NIFC releases prediction for wildfire potential, April through July

Wildfire potential weather July

Today there is a bit of good news for anyone worried about how firefighters will control wildfires during the current coronavirus pandemic. The wildfire potential outlook issued by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) on March 1 predicted that the coastal areas of Central and Southern California would have above average conditions for April, but that changed in a new outlook released today. As you can see in the map above there are no areas in the United States with forecasts for above normal wildfire activity in April.

That is expected to change in May with enhanced potential in southeast Arizona and south Florida. Then in June portions of northeast California and the southern areas of Nevada and Utah will be added to the list. In July firefighters could be busy in Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

The outlook comes from the Predictive Services section at NIFC and represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

The temperature outlook from the National Weather Service for April through June predicts higher than average temperatures in the west, southwest, southeast, and east. Precipitation for the period should be normal, except drier in the northwest and more rain than normal in the east one-third of the country.

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

“Mountain snowpack remained near to above average on the Continental Divide, along the Canadian Border, and across the Alaskan Interior. It was below average to well below average across the High Sierra, Southern Cascades, Great Basin, Sawtooth Mountains, Kenai Peninsula, and the Chugach Mountains. Snowpack melting rates will need to be monitored closely in these areas. Drought development and slight intensification was observed across California, Oregon, portions of the Great Basin, South Texas and Florida.

“Wildfire activity in April should continue to be light and focused in four areas. South Florida has been extremely dry. Fuels are receptive. Pregreenup activity may occur during warm and breezy periods along the Rocky Mountain Front as fronts pass. New Mexico begins to enter its season late in the month. In Alaska, hold over activity from the previous season can reemerge as the snowpack melts off. The potential for each in April 2020 is not expected exceed what is observed typically, except possibly in Florida.

“May is a transitional period. Fuels in southwestern areas dry, and fuels across northwestern areas enter peak greenup. The Southwest, California and Alaska begin to more fully enter fire season while other regions remain out of season. A normal transition into the Western fire season is expected. Areas of concern will be the middle elevations across much of California. In June and July, the West and Alaska enter their peak seasons. Activity across Oregon and Central through Northern California may be above normal. While overall Normal significant large fire potential is expected across most of the Southwest, some portions of the Great Basin and western portions of the Northern Rockies may experience elevated potential and activity as well. The Southwest and Alaska should transition out of fire season in July.”

Wildfire potential weather May Wildfire potential weather June Wildfire potential weather April

Temperature and precipitation outlook
Temperature and precipitation outlook for June through August, 2020.
Drought Monitor
Drought Monitor

KBDI

Above average wildfire potential predicted for coastal areas of Central and Southern California

NIFC’s prediction for March and April

March wildfire outlook

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for March through June. 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 the only area with above average potential for wildfires during March and April will be the coastal areas of Central and Southern California.

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

Entering March and continuing through April, the prolonged periods of dry conditions across Southern California may lead to periods of elevated fire potential during days experiencing offshore winds. However, a muted greenup should initially limit activity. Normal to Below Normal significant large fire potential is expected along the Rocky Mountain Front during the pre-greenup period due to sufficiently wet or snowy conditions experienced during late winter.

Both the Southwest and Alaska will gradually transition into fire season in May with both regions peaking in activity by late June. Overall Normal significant large fire potential is expected during the period except possibly across northern and western portions of Arizona and across portions of South Central Alaska including the Kenai Peninsula where conditions were drier than average over the past winter.

[…]

[In Southern California] well below average rainfall and above average temperatures are expected to continue through April. Due to the lack of significant rainfall, fine fuels are curing rapidly across the lower elevations and will be completely cured by the middle or end of March. There will be an above average potential for large fires across the lower elevations of the Central Coast and Southern California due to the early curing of fine fuels. A near average amount of offshore wind events will most likely continue to occur through April. These winds will fan any new ignitions and rapid rates of spread and long range spotting will be likely in continuous dead fuel beds. The potential for large fire development will become Normal across all of Central and Southern California May and June as the interior warms up and the offshore wind season comes to an end.

April wildfire outlook May wildfire outlook June wildfire outlook

90-day Precipitation Temperature forecast
90-day Precipitation & Temperature forecasts for March, April, & May, 2020.
Drought Monitor
Drought Monitor

KBDI

Southern California could see elevated wildfire danger in April & May

NIFC issues updated report on wildfire potential

February wildfire potential

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for February through May. 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 the only area with above average potential for wildfires during February and March will be Hawaii. However the southern coastal area of California is expected to see above average wildfire potential in April and May.

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

Here is an excerpt from a portion of the report that discusses the possibility of increasing fire potential in southern California in April and May.


