Wednesday, November 14

AccuWeather president's statement about economic impact of California wildfires

The number of confirmed dead from the Camp fire in California's north has risen to 48 in the last few hours, with 3 confirmed dead in Southern California. Fires are still burning in the north and south, with the current worst threat from the Woolsey fires burning in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Now to the economics of the wildfires, then on to the weather forecast.

From AccuWeather, 3:10 PM ET today:
Dr. Joel N. Myers, founder and president of AccuWeather, said, “This is a serious humanitarian as well as economic disaster for the state of California, possibly rivaling the negative impacts of the great earthquakes there. 
"At this point AccuWeather estimates that the total damage and economic impact of the California wildfires has already exceeded $80 billion, and will likely exceed $150 billion. The impact will possibly reach $200 billion by next week based on AccuWeather forecast conditions of strong winds and very little rain combined with very dry grounds and vegetation aggravated by lack of rain and strong [parching] winds.
"If these conditions and the resulting damage persist, at least partially into December, this could well turn out to be one of the costliest weather and climate disasters in the U.S., exceeding the damage caused by major hurricanes such as Katrina, Sandy and Harvey.
"This dramatic economic loss will cause substantial damage to California’s economy with repercussions to its annual budget, potentially resulting ultimately in increased taxes. 
"Deteriorating economic conditions brought on by the negative economic impact of the fires, coming on the heels of last year's [fire-related] losses, will stress the state’s budget, possibly causing the state’s credit to deteriorate which, if it occurs, will result in lower bond ratings and higher interest rates with the snowball effect to greater deficits and more expenses."
From the same report:

8,345 structures destroyed
Over 237,000 acres burned
Includes Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire [135,00 acres Camp Fire, 97,620 Woolsey Fire, and 4, 531 Hill Fire]
Area burned is larger than each of these U.S. cities 
  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Denver
  • Baltimore
  • Washington, D.C.
From an updated Independent report published about an hour ago the estimated number of destroyed structures now stands at 8,800, with surely the bulk of that number from the Camp fire in Paradise. 

The AccWeather forecast from the 3:10 PM report:
Although winds in the vicinity of the Camp Fire [Northern California] are forecast to be significantly less during Thursday and Friday compared to that of early this week, an ongoing breeze will keep the threat for wildfire development and spread elevated in Southern California into Friday.
A major change in the weather pattern that is forecast to bring much-needed moisture [higher humidity] and the potential for rainfall to the state starting this weekend and continuing into next week.
“While there is a chance for some meaningful rainfall next week, it is unlikely that we will see enough precipitation to end the fires across Southern California. There is a somewhat better chance for enough rainfall to diminish the fires in Northern California," Myers said.
Meanwhile, the decrease in winds will make fire behavior less erratic and prevent fires from spreading as rapidly as they have been over the past week, which should give residents facing future evacuations more time to reach safety.
In addition, moisture from the Pacific Ocean should be channeled back into the state early next week, and a storm system is forecast to bring wet weather back to parts of the state by the middle of next week.
The exact track and intensity of the storm system will determine how much of the state receives rain and how much rain falls, respectively.

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