Wildfire potential, September through December

The prediction for October shows enhanced fire potential for the Northern Rockies and much of western California.

wildfire potential

On September 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for September through December. 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 the NIFC report;
  • NIFC’s graphical outlooks for September through November;
  • NOAA’s long range temperature and precipitation forecasts; and
  • Drought Monitor


“The Western fire season is reaching its peak for 2017 as it enters September. While an active southwestern monsoon has curtailed activity in the Southwest and across portions of the central Rockies, above normal significant fire activity continues to be observed across portions of the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, northern Great Basin and northern California. Fuel moisture levels and fire danger indices in these areas are at near-record to record levels for severity. While the frequency and density of lightning occurrence has begun its seasonal decline, occasional lightning bursts are still being observed. Most of the new lightning-caused fire starts are being effectively handled with initial attack, but a few are still developing into larger incidents that require additional resources. Drier and warmer than average conditions across the central Great Basin and Southern California are allowing for the fine fuels to become more receptive to fire activity. A slight upturn in initial attack activity is being observed in both areas. Cool and wet conditions have arrived in Alaska. Its season has effectively ended.

Precipitation received was generally well below average across the Pacific Northwest, Northern Rockies, Great Basin and California in August as most areas received less than 25 percent of normal rainfall. Once exception to this was the Sierra Mountains in California where several episodes of wet convection produced rainfall amounts that were above average. Across the central Rockies and the Southwest, precipitation amounts were near average. Temperature extremes were less frequent in August than in July. For the month, average temperatures were only a few degrees above average.

Fire season will peak by mid-September as the fuels remain much drier than average and as existing precipitation trends continue. By mid-September decreasing solar radiation received and longer nights will allow for fuel moistures to begin recovering. Should a season-slowing weather event not occur, this will be sufficient to allow for the fire activity across the northwestern states to begin to decrease significantly late in the month. Significant large fire activity will remain possible in foehn wind-prone areas like the Rocky Mountain Front and across Southern California through November and will be event-driven should they occur.”

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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. Google+

2 thoughts on “Wildfire potential, September through December”

  1. In the maroon colored area is where the Bear Paw Mountain fire is right now…over 22,000 acres burned so far.

  2. i live in northwest iowa and today we can’t see the sun because of your wildfires. i think this just solidifies the need for more logging in these areas.

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