Higher than normal wildfire potential predicted for much of the western U.S. in September

Wildfire potential September, 2020

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued September 1 by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center for September through December predicts that most of the forested areas of the western states, with the exception of Montana, will have above normal potential in September. In October and November that is expected to shift to California and the southeast.

The data from NIFC shown here represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.


  • 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;
  • Drought Monitor;
  • Keetch-Byram Drought Index.

“A continuation of peak season activity into September is expected across much of the West as drought conditions continue to take hold. Most western regions will experience areas of above normal significant large fire potential as shown on the maps to the left. By mid-month, however, the seasonal transition to fall will begin. Cold fronts brining winds but also precipitation will begin providing relief to the critically dry fuels. Fire activity will begin to diminish as fuel moistures begin to recover. As the days get shorter, overnight humidity recoveries will become greater. This will add further relief to fuels, especially the finer fuels.

“Following a brief pause in activity in California and a cessation of seasonal activity elsewhere across the West, large fire potential is expected to increase in October and November in wind prone areas across the state. The expectation of drier than average conditions and a higher probability of more frequent Foehn Wind events suggests that significant large fire potential will be elevated until winter sets in during December. The fall fire season across the East is expected to be near average but above average across much of the Southern Area due to drier than average conditions associated with a developing La Niña.”

Wildfire potential October, 2020 Wildfire potential November, 2020 Wildfire potential December, 2020

Temperature and precipitation outlook, Sept., Oct., & Nov, 2020.
Temperature and precipitation outlook, Sept., Oct., & Nov, 2020. Forecast made August 20, 2020.

Drought Monitor, August 25, 2020 KBDI September 1, 2020






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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.