Southern California Fires Expand to Over 255,000 Acres as Conditions Worsen

On Sunday, driven by above normal temperatures and fanned by warm winds, the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California rapidly expanded. This resulted in a loss of containment as the blaze jumped fire breaks — placing parts of Santa Barbara under seige.

(Smoke plumes from the Thomas fire as seen by a webcam located atop Santa Ynez Peak, a 4300′ mountain 17 miles northwest of downtown Santa Barbara.)

This single fire, as of Monday morning, covered 230,000 acres. At that time, it was the fifth largest fire in California history. It was burning in December. And, at the time, the fire was continuing to swiftly grow.

Five other fires burning in Southern California together cover an additional 25,000+ acres. As a result, approximately 255,000 acres are now burning in this region of the state.

The 6,000 firefighters now engaged in battling these blazes had hoped that predicted milder Santa Ana winds would afford them a chance to gain an advantage over these fires this weekend. But this didn’t happen. The western high pressure ridge strengthened. Local temperatures increased to well above the seasonal average. And though winds subsided somewhat, very dry conditions dominated.

Due to the worsening situation, 25,000 structures are now threatened by the fires — up from 20,000 earlier this week. More than 790 structures have been burned or destroyed. More than 95,000 people remain under evacuation orders. And more than 85,000 people are without power. Tragically, the fires have now claimed their first human life as well.

Unfortunately, warmer than normal, dry and windy conditions are expected to continue through at least Friday, December 15th. Resulting in a long running period of heightened fire danger. These climate change related features are driven by a very persistent high pressure ridge over the North American west. A feature that has been linked to loss of sea ice and a warming Arctic in some climate studies.

Overall, climate change is worsening fire danger out west. During summer, hotter and drier conditions are intensifying the California fire season. And during fall through winter, the climate change associated warming, drying and strengthening of the Santa Ana winds is enabling the eruption of very large city-threatening fires during the winter months.



Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to Eric Holthaus

Hat tip to Wili

Hat tip to Titania Baildon

Leave a comment


  1. wili

     /  December 11, 2017

    Thanks for the hat tip. It really feels like we’ve now gone ‘through the looking glass’ and are living with the (beginnings of the) harsh consequences of GW, nut just every year, but every month or more frequently…

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1 C warming was not safe. We’re realizing this now. More warming is much less safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

         /  December 11, 2017

        Climate scientists were talking about 1 C being hazardous decades ago. Sadly, those in the developing world will suffer these consequences the worst first. And they wanted 1.5 C, which they will not get. Not that it’ll be a cakewalk here in more resilient (for now) America.


        • Hey Nick. Thanks for the informed context. I remember this. Various orgs listened and tried to warn the public. Message didn’t really get out as well as it could have.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Meteorologist Nick Humphrey

           /  December 11, 2017

          Very true. The absolutely relentless disinformation campaign by the oil industry hasn’t helped the cause.


        • It’s been a harsh time for anyone shining a light on this rather tough subject for just that reason. It’s hard enough dealing with a crisis and getting folks moving in a positive direction without big industry like the fossil fuel interests spending millions in advertising to confuse people on the issue.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Loni

           /  December 12, 2017

          ‘stranded assets’ I think is the approach. It’s working for big money, which is getting into hipper things, and it may be the best approach for those next down the chain. In other words, it’s a pocket book issue, the value of their flood plane real estate, etc., with rising insurance premiums in mind.


  2. From

    “This inferno has destroyed 230,000 acres as of Monday morning and was only about 15% contained. It started December 4 in Ventura County and has since spread into neighboring Santa Barbara County. The Thomas fire has already destroyed 790 structures, Ventura County Sheriff Captain Garo Kuredjian told CNN. The costs of fighting the blaze have topped $34 million.”

    Your article says “More than 320 structures have been burned or destroyed.” That is either old news or the fires have gotten a lot worse this morning.


  3. I would like to add that fracking facilities in the US is leaking rather large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. That can’t be helping the forest fire situation there.


  1. After a Brief Respite, Climate Change Enhanced Drought is Returning to the U.S. | robertscribbler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: