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California is emerging from one of the driest winters in its history, and 2020 was a record year for wildfires in the state with five of the six worst fires in modern history. Officials have been working to address mitigation efforts and insurance affordability while dealing with severe to extreme drought in the state. California is not the only state or region experiencing drought and increased risk of wildfire. More than half of the West is experiencing extreme drought with scientists saying the region is going through its worst drought period in centuries. California and Oregon have wide swaths of the state in extreme drought conditions making conditions ripe for another record year of forest fires.

Drought occurs when there is a period of drier than normal conditions that results in water problems. While droughts do not have an immediate effect like floods they do cause significant damage to crops, the environment and the economy. When less than average precipitation from either rain or snow occurs, a region can experience drought conditions. Because weather patterns are unpredictable, droughts can occur during years with less than normal precipitation and prolonged periods of drier conditions, leading to more severe drought conditions in subsequent years.

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Christine G. Barlow, CPCU

Christine G. Barlow, CPCU, is Managing Editor of FC&S Expert Coverage Interpretation, a division of National Underwriter Company and ALM. Christine has over twenty-five years’ experience in the insurance industry, beginning as a claims adjuster then working as an underwriter and underwriting supervisor handling personal lines. Before joining FC&S, Christine worked as an Underwriting Supervisor for Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, and as Senior Underwriter/Underwriter for companies Montgomery Mutual, Old American, Charter Group, and Nationwide. The publications Christine has written or edited include Personal Lines Unlocked: The Key to Personal Lines Underwriting, Personal Lines Endorsements Coverage Guide, Commercial Flood Insurance Coverage Guide, Personal Flood Insurance Coverage Guide, Homeowners Personal Lines Coverage Guide 5th Edition, Personal Umbrella Coverage Guide 2nd Edition, and Condominium Coverage Guide 2nd Edition, all published by the National Underwriter Company. Christine regularly writes for Claims Magazine and National Underwriter Magazine. Christine regularly presents and moderates webinars on a variety of topics and is an experienced presenter. Christine graduated cum laude from Towson University, Maryland, with a degree in Sociology/Psychology with a concentration in Gerontology.

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