Wildfire potential — August through November

The prediction for August shows enhanced fire potential for the Northern Rockies, Northern Nevada, and much of California and the Northwest.

august wildfire potential

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

It revises the outlook that was issued for August a month ago, adding to the “Above Normal” category Northern Idaho, the eastern halves of Oregon and Washington, and Western Montana. Many of the August “Above Normal” areas will carry over into September except for the areas in Oregon and Washington.

Below are:

  • the highlights of the NIFC report;
  • NIFC’s graphical outlooks for September through November;
  • Drought Monitor, and;
  • NOAA’s long range temperature and precipitation forecasts.


The seasonal transition of the western fire season north has occurred. A strong southwestern monsoon has developed over the Southwest and has reduced the significant large fire potential and activity across the Four Corners Region. Significant lightning activity associated with the monsoon has spread north creating numerous incidents across the northern Great Basin, Northern California, Pacific Northwest, and the Northern Rockies. With the fine fuels now fully cured and with larger fuels now receptive, even at the higher elevations, fire activity is increasing as it nears its seasonal peak in August. While the northwestern states have shown a significant upturn in activity, fire activity in Alaska has begun to wane with the arrival of the late summer rains across the Alaskan Interior. The eastern and southeastern states have seen and will continue to experience overall limited activity as the regions remain largely out of season.

Precipitation received was generally well below average across the western half of the country in July. With the occurrence of three significant heat wave events, fuels dried quickly and became receptive to fire earlier than in most years. By month’s end, the previous winter’s record snowpack and above average spring rainfall was a distant memory. Drought was beginning to reemerge in the Rockies and across portions of the Pacific Northwest. Across the northern Great Plains, the established long term drought conditions continued to worsen. Large fire activity became problematic across eastern Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.

Looking forward to the peak of the western fire season in August and September, conditions are expected to remain favorable for the Above Normal significant fire activity to continue. Areas with the greatest potential for significant large fire activity will be the grasses and rangelands of the Pacific Northwest east of the Cascades, the lower and middle elevations across California, most of the Northern Rockies region. The grass and rangelands across the northern Great Basin will also continue to demonstrate Above Normal significant large fire potential and activity.


September wildfire potential

October November wildfire potential


drought monitor


90 day outlook weather

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.