2023 Alaska outlook – dry again in Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

The Alaska Division of Forestry and Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s early season wildfire outlook is now available, and normal fire potential is expected from March through June, except for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, where above-normal potential exists beginning in April. AICC’s Fire Weather Program Manager Heidi Strader said that low snowpack could result in a busy early season out on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

“Keep in mind that we have few indicators to tell us how mid-summer will be at this point,” Strader said. “For some of the more populated corridors around South Central and parts of the Interior, it’s more about fuels, wind events, and human activity.”

Alaska potential

A typical fire season in Alaska includes about 500 wildfires that burn an estimated 650,000 acres. Every year more than 80 percent of these fires are human-caused and result from careless or negligent use of fire, often in escapes from burn barrels, campfires, burn piles, or other sources.

Alaska has been enjoying significant sunshine in March, and April will probably bring the first early-season human fire starts to low-lying areas of the state as the snowpack retreats. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows no current drought in Alaska, while the Climate Prediction Center calls for a slightly warmer and wetter spring for western and northern Alaska. Fire activity the first week of March in Alaska was non-existent with a thick blanket of snow for most of the state. Additional details are available online at the akfireinfo.com website.