Wildfire numbers not good news for Arizona - Tucson News Now

Wildfire numbers not good news for Arizona

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Fire season in Arizona ramps up in the dry, warm spring weather. This year is exceptionally dry with rain at the Tucson International Airport totaling 0.61" as of May 20. The average is 2.98", putting TIA 2.37" behind the average. Plus, over 98 percent of Arizona is experiencing some level of drought severity. Add to that stands of dead trees due to bark beetle infestations, and the wildfire risk is high in many areas of the state this spring.

While Arizona wildland firefighters have already battled numerous fires, the season has yet to turn destructive or deadly. As of May 20, there are two active wildfires in Arizona. Both the Skunk Fire and Barlow Fire are burning on reservation land northeast of Tucson. Neither of these fires are fully contained, and officials continue to monitor the blazes closely as firefighters work to suppress the danger.  

As average temperatures rise into June and dry weather continues until the monsoon becomes active in the state, fire danger becomes an ever-increasing threat. Even early monsoon storms can spark fires. These storms are generally moisture deprived with little to no rain falling to the ground, but lightning flashing downward, sparking fires in the dry desert brush. 

Recently Climate Central took a look back at Arizona's wildfire numbers from years past. And the news isn't good.  

According to Climate Central "The number of acres burning on federal land in Arizona each year is, on average, nearly 10 times more now than was typical in the 1970s; and the number of large wildfires is 5 times more than was typical in the 1970s."

  

And it is not just Arizona experiencing this rise in wildfire risk. Climate Central's Alyson Kenward analyzed the data for 11 western states and found the burn season is now an average of 75 days longer than it was 43 years ago. Plus, evidence shows the wildfire season is are starting earlier and becoming longer. 

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