Southwest US Wildfires Continue to Smolder

Southwest US Wildfires Continue to Smolder
Last updated Jul 28, 2022
Image credit: Reuters [via the Guardian]


  • In the SW US, firefighters have struggled to contain a massive wildfire in New Mexico - the largest currently in the US - while a separate fire engulfed >20 homes in California's coastal community of Laguna Niguel.[1]
  • As of Fri., the NM fire - located just south of the CO border - has burned >260k acres and is only 29% contained. Relentless winds combined with the megadrought conditions across the SW are increasing concerns that the fire will be almost impossible to contain. >4k homes are under mandatory evacuation orders.[2]
  • Meanwhile, the Laguna Niguel fire in CA has burned 20+ structures - many of them expensive homes. No deaths or injuries have been reported in that blaze.[3]
  • ~900 homes are under mandatory evacuation orders in the areas around Laguna Beach CA as well. Like the NM fires, the CA blazes have been fueled by strong winds and drought conditions.[4]
  • Earlier this week, the US Drought Monitor reported that over half of the continental US - 53.8% - was experiencing drought conditions, with the SW US as the main epicenter. So far this year, the mainland US has experienced less rainfall than any other year since 2012.[5]
  • The US govt has also predicted that "most of the Southwest is forecast to have above-normal significant fire potential in May and June."[6]


Narrative A

These climate change-catalyzed infernos are threatening lives, homes, and livelihoods. Extreme conditions caused by rising temperatures and reduced winter rainfall are making many parts of the US into a tinderbox. Under these circumstances, strong winds can be the catalyst in creating a major disaster.

Narrative B

It's easy to dismiss any extreme weather event as a consequence of climate change, but in reality they're usually influenced by a myriad of factors. More research is needed before we can establish any direct causal link between the two.

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