Climate change is increasing wildfire risk in New

This story is part of the WHYY News Climate Desk, bringing you news and solutions for our changing region.

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The increasing risk for wildfires is not just a problem for the western U.S.

“It’s all over the place,” said Kaitlyn Trudeau, a senior research associate at Climate Central who led the analysis of weather data for the past five decades and helped write  the new report, “Wildfire Weather: Analyzing the 50-year shift across America.”

The research found that the number of fire weather days are increasing nationwide, including in the eastern half of the country and New Jersey. Fire weather days are when conditions are favored for a wildfire to spread.

Researchers looked at data from 476 weather stations in the lower 48 states to assess changes in the 50-year period between 1973-2022.

The data shows climate change is causing more hot, dry or windy days in most places. North Jersey and the coastal area of New York has added around 10 days of fire weather since 1973. South Jersey added around four days.

While the risk of wildfire is greater in North Jersey, South Jersey still sees, on average, two weeks of fire weather annually, according to Trudeau. State officials have said peak wildfire season has expanded into a 4-5 month period due to climate change.

In April, a wildfire tore through six acres in the Pine Barrens, causing residents to flee and take shelter at a high school.

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