On July 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for July through October. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.
If it is accurate firefighters could be busy at times in California, the Great Basin, and the Northern Rockies.
- the highlights of the NIFC report;
- NIFC’s graphical outlooks for July through October;
- Drought Monitor, and;
- NOAA’s long range temperature and precipitation forecasts.
Fire activity across the West began to increase significantly in June as preexisting dry conditions along with record setting heat events allowed for the fuels to become critically dry across portions of the Southwest, southern Great Basin, and Southern California. By month’s end, fire activity began its usual expansion northward as fires became more frequent in the lower and middle elevations. Several wetting systems slowed fire activity in Alaska. The fire season in Georgia and Florida diminished as multiple wetting rain events relieved the pre existing drought conditions.
Timely precipitation along with above average soil moisture has led to the growth of an abundant crop of fine fuels across much of the west. Periodic cooler than average temperatures across the northwestern portion of the country has slowed curing and drying rates in the grasses and has continued to slow the melting rates of the remaining snowpack. The southwestern states, however, have been drier and more continuously warm than average for several months making fuels more receptive to fire activity. Due to below average precipitation received across the Great Plains portions of eastern Montana and the Dakotas should be monitored closely for a possible increase in fire activity in July. The eastern U.S. been largely milder than average as several frontal systems produced significant rainfall.
Above normal significant fire potential is expected across a large portion of the rangelands of the west through August before trending toward normal in September and October with seasonal changes that bring wetting precipitation. The Southwest can expect a typical end to its fire season as monsoonal moisture becomes more firmly established by the end of July. Higher elevations across northwestern states will continue to experience below normal significant fire potential in July followed by normal potential for August as high elevation heavy fuels begin to dry out. A normal reduction of fire activity is expected in September across much of the west. The eastern half of the nation is in full green-up and fuels are generally not receptive to significant fire activity. Expect these conditions to persist into fall.