Currently in Boston — May 13th, 2022

The weather, currently.

Very warm this weekend; rain chances begin Saturday Night

The average high temperature in Boston this time of year is 66ºF. We will be much above that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as temperatures soar into the lower 80s. Areas southeast of town like Plymouth will remain in the upper 70s, while places along the outer capes will max out in the upper 60s. Overnight, lows in Boston will be in the lower 60s and drop into the mid-to-upper 50s farther southeast along the coast. Skies will remain mostly sunny on Friday, and gradually become increasingly cloudier on Saturday as a coastal low parked over the southeastern US connects with the jet stream over the Midwest and southern Canada. This will bring scattered showers into the area Saturday and Sunday. These showers are not expected to be a total washout, but a few rumbles of thunder.

—Dave Epstein

What you need to know, currently.

The New York Times published a piece last week on the challenges of conducting prescribed burns as climate change exacerbates wildfire season. Indigenous people have been practicing controlled burns for thousands of years as a way to care for the land—a controlled burn regenerates the forest and clears underbrush, which acts as kindling for the most destructive wildfires. The Forest Service has struggled to hire enough wildland firefighters in recent years, however, which means they have fewer trained staff to implement prescribed burns.

Part of the labor shortage likely has to do with the terms of the job. Wildland firefighters are generally classified as seasonal employees, let go in the off season, and lose their health insurance; while the pay may be decent, it’s not enough to make up for the loss of benefits. California tries to manage this shortage by bringing in prisoners to fight wildfires, paying them what effectively amounts to slave wages.

One wildland firefighter, Soledad Espinoza, told The Marshall Project that she was paid $1 an hour, but because she was paying restitution her wages ultimately amounted to about 45 cents an hour. Until last year, anyone with a felony record could not become a firefighter in the state of California — even if they had spent years on the job while incarcerated. Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that allows workers to petition to have their felony records expunged, but it’s still slow, time-consuming, and unnecessarily punitive.