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Friday, November 1, 2019

Disaster Declarations

Philip Bump at WP:
As the East Coast was keeping an eye on the fate of the Nationals and the fate of the nation, California was on fire.

Not all of California, but a lot of it, and not for the first time in recent years. Fires burned in wine country in the north, and fires burned near museums in the south. Tens of thousands of people went without power in the hope that shutting down electrical lines would prevent fires from breaking out with fire-favorable weather looming; to the extent that it worked that strategy didn’t prevent the Golden State from burning.

Since 1960, counties have been the focus of disaster declarations by the federal government more than 50,000 times. No individual county has had more such declarations than Los Angeles County, which has seen 72 such declarations over that period — more than one a year.
 The publicly available data from FEMA (which predate FEMA’s own creation) shows how the number of declarations began to surge in about 1990, mostly as a function of the number of severe storms that prompt disaster declarations. This isn’t necessarily a function of more storms and may reflect a shift in the number of declarations issued. It is the case, though, that the number of heavy precipitation storms has increased across the United States in recent years, a trend tied to the warming climate.