2020’s ‘Orange Skies’ Are (Probably) Returning to San Francisco Tomorrow
An unwelcome fit of déjà vu, courtesy of the climate crisis
This year’s wildfire began, blessedly timid. Sighs of relief could’ve been heard echoing through empty tin cans pressed against thin drywall separating Bay Area apartments.
Nevermind the fact that California’s drought conditions continue to worsen — leaving some of the state’s large water reservoirs, like Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta with record-low levels heading into the state’s historically hottest months — and high temperatures continue beating down on the region. Regardless of the realities of PG&E’s complicit nature and practices, burying only a fraction of its above-ground power lines that are responsible for, quite literally, almost all of California’s major wildfires to date. Not even hinting at the changing wind patterns observed through the state that could shift entire regional climates.
Somehow, 2022’s wildfire season was looking like the least severe observed in a long time. That is, however, until the Oak Fire began burning completely uncontained on Friday.
Since then, the blaze has bloomed to well over 14,000 acres in size; it’s forced thousands to evacuate and leave the fate of their homes largely to chance; entire microclimates have been born inside the fire-ravaged area, producing dangerous wind spins and cloud formations spun higher than carnival cotton candy.
It all reads — looks, feels, echoes — like the same sentiments, feelings, and sensations we experienced in the summer of 2020. When we had to choose between our pandemic masks and those approved for filtering-out wildfire pollutants. And whispered to ourselves (in hushed secrecy) that it couldn’t get worse than this: skies collapsing around us amid a global pandemic.