Monday, September 21, 2009

As a strategy, it leaves a little to be desired...

With at least two fires still burning in Southern California, Santa Ana winds - what we just called the East Wind when I was growing up there - are predicted to kick up today. One forecast calls for gusts up to 45 miles per hour tonight.

The wind, combined with predicted high temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s for the next couple of days, is par for the course for Southern California in September. It is also a dangerous situation, especially with a continuing drought in the region.

So what strategy did Joe Sirard, who works for the National Weather Service in Oxnard, advocate for avoiding fires? The Los Angeles Times quoted Sirard as saying:

"If any fires were to develop or ignite, it could be a serious situation where the fire could explosively grow. It's going to be a potentially hazardous situation, so let's cross our fingers."


Pardon me while I laugh and roll my eyes.

Not that there is really anything funny about the situation. But "it could be a serious situation"? No, it is a serious situation, and more than potentially hazardous. Take my word for it. I've lived through east-wind driven fires more times than I care to recall.

And this - "...so let's cross our fingers" - is a strategy for keeping fires from starting, or fighting them if they start? Maybe I just don't have much of a sense of humor about wildfires, but that could be the most inane thing I've ever read.

To give Mr. Sirard the benefit of the doubt, crossing one's fingers is one of those platitudes that just jumps out of people's mouths without conscious thought sometimes. Still, it seems like a spokesperson for the NWS could come up with something a little more intelligent than that.