Wildfire potential, April through July

The outlook predicts above normal potential for western Washington and northwest Oregon

April 2019

On 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.

If NIFC’s analysis is correct, western Washington and northwest Oregon should see above normal wildfire activity through mid-summer. In June wildfire potential should pick up in the coastal mountains of California while most of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are expected to have below normal activity during those two months.

Below:

  • An excerpt from the NIFC narrative report for the next several months;
  • More of NIFC’s monthly graphical outlooks;
  • NOAA’s three-month temperature and precipitation forecasts; and,
  • Drought Monitor.

“As the spring greenup begins to take hold across the West in April, mountain snowpack will begin to melt. Snowpack melting rates are a more important factor than snowpack levels in assessing potential fire season activity ahead. An average or slower than average melting rate can allow for a late entry of the timbered elevations into the fire season, whereas a faster melting rate will allow for high elevation fuels to become receptive to fire sooner. In 2019, an average to cooler than average spring is expected, so melting rates should be near average which could result in a delayed fire season entry in areas that have abundant snowpack. An early entry is possible along the Canadian border in areas that have a below average snowpack. In the middle and lower elevations, abundant winter and spring moisture should translate to a heavy crop of fine fuels that will become increasingly receptive to fire activity across the West from south to north in May, June, and July.

“In Alaska, warmer than average temperatures should lead to an early snowpack loss and early entry into the fire season. A possibility exists that precipitation could become above average from June onward. This could lessen some of the state’s peak season fire potential during the second half of the season. After an active early start to the season, fire activity across the state should trend toward average conditions. Hawaii and Puerto Rico will continue to see slightly elevated potential early in the outlook period until the impacts of tropical weather conditions begin to be felt. The Southwestern fire season should begin to end in early July as a below average and perhaps late monsoon arrives.”

May 2019

June 2019

July 2019

Temperature and precipitation outlook
Temperature and precipitation outlook, May through July, 2019. Made March 21, 2019.
Drought Monitor
Drought Monitor

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, April through July”

  1. This chart sure helps get an idea of where trouble could ignite…but hopefully won’t.
    It is useful to use like the drought monitor, praying for a better safer season, month by month. How very awesome. 🌧️ tlc

  2. I live in Western Washington state on Orcas Island and have noticed that live fuels such as Doug fir branches are light, dry, and burn completely and quickly on a normal burn pile. This entire rain season has so far been scant and seeing that western Washington is prime for wildfire while most residents don’t take fire, prevention, or mitigation seriously here is downright frightening. My decades of experience with fire including my years with USFS and my current work through the winters enables me to see each year over the past 20 are increasingly drier, hotter, and more conducive to fire on the west side of the Cascades. The very cold, windy, and dry weeks of February seem to have drawn internal water content from live foliage, still struggling with a water deficit. Even the suckers I’ve pruned off the orchards this year felt weak and dry, with no moisture present on the fresh cut. I think we’re in for a very dry (and dangerous) summer.

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