National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook

Predictive Services
National Interagency Fire Center
Issued: June 1, 2014
Next Issuance: July 1, 2014
Outlook Period – June, July, and August through September 2014
Executive Summary

The June, July, and August through September 2014 significant wildland fire potential forecasts
included in this outlook represent the cumulative forecasts of the eleven Geographic Area Predictive
Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

- Above normal fire potential will persist over
much of California, southern Arizona, and
southwestern New Mexico. Central Alaska and
the southeast interior will also experience above
normal fire potential. Portions of Northern
California, Oregon and Nevada will increase to
above normal fire potential as well.

- Below normal fire potential will continue for
much of the eastern half of the U.S., with the
notable exception of the Great Lakes, Northeast
and south Atlantic states.

- Above normal fire potential will continue over
most of California, Nevada and Oregon. Portions
of Washington and Idaho will also experience
above normal fire potential. Above normal fire
potential will reduce to near normal conditions in
Alaska and the Southwest. Fire potential will
become above normal in the eastern Great
Lakes states.

- Below normal fire potential will develop over
northern Idaho, Montana and portions of
Wyoming and Colorado. Portions of Texas and
the southeast will also continue to see below
normal fire potential.

August through September
- Above normal fire potential will remain over
most of California, Nevada and Oregon. Portions
of Washington and Idaho will also continue with
above normal fire potential. Fire potential will
expand to cover most of the Northeast.

- Below normal fire potential over the northern
Rocky Mountains will return to normal, while
portions of the south central U.S. remain lower.
Past Weather and Drought

A series of troughs moved through the U.S. in May, producing a broad mix of weather to the nation
throughout the month. Periods of showers, thunderstorms and heavy rain across parts of the central
and southern Rockies, the Gulf Coast, and parts of New England caused river flooding associated
with spring snow melt. Severe weather was scattered throughout the eastern two-thirds of the country.
Small areas of the central and southern Sierras received locally heavy rain and snow.

Temperatures extremes were modest but were very clearly delineated across the country. Average
temperatures were two to four degrees below normal for much of the interior portion of the country
while the West Coast and the Mid-Atlantic region were two to four degrees above normal.

Drought remained severe to worse over most of the southwestern quarter of the nation with
exceptional drought continuing in California, western Nevada, and a large portion of the southern

Left: Departure from Normal Temperature (top) and Percent of Normal Precipitation (bottom) (from High Plains
Regional Climate Center). Right: U.S. Drought Monitor (top) and Drought Outlook (bottom) (from National Drought
Mitigation Center and the Climate Prediction Center)

Weather and Climate Outlooks

Global circulation patterns and equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures continue to indicate a
transition toward an El Niño pattern this summer. The strength of this event is still in doubt and this
casts uncertainty on the specific effects it will have on weather patterns over North America.
Current projections for June by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) indicate a higher probability of
warmer-than-normal conditions for Alaska, the West Coast, the western Great Basin, the central and
southern Plains, and much of Florida. There is a higher probability of cooler-than-normal conditions
over the northern Plains, the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes region, and the western Gulf
Coast. Precipitation is expected to be above median from the northern and central Rockies to the
Southeast and below median precipitation over the Great Lakes region and the Alaska panhandle.

For July through September, higher probabilities for above-normal temperatures will continue in
Alaska and the West, and will spread across the South and along the Atlantic seaboard. Below-
normal temperatures are expected over the Great Lakes region. Precipitation is likely to be above
median across most of the Interior West. Below median precipitation is expected for the western and
central Gulf region.

July - September 2014

Top row: One-month (June) outlook for temperature (left) and precipitation (right). Bottom row: Three month
(July-September) outlook for temperatures (left) and precipitation (right). (from Climate Prediction Center/NOAA)
June 2014

Fuel Conditions

In Alaska fuels are very dry over most of the state particularly in the
western Kenai Peninsula and Tanana Valley. Due to the early snow
melt fuels have become exposed earlier than usual allowing them to
dry more quickly. Recent precipitation in western and southwest
Alaska has reduced fuel dryness somewhat.

