Large swaths of southern California and the Central Valley will be at risk for wildfires forming early next week, according to the National Weather Service, which warns conditions there could lead to “rapid fire spread.”
More than 5.5 million people live in an area that faces a “critical” wildfire risk Monday, including cities like Sacramento and Stockton, along with much of the rest of the Central Valley.
Concerns will extend to the southern part of the state, including Los Angeles, on Tuesday, though the risk level is forecast to drop to “elevated” instead of critical.
Dry conditions and high winds, in part due to a trough, forecasters say, will be “oriented perfectly with the California Central Valley” will act to fuel wildfires should they form, according to the National Weather Service.
This has been an extremely active fire season across California, along with much of the western United States. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, nearly 2 million acres have burned in the state so far in 2021, damaging or destroying 3,050 structures. The rate of fires has slowed a bit in the past few months, after the state was on pace during the first half of the year to eclipse the record-setting number of wildfires recorded there last year. Wildfire destruction in 2020 shattered records, with more than 4.2 million acres burned, over 10,000 structures either damaged or destroyed and 33 confirmed deaths.
Concerns over the past few days have centered on northern California, where the majority of the state’s wildfires are burning. One of the biggest worries has been over the fate of giant sequoia trees in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, which have been scorched by wildfires that began last month. Hundreds of giant sequoias, which are the biggest trees in the world, are feared to have been lost in the blazes.