Wildfire potential expected to be above normal in many western locations this summer

July could be a very busy month for wildland firefighters in the U.S.

potential wildfires fires weather forecast prediction

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued today by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center for June through September indicates that many areas in the western United States will have above normal potential for wildfires. In July the increased fire danger is expected to affect significant portions of California, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Arizona.

The wildfire potential in the southern states is predicted to be below normal.

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

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.

“June through early July is the peak of the fire season across the Southwest. Expect for the normal fire activity across the region to increase through the period with some areas experiencing Above Normal significant large fire potential, especially across Arizona. As the monsoon begins in mid-July, activity across the Southwest will diminish. Activity across Alaska will also diminish as the rainy season begins. California, central and northern portions of the Great Basin, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northern Rockies will begin to enter their peaks.

“Above Normal significant large fire potential is expected in the areas shown on the maps due primarily to increasing drought conditions, early loss of mountain snowpack, anticipated lightning activity, and overall hot and dry conditions that should persist through August. As is typically the case, the peak season fire activity across the northwestern portion of the country should diminish by mid-September as the seasonal transition begins and allows for wet fronts to bring precipitation to impacted areas.”


potential wildfires fires weather forecast prediction

potential wildfires fires weather forecast prediction

potential wildfires fires weather forecast prediction

drought monitor
Drought Monitor
90 day temp precip
Forecast for temperature and precipitation, June through August, 2020. Made May 21, 2020.

IKeech-Byram Drought Index

Abundant lightning in the western United States last 48 hours

Lightning 48 hour period
Lightning during the 48-hour period ending at 12:59 p.m. MDT May 31, 2020.

There has been a great deal of lightning in the western U.S. in the last 48 hours.

Below is the precipitation recorded over the last 48 hours.

Precip last 48 hours
Precipitation during the 48-hour period ending at 1:30 p.m. MDT May 31, 2020. NWS.

It will be interesting to see how many wildfires are ignited.

Increasing fire weather severity expected to bring extreme conditions to areas of Canada’s western provinces

Conditions in June and July are expected to be well above average.

Canada Fire Weather Severity forecast May, 2020

Forecasts are showing that fire weather severity in the western provinces of Canada will be increasing in May, and by June will be in the Extreme category in large areas of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Northwest Territories.

Conditions in June and July are expected to be well above average, according to data from the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System provided by the Canadian Meteorological Centre, a branch of Environment Canada.

Canada Fire Weather Severity forecast June, 2020 Canada Fire Weather Severity forecast July, 2020

Above average wildfire potential predicted for southern Arizona and Florida this month

In June, above average wildfire potential is expected in California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico

May wildfire outlook

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued today by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center continues to have generally good news for those concerned about wildfires. Similar to the prediction released a month ago for May, the only area in the United States likely to have above normal wildfire potential this month are the south portions of Arizona and Florida. That is expected to change in June with the addition of locations in California and parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.

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

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.

“Overall, the entry into the season is expected to be normal; however, there are areas of concern emerging for the summer months. While the Pacific Northwest received beneficial precipitation in late April, the overall pattern has been warm and dry which may be problematic for Oregon and Central through Eastern Washington. Northern California and the Great Basin area are also areas to monitor closely for Above Normal significant wildland fire potential as fuels continue to dry and cure. Additionally, fine fuel loading is expected to be above average for the third consecutive year in the lower elevations. Those fuels will dry and cure, becoming receptive to fire by mid-June.

“Other locations across the West and in Alaska can expect overall Normal conditions, though there could be pockets of Above Normal potential and activity along the Mexican Border in May and June before the anticipated arrival of a moderate monsoon in early July which should diminish fire activity in the Southwest while increasing activity further north across the Great Basin, Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northern Rockies by July.”

June wildfire outlook July wildfire outlook August wildfire outlook

90-day temp precip

Drought Monitor
Drought Monitor

Keetch-Byram Drouth Index

Red Flag Warnings in 5 states, April 28, 2020

Red Flag Warnings wildfires

On Tuesday the National Weather Service issued Red Flag Warnings in areas of Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico.

(Red Flag Warnings can be modified throughout the day as NWS offices around the country update and revise their weather forecasts.)

Researchers quantify the trend toward increasing autumn wildfire danger in California

Autumn Days Fire weather index above 95th percentile
Fire Weather Index in California in September, October, and November since the 1980s. From the research paper.

Researchers have quantified some of the factors that have led to an increase in southern California large wildfires during the autumn months in recent decades.

Here are examples of late season fires that occurred in southern California in 2017 and 2018:

The study defines autumn as September through November.

But their analysis goes much farther back than just three years. Among other things, they found that rising temperatures, declining snowpack, and decreasing precipitation in autumn and spring have acted to extend California’s fire season in the shoulder seasons. They also determined that climate change has already doubled the frequency of extreme fire weather days since the 1980s (see the illustration at the top of the article).

The research also found a long-term trend toward more extreme fire weather conditions occurring in both southern and northern California at the same time.

The study was conducted by Michael Goss, Daniel L. Swain, John T. Abatzoglou, Ali Sarhadi, Crystal Kolden, A. Park Williams, and Noah S. Diffenbaugh.