The entry into the Western fire season is expected to be normal
National Interagency Fire Center
Outlook Period May, June,and July 2020
Fire activity remained light in April in the United States. Southern Area received the most reports of wildfire occurrence followed by the Great Basin. The Southwest began to see as light increase in activity late in the month. Drier than average conditions developed along the Mexican Border and across the Pacific Northwest as both areas received less than 25% of average precipitation. Great improvement was observed across Southern California and far southwestern Nevada where precipitation amounts were nearly 800% of normal during the first half of the month. Florida and South Texas also experienced gradual improvement. Temperatures were generally near to below average except along the West Coast and across the Deep South where they were above average. The transition toward summer began in late April as high pressure ridge events over the West became more frequent.
Mountain snowpack remained above average on the Continental Divide, Canadian Border, and in the Alaskan Interior. It was below average across the High Sierra, Southern Cascades, Great Basin, Sawtooth Mountains, Kenai Peninsula, and the Chugach Mountains. Snowpack melting rates accelerated during late April across the Inland West, Oregon, Central Washington and the Kenai Peninsula. Drought intensification and expansion was observed in the Northwest.
Overall, the entry into the Western fire season is expected to be normal; however, there are areas of concern emerging. While the Pacific Northwest received beneficial precipitation in late April and will continue to do so in early May, the overall pattern has been warm and dry which may be problematic for Oregon and 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.