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Southland at the tinder mercy of a record-breaking dry spell



Southern California, USA
June 30, 2007


July 1 of 2006 to June 30 of this year, only 3.21 inches of rain fell in downtown Los Angeles — the LOWEST PRECIPITATION LEVEL SINCE RECORDS STARTED BEING KEPT in the 1880s. Other cities around the region, including Pasad
ena, Culver City, Anaheim and Riverside, also set ALL-TIME RECORDS. Over the last year, rainstorm after rainstorm bounced away from Southern California. Two high-pressure systems parked themselves in the region, deflecting the precipitation. The unrelenting dry conditions have sapped moisture from plant life in hillsides and canyons, making them far more susceptible than normal to sparks from fireworks. The latest studies of brush and grasslands by the L.A. County Fire Department found that the moisture level in plants is THE LOWEST IN 26 YEARS. And that doesn't count the large amount of brush that has already died. Of equal concern to firefighters is the wind. Typically, Southern California records 30 days of Santa Ana winds a year. But over the last 12 months, the region saw more than 100 days of Santa Anas. On Friday, the National Weather Service again issued a red flag fire warning for forest and mountain areas. Photo: A couple walk past dried out brush in the Arroyo Seco Nature Park in Pasadena. The regions unrelenting dry conditions have sapped moisture from plant life in hillsides and canyons. (Mel Melcon /LAT)


"We've NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS. The Griffith Park and Hollywood Hills fires show that something that could normally be contained immediately could rage out of control with the wind. Things are going to be bigger and worse than ever."

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