West to get more one-two extreme climate hits

Wildfires followed by heavy downpours with flooding and mudslides will strike the U.S. West more often, a new study said.


National News

April 1, 2022 - 5:20 PM

Flames burn through brush on a hillside near an entrance station to Sequoia National Park on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The one-two punch of nasty wildfires followed by heavy downpours, triggering flooding and mudslides, will strike the U.S. West far more often in a warming-hopped world, becoming a frequent occurrence, a new study said.

That fire-flood combination, with extreme drenchings hitting a spot that burned within a year, could increase as much as eight-fold in the Pacific Northwest, double in California and jump about 50% in Colorado by the year 2100 in a worst-case climate change scenario of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study in Friday’s Science Advances.

The study said that as human-caused climate change intensifies, 90% of extreme fire events will be followed by at least three extraordinary downpours in the same location within five years.

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