Maui wildfires prompt rescues in Lahaina


Hawaii’s destructive wildfires are being fanned by a combination of strong wind and dry conditions that are blanketing vast swaths of the island.

While scientists are still trying to fully understand how the climate crisis will affect Hawaii, they have noted that drought will get worse as global temperature increases.

Currently, Maui has moderate drought covering more than one-third of the island, with some areas seeing severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. The areas in drought coincide with where some of the fires are occurring.

Warmer temperatures increase the amount of water the atmosphere can absorb, which then dries out the landscape. As heat sets in, the dried-out land and vegetation can provide fuel for wildfires, which can swiftly turn deadly if strong winds help fan the flames into communities.

According to the 4th US National Climate Assessment, released in 2018, drought conditions are becoming more extreme and common in Hawaii and other Pacific Islands. Scientists noted in that report that the rainfall has generally been decreasing in Hawaii over time, with the number of consecutive dry days increasing.

Global scientists reported in 2021 that because of the climate crisis, droughts that may have occurred only once every decade or so now happen 70% more frequently.

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