Global warming brings wildfire risk to rainy US Northwest

ISSAQUAH, Wash. (AP) — The famously rainy coastal Pacific Northwest has long been shielded from the wildfire risks faced by drier states, but that may no longer be true.

Experts say global warming is bringing higher temperatures, lower humidity and longer stretches of drought. And that means wildfire risks will extend into areas that haven’t experienced major burns.

While communities in drier areas have adopted wildfire-oriented development rules, many towns in wetter parts have not. Instead, development has been broadly allowed in pockets encircled by forest in the coastal territory stretching from northwestern Oregon to British Columbia.

Researchers say it’s difficult to predict exactly when the region may start seeing more significant wildfires. But they say even a modest increase in contributing factors, like days without rain, could make forests more vulnerable.