Before you pay thousands of dollars for a mediocre seat at the World Series opener in Los Angeles on Tuesday, consider the weather, which is shaping up to be downright apocalyptic. There’s an excessive heat warning in effect for the LA region through Tuesday night, with temperatures forecast to reach the triple digits. But players and fans could face more than sweltering conditions. They may also have to deal with chocking air pollution from nearby wildfires.
Unfortunately, this sort weather could be a preview of the future for sports fans.
The high temperatures—some 20 degrees above average for this time of year—will be accompanied by relatively low humidity and strong Santa Ana winds, an unwelcome trifecta that elevates the prospect of more deadly wildfires. With fire fuels approaching their annual driest before anticipated winter rains, the mountains surrounding LA are under a red flag warning through Wednesday, reflecting “a long-duration fire weather threat.” According to the National Weather Service, this amounts to the most dangerous weather conditions seen in the past few years.
The potentially record-setting heat will likely reach all the way to the coast due to a ridge of high pressure over California and the lack of the typical onshore ocean breeze. Baseball fans won’t find much respite at Dodger Stadium, which is a good 15 miles inland anyways. If LA does hit 100°F on Tuesday, it would be the latest triple digit day on record for the city.
The potential threat of wildfires is fresh on the minds of many Californians after weeks of deadly burns throughout the northern part of the state, where a wet winter led to a burst of vegetation growth this spring, which in turn led to a lot of kindling. The resulting Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County, which covered 36,432-acres, has become the most destructive wildfire in modern state history, destroying an estimated 5,300 structures. Even more remarkably, two other fires that started on around around Oct. 8, the 54,382-acre Nuns Fire and the 51,624-acre Atlas Fire, are also in the top ten most destructive on record. Overall, 21 wind-driven fires broke out during the spell, covering nearly 400 square miles and wrecking about 8,400 structures.
This time around, the heat and wind will mercifully spare most of the northern areas of the state that are still deep in recovery mode. Wine country is even celebrating some recent rains, which Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Jones referred to as “little tears of joy dropping from the heavens” on Friday.
Maybe some of the Angels on Los Angeles’ other baseball team can help their National League counterpart avoid the worst wildfire outcomes in the days to come. But it is 2017, a year in which bad things happen, and I doubt many people are ready to rule out a World Series opener choked by air pollution.
On Friday, the series moves to Houston where the Astros will play host. Houston was recently devastated by Hurricane Harvey, and the team dedicated their game seven win over the Yankees to the city. Players have also been wearing a “Houston Strong” patch on their uniforms to honor the victims.
Just as it elevates the risk of deadly wildfires in California, climate change is expected to make severe storm events like Hurricane Harvey increasingly likely.
In fact, climate change will impact sports across the spectrum, from skiing and ice skating to running and surfing. This year, not even the World Series can escape it.