Drought Conditions Bring Devastating Flood Warnings
Now that the Lake fire that burned two percent of the San Bernardino National Forest in California has been put out, officials in the area have placed residents on a high-alert for flooding. The exposed soil from the fire is susceptible to erosion, which means that when the rain comes, there could be heavy debris flow and flooding.
According to the U.S. Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response Program (BAER), 640 acres of land suffered high burned severity. As a result, any rainstorm could unearth weakened soil and send its destructive force towards local communities in the form of flood and debris, and even mudslides.
The conditions in San Bernardino after the Lake fire are similar to the 2009 Station fire in Angeles National Forest, which scorched as much as 161,189 acres. In the months following the blaze, when the rains came, the area’s debris basin overflowed with mud and rocks, overwhelming protective barriers.
Officials across all departments are urging residents to employ erosion-control and flood-prevention measures.
At present, there is a 90 percent chance that an El Nino will continue through the Northern Hemisphere by fall 2015, said a report from the National Weather Service. Over 28 percent of the forest area suffered from moderate to severe soil burn, increasing the number of people who may be vulnerable to flooding.