“Due to a ridge replacing the trough, the weather has turned very dry since the start of 2020. Precipitation during the past 30 days has been, on average, 30-50% of normal across the Geographic Area. Some places in Southern CA are closer to the 10-25% range in comparison to normal since January 1st . Temperatures have been slightly above normal, especially near the coast, but offshore wind events have been infrequent and of light intensity.

“The drier weather coinciding with what is normally the wettest time of the year is concerning regarding the long term curing and drying cycle of seasonal grasses and other fine fuel types. Long range models are all depicting drier than normal conditions during the February through April timeframe, but some ensemble members point toward a wetter period returning in March. This may be too late to forestall an earlier than normal curing of grasses as subsoil moisture in the first few inches of topsoil will likely be depleted by then. Therefore, we are expecting large fire potential to climb to Above Normal levels due to an early onset of springtime “grassfire season.” Heavier, dead fuels may become involved by the time warmer temperatures arrive in May. Long range models also point toward a warmer than average temperature regime through May which may compound the problem.

“Resource demand will likely increase rapidly across Southern California by the end of March or in April. From there, large fire potential may climb to Above Average across central portions of the state by the late spring or early summer months. At this time, offshore wind events are expected to occur at a near normal rate, but even a quiet offshore pattern may not alleviate the effects of a dry late winter and spring.”


March wildfire potential April wildfire potential May wildfire potential

temperature and precipitation 90 day outlook
Temperature and precipitation outlook for February, March, and April, 2020. NOAA.
Drought Monitor
Drought Monitor

 

Potential for wildfires in California predicted to be high in November

It will remain high in southern California through December

wildfire potential November

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center has issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for November through February. 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 the only area with above average potential for wildfires during the four-month period is California in November and December. According to the prediction most of the forested or brush-covered lands in the state will have enhanced potential in November. That area will shrink in December to just the southern two-thirds of California.

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

From NIFC:

“Entering the outlook period, most states will remain out of fire season in November. Exceptions to this will continue to be California, Colorado, and possibly Texas where drier than average conditions will continue. Expect periodic increases in fire potential and activity during wind events that not only bring strong winds but also drier air that lowers humidity levels to critical levels. The occurrence of such events should begin to diminish in frequency later in the month as the seasonal transition begins to end. Medium range data suggests that conditions across the Southeast will continue to show improvement as the frequency of moisture events continues to increase.”

wildfire potential December

wildfire potential January
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California and the Southeast expected to have above normal wildfire activity

wildfire potential OctoberOn October 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for October through January. 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, the Southeastern United States and areas of California will have areas with above average potential for wildfires through December.

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;
  • Drought Monitor;
  • Vegetation greenness map;
  • Keetch-Byram Drought Index.

From NIFC:

“Both [California and the Southeast] appear to have areas of elevated large fire potential entering the fall, especially across the Southeast where drought is emerging in the Appalachians. In California, fuels remain receptive to fire activity under critical fire weather conditions in the middle and lower elevations. The grass crop remains dense. This should remain a concern heading through October, November, and into December. In the Southeast, the persisting dry conditions will allow for the fuels to continue to dry which will allow for the large fire potential to continue to gradually elevate until the frequency of passing weather systems begin to increase in December and January.”

wildfire potential November

wildfire potential December

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Portions of California expected to see above average wildfire activity

September 2019 wildfire outlook

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.

If NIFC’s analysis is correct, California will be one of two states expected to have areas with above average potential for wildfires, and those sections of California will shrink through December until the only areas remaining are the mountains and coasts from Santa Barbara south to the Mexican border. Southern Alaska could also have above normal fire activity in September.

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;
  • Drought Monitor;
  • Vegetation greenness map;
  • Keetch-Byram Drought Index.

From NIFC:

“Due to the recent lack of rainfall, areas of concern have emerged and are expanding to include Texas, California, Nevada, Utah and southwestern Wyoming – all of which have generally seen less than 25% of average precipitation during the past month. Extended periods of dry conditions across New Mexico and the southern Great Plains are also leading to the development and intensification of drought conditions.

“Entering September, warmer and drier than average conditions are expected to occur along the West Coast, which may persist well into fall. However, the passage of periodic wet systems should gradually end the fire season from north to south across the Northern Rockies, Central Rockies and Great Basin. Texas is expected to remain warmer and drier than average, which may, in turn prolong their season well into fall. Warmer and drier than average conditions are expected across the piedmont of the southern Appalachians, but wet antecedent conditions should preclude fire activity there.

“As the fall progresses, fire activity should relent over the Pacific Northwest and eventually Northern California during October. Southern California will likely be the last area to see fire activity conclude in 2019 as offshore winds and dry fuels may keep fire activity going south of Pt. Conception into December. In Alaska, overall warmer and wetter than average conditions are expected until the state enters winter.”


October 2019 wildfire outlook

November 2019 wildfire outlook

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