Wildfires are a perennial threat to the state of Florida. While wildfires can start at any time of the year, the state sees a peak of activity during the early part of the year – beginning in January and continuing until the onset of more frequent rain during the wet season, usually in early to mid-June. A typical year in Florida will see over 4,600 fires burn nearly 110,000 acres of land. While lightning is responsible for many fires, most wildfires are started by humans – the most common causes of human-started fires being arson and embers or flames that escape or are carried away by winds when burning debris or trash.
In contrast to El Niño events, there are also events known as La Niña, in which the water in the same region of the tropical Pacific is abnormally cool. La Niña events are generally associated with warmer and drier winters in Florida. An increased amount of wildfire activity is often the result of La Niña events. In fact, Florida’s most severe bouts with wildfires occurred during La Niña events or during a quick transition to La Niña, which happened in 1998 and continued into 1999. Other recent examples include the Springs of 2001, 2004, and 2007.