Cool, Damp Weather Helps U.S. Wildfire Outlook

2017 on pace to be worst season in a decade

 

In this Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017 photo, trees charred by a fire stand in the foreground in from of North Sister and Middle Sister in the background as seen from the drive into the Boy Scouts of America Oregon Trail Council’s Camp Melakwa in the Willamette National Forest near McKenzie Bridge, Ore. (Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard via AP)

 

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Cool, damp weather has brought relief from wildfires in the northwestern U.S., northern Idaho and western Montana, but the fall fire season is getting underway in Southern California, forecasters said Sunday.

See also  Critics Ask Why PG&E Was Slow on Wildfire Safety

The risk of big wildfires will be above average for Southern California through December, the National Interagency Fire Center said in its monthly forecast .

The risk is also elevated in central and northeastern Montana through the end of October because of a severe and prolonged drought.

The forecast calls for average risk of big wildfires over much of the nation through the end of the year, although parts of the Midwest and South could face elevated danger.

Wildfires have burned more than 13,200 square miles (34,000 square kilometers) nationwide this year, putting 2017 on pace to be one of the worst in a decade.

See also  Michigan Crew Boss Academy Develops Firefighters into Leaders

The U.S. Forest Service, the nation’s primary wildfire-fighting agency, has spent more than $2 billion on fire suppression this year, a record.

The West has been vulnerable because a wet winter produced a dense crop of grass and small trees and a hot spring dried them out, fire managers said. Summer storms brought fire-starting lightning but little rain or even humidity.

By Sunday, 13 large fires were burning on 980 square miles (2,500 square kilometers). Oregon had seven large fires, California four, and Idaho and Montana had one each.

Southern California was unusually cool and humid in mid-September, which reduced the fire danger at a time when it’s usually high, the National Interagency Fire Center said. But seasonal offshore winds could dry out the vegetation and raise the fire threat again.

See also  Happy to Present the New WATERAX Van

The center said two wet weather systems in mid-September dampened forests and grasslands in Idaho and western Montana.

“The recent precipitation coupled with prolonged cooling over the past 10 days has essentially ended the fire season over north Idaho and western Montana,” the center said.

But 40 percent of Montana, mostly in the northeastern corner, remains under extreme or exceptional drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor . Big wildfires could erupt there under warm, dry and windy weather, the fire center said.

All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Topics

Subscribe to Our Monthly Newsletter

Stay in the loop with our wildland newsletter.

2017 on pace to be worst season in a decade     HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Cool, damp weather has brought relief from wildfires in the northwestern U.S., northern Idaho and western Montana, but the fall fire season is getting underway in Southern California, forecasters said Sunday. The risk of big wildfires will be above […]

Get The Wildland Firefighter Newsletter

Related Articles

Reckless Burning Charge Against Federal Burn Boss Dismissed

Reckless Burning Charge Against Federal Burn Boss Dismissed

JAYSON JACOBY - Baker City Herald, Ore. Criminal charges have been dismissed against Ricky Lane Snodgrass, the U.S. Forest Service employee charged with reckless burning after overseeing a prescribed fire in Grant County in October 2022. Charges were moved from Grant...