Wildfire potential, April through July

wildfire potentialOn April 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for April through July. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

Below are the highlights of their report. Following that are NIFC’s graphical outlooks for May through July and NOAA’s temperature and precipitation forecasts.

We also have the NOAA/USDA Drought Monitor which, in the history of our monthly reports, shows no extreme or exceptional drought in California for the first time in years.

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“Florida and portions of Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and New Mexico continue to experience significant fire activity as warmer and drier-than-normal conditions persist. These conditions will persist as the fire activity peaks across the Southern Plains by May and across Florida through coastal Carolina by early June. Periodic, event-driven pre-green up grassfire activity continues across the central and northern plains and in the lower elevations of the West. This is normal activity and will continue to occur until full green up takes hold. Developing drought conditions across Central Texas and Oklahoma could elevate fire potential in May.

Western New Mexico and Arizona will begin to see an increase in significant fire activity in May before the monsoon begins to develop in late June and begins to curtail activity. As the fire season progresses into June and July, there are concerns with the seasonal shift west into California and north into the central Rockies and Great Basin. Exceptional winter and early spring precipitation will lead to the development of a substantial crop of fine fuels in the lower and middle elevations.

The heavy loading of fine fuels could become problematic when they cure out by July. In the higher elevations, the mountain snowpack is expected to melt at a normal to slower than normal rate due to the abundance of high elevation snow and the occurrence of an overall cool and wet spring. This could produce a delay in the onset of significant fire activity in the high elevations.

In Alaska, the south central portion of the state continues to be abnormally dry which has resulted in a winter snowpack that is below normal.

By mid-late July, the western fire season will begin to progress north into the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. While a normal transition into fire season is expected in the lower elevations, a delayed entrance is possible in the higher elevations.”

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wildfire potential

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Wildfire potential, March through June

On March 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for March through June. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

Below are the highlights of their report. Following that are NIFC’s graphical outlooks for April through June, NOAA’s temperature and precipitation forecasts, and the NOAA/USDA Drought Monitor.

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“A typical transition of fire season activity is expected this spring beginning with the southern tier of the country. Fire activity will increase across portions of the southern plains and along the Atlantic Coast from the Carolinas south through Florida where the heavy loading of dry fuels coupled with warmer and drier than normal conditions is expected to create a potential for above normal fire activity. The increase in fire activity will be most noticed during high wind and low humidity weather events brought on by the seasonal transition from winter to spring. Other locations across the nation will see an increase in pre-green up fire activity as well, but this is not unusual. Southeastern Georgia and Florida may show a more significant increase in fire activity due to the emergence of long term drought conditions. Wetter than normal conditions across the Lower Mississippi River and Tennessee River Valleys are expected to lead to below normal fire potential during March. Look for the areas with below normal potential to be scaled back to mainly Tennessee and Kentucky from April onward as precipitation amounts received decrease to normal levels.

“Entering the latter periods of the outlook, Florida and Southeastern Georgia will remain in an elevated state for fire potential as drought lingers. The Southwestern and Alaskan fire seasons will begin in May as is typical. While normal fire season activity is expected across a majority of both regions, there are areas within both regions where an elevated potential for fire activity exists. Areas along and east of the Continental Divide in New Mexico have been and are expected to experience warmer and drier than normal conditions. In Alaska, the south central portion of the state has been abnormally dry which has resulted in a winter snowpack that is below normal. Given expected warm and dry conditions in May and June, an above normal potential for fire activity is expected to exist. Below normal fire potential is expected across the Central Rockies and the Sierra Mountains along the California-Nevada State line where the abundant winter snowpack should translate to a later than normal melt-off which could delay the start of the western fire season in the higher elevations.”

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wildfire potential April 2017 wildfire potential May June 2017

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Wildfire potential, January through April

With huge amounts of rain and snow hammering California and Oregon, few people in those areas are thinking about wildfires this week.

But in spite of the rain delivered to the west coast on what meteorologists are calling an “atmospheric river”, on January 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for January through April. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.  If their predictions are correct, in February wildfire activity could begin to pick up in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and New Mexico, with Florida and Georgia getting busier in March and April.

Below are the highlights of their report. Following that are outlooks for February through April, temperature and precipitation forecasts, and the Drought Monitor.

