Skip to Content

Meteorologist Explains the California Fires—And Scoffs at Trump’s Claims

President Donald Trump said over the weekend that the California wildfires are burning out of control because of “gross mismanagement” by California officials. A meteorologist, however, responded with some science.

CNN meteorologist Tom Sater over the weekend explained in detail why the California wildfires are happening and how they’ve burned out of control in a rebuke to Trump’s tweet. He said that forest mismanagement is not at all a contributing factor and, citing a tweet he saw over the weekend, suggested that Trump’s warning of pulling federal payments unless management improves is like pulling federal funding from the National Hurricane Center “until you stop all these hurricanes. It’s the same notion.”

From there, Sater went into a three-minute, science-based explanation on the California wildfires. He noted that humidity is extremely low, rainfall is at dangerously low levels, and winds on Thursday picked up, creating the recipe for the wildfires to spread. Meanwhile, rescue workers and firefighters have been working around the clock to save lives and preserve as many homes and businesses as possible.

Sater also dug into the history of California wildfires and noted that the Tunnel Fire of 1991 was the only major California wildfire before 2003 to land in the top ten of most destructive California wildfires. This year’s Camp Fire is already the most destructive in California’s history.

Looking ahead, Sater said that winds in mountain passes are expected to pick up again, which could cause more problems. And at the end of his analysis, he again said that forest mismanagement is not at all a problem in this fire.

After his initial tweet on the fires, Trump posted three more over the weekend. The first in the new batch honored the thousands of people fighting the fires and remembered those who have died. Another asked that people evacuate when they receive orders from state and local officials. On Sunday, however, he went back to the mismanagement tack.

“With proper Forest Management, we can stop the devastation constantly going on in California,” Trump wrote. “Get Smart!”