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Yosemite Record Setting Moisture In A Drought?

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Yosemite, CA –Yosemite fire officials report the recent thunderstorms sparked 12 lightning fire but in turn brought record low fire danger in the park thanks to the monsoonal moisture.

“It’s odd that now we’re literally wetter than we’ve ever been,” said Yosemite Fire and Fuels Department Chief Taro Pusina. “We took anywhere from 1 to 2 inches of rain across the whole park.”

Much of the rain that came from the thunderstorm that swept across the mountains this week was above 4,000 to 5,000 feet in elevation. Pusina comments it has been a rollercoaster ride, explaining, “What that has essentially done is put us in the lowest fire danger that we’ve been in at this time of year for the last 20 years. So, we have very low fire danger right now compared to June or even January this year, for that matter, when we were setting records for being the driest we’ve ever been.”

There have been 12 confirmed lightning fires ignited by the storms. Most are small; single tree strikes that amount to less than a tenth of an acre, according to park fire officials, who say Yosemite and Point Reyes fire crews hiking or flying overhead are monitoring the fires. Pusina adds all the fires have a “low growth potential” with the biggest blaze titled the “Indian Canyon Fire” at 3.8 acres burning in Mariposa.

While the wet weather has been a bit of a reprieve for the higher elevations, expected warmer weather moving into the area over the next 10 days will bring temperatures back to normal, according to Pusina, who warns that the fire danger is still very high; just in time for the park’s 6-week “peak” season (August 1 – September 15).

Here is Yosemite’s list of the 12 fires currently burning in the park:

New fire as of July 24:

  • Fork (37 46.242 x 119 25.198 – Mariposa Co., 8300’ el., 7/18). This is a lightning caused fire, and was reported by a hiker. It is a single tree, located on the east side of Cathedral Creek and north of the junction with Echo Creek.
  • Creek (37 49.604 x 119 35.131 – Mariposa Co., 8000’ el., 7/22). This recent fire is near Yosemite Creek and the Tioga Road. It is a single tree strike and has low to moderate potential for growth.
  • Polly (37 52.839 x 119 27.110 – Mariposa Co., 8400’ el.,Other fires: 7/20). The fire is a single tree near Polly Dome and within Tuolumne Meadows, and has low potential for growth.

Other fires:

  • Indian Canyon (37 47.532 x 119 35.148 – Mariposa Co. at 7200’ el., 7/ 3). This fire is between the Tioga Rd and the Yosemite Valley. It is 3.8 acres in size, and is smoldering and creeping with occasional single tree torching. Smoke has been visible from multiple locations within Yosemite. It is an area of few recent fires.
  • Blue Jay (37 47.204 x 119 39.183 – Mariposa Co., 8500’ el., 7/7). There is no smoke showing from this fire.
  • Dark (37 50.575 x 119 37.153 – Mariposa Co., 8200’ el., 7/ 9). This lightning caused fire is along the Yosemite Creek Campground Road and is periodically visible from the road. Two red fir trees were struck and the surface fuels were ignited. It is at 0.1acre.
  • Morrison (37 54.0 x 119 38.8 – Tuolumne Co., 8100’ el., 7/9). This fire is east of White Wolf and in an area of many past lightning fires. It is 0.1ac, with low potential for growth.
  • Horse (37 37.3 x 119 34.1 – Mariposa Co., 8500’ el., 7/9). This high elevation fire is one single tree struck and smoking and is east of Ostrander Lake. It is 0 .1ac, is surrounded by granite and has low potential for growth.
  • Clark (37 41.0 x 119 29.6 – Mariposa Co., 7500’ el., 7/9). This is west of Clark Peak. A single tree was seen smoking and it is at 0.1 ac., with low growth potential.
  • McGurk (37 40.969 x 119 37.232 – Mariposa Co. at 7800’ el., 7/2). This fire is within the McGurk Meadow, near a trail to Dewey Point from Glacier Point Road. It is at 0.2ac and has low potential for spread.
  • Porcupine Flat (37 48.962 x 119 34.416 – Mariposa Co., at 8000’ el., 7/3). The top of a single green red fir tree was struck by lightning. There is no ground fire, but smoke may be seen from the Tioga Road. It has low potential for growth.
  • White Cascade (37 54.926 x 119 23.780 – Tuolumne Co, at 9000’ el., 7/3). This is a remote fire near Glen Aulin High Sierra camp and west of Tuolumne Meadows and is at 0.50ac. It poses no threat to trails and has a low spread potential. Smoke may be visible from trails in the area.
  • Wawona Engine 31 Crew installing a portable Remote Automatic Weather Station