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“To begin 2017 significant wildland fire potential will be normal throughout entirety of the United States, except for below normal in Puerto Rico. For the majority of the U.S. this normal condition means that significant wildland fires are unlikely and normal indicates an out of fire season condition.

Beginning in February the seasonal increase in wildland fire activity will begin in the southern plains where the combination of abundant fine fuels and the potential for dry and windy conditions will occasional come together to produce periods of significant fire activity impacting the Southwest, Rocky Mountain and Southern Areas.

After February predictions for significant fire activity become increasingly difficult. It is likely that the same fire potential will continue across the southern plains, but pregreen up fires will also become increasingly likely in a large portion of the U.S. These fires are difficult to predict and rely on short term localized significant weather events.

Also during this period it is likely that we will see the onset of fire activity in south central Alaska, where warmer and drier than typical winter conditions are occurring.

Significant fire potential will also increase to above normal in Florida and portions of Georgia. Long term drought remains the primary concern in this area and moisture deficits in this area are likely to lead to occasional fires that burn deep into the soil layer and are more difficult to suppress.”

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Wildfire potential, December through March

 

On December 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for December through March. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their predictions are correct, the elevated wildfire danger that has plagued the southern states for weeks will be returning to normal. From January through March their analysis shows no areas with above normal wildfire potential.

January wildfire outlook

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Wildfire potential, November through February

On November 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for November through February. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their predictions are correct, firefighters in the southeast and in southern California could see significant wildfire activity in November and December.

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Scroll down to see additional wildfire potential maps, the drought monitor, and the 90-day temperature and precipitation outlooks, but immediately below are highlights from the wildfire potential outlook.

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November significant wildland fire potential is generally very minimal throughout the northern tier of the U.S. as conditions transition out of normal fire season. Areas of the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains that are currently seeing increased levels of fire activity are likely to see much of that activity diminish and transition to out of season conditions through early November.

Exceptions will continue in Southern California where long term drought is still in place. Conditions in this area will slowly transition to normal from north to south through the Outlook period. Normal implies a significant reduction in fire activity, but some fires should still be expected. Also, the southeastern U.S. will continue to see a large area of above normal significant fire potential for November and December that will slowly transition back to normal through the Outlook period as well. This condition is also largely due to long term drought that is going to be exacerbated by dry leaf litter falling on top of already dry fuels and also occasional dry and windy periods. For the southern Plains there is a plentiful grass crop that presents the potential for occasional dry and windy periods to increase fire activity.

Normal winter conditions will prevail across the U.S. in January and February. There will be occasional periods of increased fire activity, but these will be infrequent and difficult to predict accurately. During this outlook period winter precipitation and snowpack development will be a critical situation to monitor as the 2017 fire season becomes the focus of many fire managers.

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Wildfire potential, October through January

On October 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for October through January. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their predictions are correct, firefighters in the mountains of central and southern California could be busy through November, at least, while most of the Southeast is coming into what could be a very active fall fire season.

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Scroll down to see 6 to 14-day temperature and precipitation outlooks, and Red Flag Warnings for October 2, but immediately below are highlights from the wildfire potential outlook.

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“October represents a significant shift in fire activity in the United States. Shorter days, cooler nights and generally moister conditions reduce wildfire activity across the northern tier of the U.S., taking much of this area out of season or at least to very low fire activity conditions.

“October does represent the beginning of the primary time of concern for offshore flow across California. These dry windy conditions can lead to very significant fire events in areas with high populations. This year the forecasts indicate that offshore wind events may be less frequent than usual. However during even light wind periods fires will occur and they will have the potential to spread extremely quickly with extreme fire behavior. Fuels continue to be very dry in California due to long term drought and increased vegetation stress and mortality. Under windy conditions these fuels will become extremely volatile and can support extreme fire behavior.

“October also marks the start of the fall fire season across the eastern U.S. Leaf drop begins and adds a new dry layer of fuel. In seasons such as this one where leaf drop occurs on already dry fuels, fire activity can be amplified. Expect this to lead to increased initial attack activity and probably a slight increase in large fires. Fire activity occurs year round in the southeastern U.S. so the most likely scenario is to see an increase in frequency and the potential for more control problems than usual on fires this fall.

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