Center

Newsweek reached out to the NIFC for comment but did not hear back before publication.