Drought Emergency? Pt 2

Drought Emergency? Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
I'm Bob Larson. Are we crying wolf too often when it comes to drought? University of Washington Atmospheric Sciences Professor Cliff Mass says Governor Inslee's expanded drought emergency, covering nearly half the state, bears watching, but overall, we're in pretty decent shape water-wise.

And, Mass says it's also no reason to sound the alarm for bigger, fiercer wildfires ...

MASS ... "There's no reason to expect there won't be fires, but I don't think there's any reason to expect it'll be any different than normal or typical at this point."

And when it comes to blaming our wildfires on climate change ...

MASS ... "A lot of this is not really dealing with climate, it's dealing with that we have poorly managed forests that have a tendency to burn. People have moved out into the interface between urban and wildland areas and people starting fires from all kinds of recreational and other activities. So, it's as much as what we've done to the surface as it is climate."

Mass hesitates to call our recent wildfire season the "new normal" ...

MASS ... "I mean, you have to separate the new normal. Is it the weather changed or the surface has changed? And, we've had a little bit of a warm up, but the climate change has been pretty minor. But we've really done, you know, some bad things to our forests, we have a lot of invasive grasses like cheat grass that are spread around and a lot more people in these areas. So, there could be more fires just because of what we've done at the surface and that means we have to deal with the damage we've done to the forests and other things."

Mass says wildfires are nature's way of thinning the forests and after 50-years of improved fire suppression, it's catching up with us.

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