Hawaii wildfires

Hawaiian island of Maui  

  • one of the deadliest US wildfires in recent years – burnt through multiple neighborhoods, including the historic town of Lahaina
  • burned first in vegetation and then rapidly spread into populated areas – drought conditions prevailed in the island – Strong wind and low humidity strengthened the fire
  • islands were sandwiched between high pressure to the north and a low pressure system associated with Dora, several hundred miles away – the differences in air pressure drove unusually strong trade winds that fanned the destructive flames – Downslope winds are drivers of the highest impact fires, have been responsible for 60% of structures lost and 52% of deaths in wildfires in the American west since 1999
  • Plants like Guinea grass, an invasive species found across parts of Maui, grow very quicklyand creates a tinderbox that’s ripe for wildfire as it dries out – In hotter and drier conditions with variable rainfall, it’s only going to exacerbate the problem. – Climate change not only increases the fire risk by driving up temperatures, but also makes stronger hurricanes more likely.

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