For the Northwest, especially east of the Cascades June is
beginning with live fuel moistures at or below normal, while west of
the cascades green-up is ongoing. Heavy dead fuel moistures are
on a downward trend, and in some areas east of the Cascades are
already below normal.

Across California fuels continue much drier than normal. Most large
dead fuels are as dry as would be expected two weeks to a month
further into the season, while upper ridge fuels are over a month
ahead of schedule due to low spring snowpack. In addition, large
scale frost-kill has been reported across many areas where brush is
dominant in Northern California. In Southern California, there is an
increasing amount of dead fuel, especially at lower elevations. Fuels
will continue to be highly receptive to ignition during peak heating
hours. Vegetation showed a surprising amount of green-up during
the late winter and early spring given the dry conditions. Thus, some
areas have seen more grass growth during the past 6 weeks than at
any time during the past two years. Heavier fuels remain extremely
dry and there is an increased component of dead fuels in brush and

For the Northern Rockies Area, live fuels are reaching their peak
green-up in most locations and curing and drying of the fuels will be
more gradual than normal. Expect fuels to not become critically dry
or fully cured in most areas until early-mid August.

Most of northern Nevada is in green-up and fuels will gradually cure
later in June and new grass growth is more widespread here leading
to heavier more continuous fuel bed. Fuel moisture over the rest of
Nevada are rapidly drying due to warmer and drier weather and will
likely fully cure by mid to late June. Over southern Nevada, curing is
near complete at all elevations. Live fuels are showing significant
drought stress in parts of the Area. In the Eastern Basin, the lack of
precipitation across the southwest portion of the Area has resulted in
a limited grass crop, however, the above normal grass crop in
southwest and south-central Idaho provide a heavier and more
continuous fuel bed.

Across the Southwest fuel conditions are very different east and west
of the Great Divide. East of the divide good precipitation late last
year provided a continuous fuel bed. However, these conditions
have been mitigated somewhat by continuous moisture surges that
have increased fuel moistures. West of the divide fuels have not
received significant precipitation so they are generally less
continuous, but much drier due to extended periods of drought.

Rocky Mountain Area higher elevation snow cover is well above
average in all but the southwest portion of Colorado. During the first
half of June these higher elevation fuels will gradually become
Energy Release Component, Ignition
Component, 100 hour and 1000 hr Fuel
Moisture. (from Wildland Fire Assessment

Energy Release Component
100 hour Fuel Moisture

1000 hour Fuel Moisture
Ignition Component
exposed. Otherwise, lower elevations and eastern grasslands are
well into green-up, with far southern Colorado and southwest
Kansas undergoing a delayed and less robust spring green-up. Fire
Danger Indices are near to below average across the Area.

In the Northeast, below normal fuel moistures persisted through
much of May over portions of the Mid-Mississippi Valley. Fuel
moistures across the rest of the Eastern Area were near to above
normal at the end of May. Across the southeastern states, fuel
moistures going into June are at generally moist levels. Drought
values remain lowest over southern Florida. A seasonal increase in
lightning activity coupled with the drier tropical fuels will likely
continue to produce seasonal normal fire activity here.

Fire Season Timing

Alaska has moved into fire season earlier than usual. Fuels have
been snow free with little to no precipitation and are two weeks
ahead of normal seasonal drying. Though the instability needed for
lightning has not yet develop, these dry fuels are allowing a high
probability of ignition in the human-populated corridors of the state.
Expect the onset of the summer convective patterns soon. When
the lighting does arrive, larger fires will become likely as there is
little precipitation in the long range forecast at this time.

Given the dry conditions in some areas of the Northwest, fire
danger is expected to rise more rapidly than usual in June. Much
of Oregon is expected to undergo earlier than usual fire activity due
to the existing dryness amplified by the increased likelihood of hot
weather in June and worsen in July and August.

Due to the extended drought most of California continues to be in
fire season. As the summer develops significant fires can be
expected over central and southern California at any time when
ignitions out pace initial attack or dry and windy conditions lead to
rapid fire growth. Northern California is entering fire season at this
point as well. Limited snow pack over the winter exposed fuels and
will allow higher elevations to burn earlier than usual. As summer
thunderstorms begin to develop expect increased numbers of

The Northern Rockies Area will remain quiet though June. While
there will likely be an increase in the number of wildfire starts in
mid-July, the development of significant wildfire activity may be
delayed into August due to the expected weather and fuel
conditions. If warm and dry conditions develop for the fall, there is
some potential that there could be a late season east of the Divide
given the heavy grass crop grown this year.

In the Great Basin typically starts to see fire potential increase in
May starting over southern Nevada and Utah and gradually
spreads north through July and August. Dry and breezy conditions
will dominate much of June and allow fuels to cure. Therefore the
fire season will likely be on time in much of the lower elevations, but
begin slightly earlier in the mid-higher elevations due to lack of
snowpack, and lack of spring precipitation.

Normal fire season progression across the
contiguous U.S. and Alaska shown by monthly
fire density (number of fires per unit area). Fire
size and fire severity cannot be inferred from this
data. (Based on 1999-2010 FPA Data)

The Southwest is currently in fire season. Timing and placement of the typical monsoonal
development will dictate when fire activity begins to decline. At this point there is moderate
confidence that fire season will slow considerably east of the Divide by early July. West of the Divide
it is likely that monsoonal moisture will be intermittent allowing for the possibility of continued
significant fire activity into July and possibly August.

Rocky Mountain fire season timing thus far has been later than average, which typically begins during
the late May or early June. Generally above average snowpack in the higher elevations, and also a
wetter and cooler than average spring have led to wetter than normal fuel conditions across most
elevations. A very robust green-up of grasses in northern portions of the Area may become
problematic during the fall fire season as these grasses cure and contribute to fuel loading.

An earlier start to the fall fire season may develop across the northeastern portions of the Eastern
Area due to forecasted drying trends. In the southeast at least into early June, fire risks will be
highest in the Florida Peninsula, a result of lower than average rain fall, and the occurrence of lighting
associated with the seasonal increase in thunderstorm activity. For the rest of the South, expect
average to below average fire occurrence for June through August.

Geographic Area Forecasts

Alaska: Above normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for June for South Central and
Interior Alaska, including the western Kenai Peninsula. During July and early August, significant fire
potential is expected to return to normal conditions.

Most of May was exceptionally dry, with some rainfall in western Alaska the last week of the month.

Long range forecast models indicate a warm pattern for Alaska through the summer, especially
across the southwest. The models continue showing no clear signal regarding precipitation patters
over the state but very warm conditions are likely to be accompanied by a dry pattern into July.

If the strong El Niño develops, there is some concern that it might coincide with a delay of season-
ending rains in late July and August. However, current indicators suggest patterns supporting late
season wet conditions will develop. This will be monitored closely as the lack of significant rainfall at
that time could extend the fire season through August and possibly into September.

Northwest: Significant fire potential in Oregon will increase to above normal in June, with conditions
expanding into south central Washington from July through September.

May was warmer than normal over the entire Northwest and drier than normal everywhere except
western Washington and sections of northwest Oregon.

Despite a procession of weather systems since February, the overall accumulation of precipitation
since October has been below average over Oregon and sections of Washington. Climate reporting
zones in sections of Oregon reported 2013-2014 precipitation totals in the driest one third, or worse,
of winters since record keeping began in 1895. Snow accumulation was adequate over the reporting
basins of Washington but poor over most of Oregon where precipitation tended to fall as rain. The one
exception was in northeastern Oregon where ample snowfall has been reported since late 2013.

Official climate outlooks indicated a high probability of warmer-than-normal conditions through the
summer for the Northwest. While warm and dry conditions can elevate large fire potential, they are not
guarantees of intensive large fire activity. Lightning activity is more closely related to increased fire
potential in the region.

Northern California and Hawaii: Significant wildland fire potential is expected to become above
normal for northern California in June and remain above normal from July through September. For
Hawaii, normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for June through September.

June is expected to be below normal in precipitation and above normal for temperatures. There is the
potential of above normal lightning activity by mid-month with weak Pacific low pressure systems. By
mid-month most upper elevations should be dry enough where lightning ignitions could result in large
fires. July through September should feature weak Pacific disturbances occasionally triggering
frequent but small scale lightning events. There should be brief periods of monsoonal thunderstorm
activity but these episodes should be less frequent than normal, due to the developing El Niño. Most
wetting rains during this time of year come from monsoonal thunderstorm activity so overall, expect
below normal precipitation and near normal temperatures.
For Hawaii, most areas have received near to above normal precipitation the past month with much
above normal for the northern Islands, ending the three year drought cycle.

Southern California: Above normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for southern
California from June through September.

While significant rainfall occurred over portions of Central California since early March, it was not
enough to mitigate the effects of the record low precipitation over the previous four months.
Snowpack in the Sierras is under 20 percent of normal and most of the high country is snow-free.

It is possible for the developing El Niño conditions could bring above normal precipitation to portions
of the desert, possibly including the Mojave Desert. Much of this moisture may remain to the east
with occasional intrusions of moisture-laden “monsoonal” air providing afternoon convection.
Enhanced rainfall over the desert may keep fire potential lower over areas east of the mountains, but
the rest of the area will see fuels continue to be highly receptive to ignitions and fires that are highly
resistant to control efforts.

Northern Rockies: Below normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for June and July.
The Idaho Panhandle and all of Montana will see a return to normal significant wildland fire potential
in August and September underscoring a delayed and compressed fire season.

Weather conditions during the month of May were near to slightly below normal for precipitation and
below normal for temperatures. Areas along and west of the Continental Divide received generally
between 75-110 percent of normal precipitation for the month. East of the divide, 100-300 percent of
normal precipitation accumulated. Below normal temperatures continued to slow the melting of the
mountain snowpack in the mountains.

From a precipitation and drought perspective, El Niño summers can be slightly wetter than normal as
they can open the region up to a quieter northwesterly to westerly flow pattern and fewer long-term
ridging events. This scenario has historically produced wet summer convection during critical periods
in July and early August. Looking ahead into September, the month should feature a transition toward
warmer and drier than normal conditions. There is a small chance that eastern Montana and North
Dakota could have a spike in fire activity late in the month.

Western Great Basin: Significant fire potential will increase to above normal in June across most
Nevada. Above normal potential will continue for western and northern Nevada from July through

Despite near normal precipitation across northern and western Nevada, severe to extreme drought
continues for most of the Western Great Basin, with the worst conditions across the western half.
Snowpack diminished to less than 30 percent of normal over western and northern Nevada and
remained higher in the Ruby Mountains in northeastern Nevada. The drought conditions are expected
to persist or intensify through the end of August, 2014.

The transition to El Niño may greatly impact the weather across the Western Great Basin with periods
of increased precipitation, especially if the transition occurs quickly. If the transition occurs late, then
the effect on fire season will be reduced, or delayed until later in August. Forecast confidence is
highest for June and July, but moderate for August and low for September depending on a transition
to El Niño. The main concerns will be middle to upper elevations and in areas of higher fuel continuity
and fuel loading based on spring growth.

Eastern Great Basin: Normal significant wildland fire potential is expected across most of the area in
June. Above normal significant fire potential is expected across southwestern and central Idaho in
July through September. Below normal significant wildland fire potential conditions are expected for
extreme eastern Idaho and western Wyoming.

Late spring brought much-needed precipitation at just the right time to green up the brush fuels and
produce a healthy grass crop across Idaho and northern Utah. Small areas in central Idaho, far
southwestern Utah, and the Arizona Strip remained very dry, limiting fuel growth. A different scenario
exists in western Wyoming and the far eastern fringe of Idaho where snow water equivalent is still
very high and should delay the onset of fire season there.

Despite recent precipitation, much of the area remains in moderate to severe drought with extreme
conditions developing in south central Idaho.

June will likely see normal to above normal temperatures over much of the region, with above normal
precipitation that may continue through July and August. This should moderate the underlying drought
conditions. The exception may be across the mid to high elevations of southwestern Utah where
shrubs and heavy fuels are very dry and could see advanced fire behavior and spread during a hot,
dry and windy period. By early September large fire potential should be decreasing to normal as fall
storms will likely begin to move into the region.

Southwest: Above normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for June across most of
Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. It is expected this area will return to normal significant fire
potential in July and remain normal through September.

An up-and-down temperature and precipitation pattern has characterized the last 30 to 60 days. The
remainder of the late spring-early summer period will likely continue this unsettled pattern with
periods of slightly below to normal temperatures. Breezy to windy episodes can be expected as
systems pass by to the north interspersed with some periods of warmer temperatures. Eventually
moisture will arrive from the southeast but most likely not until late June.

The timing of the monsoon is always difficult to predict, but there is reasonable certainty that it will be
delayed this year. There is also some confidence that areas along and east of the Continental Divide
will be wetter compared to areas west of the Divide.

Rocky Mountain: Significant wildland fire potential is expected to be normal for the Rocky Mountain
Area June through September. In July north-central Colorado is expected to see below normal
significant fire potential.

This year’s early spring pattern was not as wet across the area as the last. However, an active May
kept conditions cooler and wetter for all but portions of southern Colorado, Kansas, and eastern
Nebraska. Early June predictions continue the active pattern, favoring average to above average
precipitation and mild temperatures. In the longer range, precipitation and temperature forecasts point
toward near to above average precipitation through the summer, and average to below average
temperatures overall across the area.

Long term drought continues across much of the southern and eastern portions of the area.
Precipitation deficits over the last 30 days have been significant across the southwestern Kansas, and
to a lesser extent, southern Colorado and southeastern Nebraska. Snowpack remains well above
average in most major drainages this year, with the exception of southwestern Colorado where values
are below average.

An overall wetter and cooler than average trend is anticipated to continue into early June with a
predicted active weather pattern. Additionally, with long range outlooks still favoring at least average
rainfall and temperatures near to below average, below average fire potential is likely across northern
Wyoming as well as over the mountains of northern Colorado and south-central Wyoming. Heavy fuel
loading may develop and pose fire problems during the fall months as a result of the vigorous spring
green-up in the lower elevations and grasslands across northern portions of the area.

Eastern Area: The area will remain in normal significant wildland fire potential for June. In July The
Great Lakes region will increase to above normal fire potential which will continue into August and
September as it expands eastward to include New England. The remainder of the Eastern Area will
remain near normal significant fire potential for the duration of the period.

Soil moisture and precipitation were below normal during May across portions of Iowa, northern
Illinois, and western Missouri, as well as north central and southwestern Minnesota. Below normal
soil moisture anomalies were also indicated over central portions of the Mid-Atlantic States at the end
of May. The rest of the Eastern Area experienced near to above normal precipitation and cooler than
normal temperatures overall through the first half of the spring season.

Cooler than normal trends overall are forecast to persist across much of the Great Lakes into June
2014. This should create near to below normal overall fire potential across much of the Great Lakes
into June. Drier than normal conditions may develop as the summer progresses, spreading into the
northeastern portion of the Eastern Area through the second half of the summer. This may lead to
periods of elevated fire potential across these portions of the Eastern Area as the summer progresses
into the fall. Wetter than normal trends are forecast to persist across the southern tier of the Mid-
Mississippi and Lower Ohio Valleys into the first part of the summer curtailing large fire potential.

Southern Area: Normal to below normal significant wildland fire potential is expected for June
through September.

May rain activity, especially across the driest areas of western Oklahoma and western Texas late in
the month, significantly improved the short term drought situation. Along with past rain activity across
the rest of the Southern Area, very good precipitation anomaly picture is in place entering the summer
months. The wetter pattern is expected to continue at least through June. Seasonal tropical activity is
seen for Puerto Rico.

Outlook Objectives

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook is intended as a decision support tool for
wildland fire managers, providing an assessment of current weather and fuels conditions and how
these will evolve in the next four months. The objective is to assist fire managers in making proactive
decisions that will improve protection of life, property and natural resources, increase fire fighter safety
and effectiveness, and reduce firefighting costs.

For questions about this outlook please contact the National Interagency Fire Center at (208) 387-5050
or your local Geographic Area Predictive Services Unit.

Note: Additional Geographic Area assessments may be available at the specific GACC websites. The GACC websites can
also be accessed through the NICC webpage at:

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