National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook

National Interagency Fire Center Predictive Services Issued: June 1, 2010
Next Issue: July 1, 2010

Wildland Fire Outlook – June through September 2010
The June, and July through September, 2010 significant fire potential outlooks are shown below. The primary factors influencing these outlooks are: • • Drought: Drought conditions continue to persist over portions of the northwest quarter of the country, the Great Lakes, Alaska, and the leeward side of the Hawaiian Islands. Grassland Fuels: Abundant fine fuels across southern Arizona, southern California deserts, and southern Nevada are expected to lead to a 4-6 week active grassland fire season. Fire potential is expected to be below normal across portions of the Great Basin due to the lack of dense fine fuels. Fire Season Onset: In areas with above average winter snowpack and/or abundant spring precipitation, fire season onset will be delayed, especially at the higher elevations. Southwest Monsoon: Early indications suggest monsoon onset will occur around the typical start date with associated precipitation amounts near normal for the season.

• •

Note: Significant fire potential is defined as the likelihood that a wildland fire event will require mobilization of additional resources from outside the area in which the fire situation originates.

Past Weather and Drought
May was colder than normal over the West and warmer than normal in the East, especially across the Southeast. Precipitation over the last 90 days (below left) shows persistent dryness over the Great Lakes as well as portions of the Southeast. Drought is forecast to persist across the Great Lakes, portions of the northwest quarter of the country, Hawaii and Alaska. May in Alaska was much warmer and drier than normal with interior stations showing about 50% of normal precipitation for the normally dry month of May. The dry weather even extended into the normally wet panhandle. Widespread dry lightning resulted in the highest number of wildfires during May in the last 6 years.

www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/monitoring/drought/

www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html

http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current/

Weather and Climate Outlooks
El Niño continues to weaken to a neutral state with more normal sea surface temperatures. La Niña conditions are likely to develop by late summer into early fall. The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s monthly and seasonal outlooks reflect a combination of neutral/La Niña impacts, soil moisture conditions, the latest numerical weather model output (out to 14 days) and long term climate trends.

A = Above normal, B = Below normal, N = Normal, EC = Equal Chances of Above/Below/Normal. www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/multi_season/13_seasonal_outlooks/color/page2.gif

Area Discussions
Alaska: Above normal significant fire potential is expected to persist through June, then transition to normal for the remainder of the outlook period. Below normal winter snowpack over much of Alaska has contributed to lower than normal fuel moistures. Drought conditions have developed over the last 10 months resulting in extremely dry fuels. In fact, several fires from last summer have smoldered throughout the winter to reemerge this spring. Alaska is forecast to be under strong high pressure through much of June, which will contribute to warm weather, dry fuels and increased dry lightning potential. The July through September forecast calls for a shift in the weather pattern which should produce more normal temperatures and precipitation. Therefore, fire activity is anticipated to become closer to normal as the season progresses. Southwest: Significant fire potential is expected to be below normal across the higher elevations of the Area through June and above normal for the southwestern half of Arizona through mid-July. Normal significant fire potential is expected elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. June is forecast to have warmer than normal temperatures in the west and normal to below normal temperatures in the east. Periodic above normal precipitation is expected across approximately the eastern 1/3 of the Area during the first part of June. Most areas further west will experience below normal to normal precipitation. Westward surges of moisture by mid-late month could lead to some dry or mixed wet/dry lightning outbreaks in Arizona. June, a usually hot and dry month, is seen as the most critical time period for above average fire potential in southwestern Arizona during which fine fuels may cure rapidly, leading to a active 4-6 week fire season until the onset of the monsoon. Temperatures will likely be above average for the extended outlook period. July through September precipitation forecasts call for near normal precipitation with driest conditions across the southeastern sections, and wettest conditions across the northern and western portions of the Area. A normal onset of the summer monsoon is expected with good moisture into the region sometime in early-mid July. Northern Rockies: Normal significant fire potential is expected for June, increasing to above normal significant fire potential by mid-July and continuing through August for portions along and west of the Great Divide. Normal significant fire potential is expected elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. June tends to be the wettest month across the Geographic Area, especially during El Niño conditions. Snowpack has been well below normal for most mountain areas along and west of the Divide this winter and the spring has been a bit cooler and drier than normal. Fire activity is expected to increase by mid-June which is a normal start time for the fire season. There is a very prominent dry signal along and west of the Great Divide, including Yellowstone Park, where fire activity could potentially become problematic by mid-July as fuels dry out. Carryover fine fuels from 2008 and 2009, along with adequate spring rains this year, have produced an above normal load of fine fuels across the Area. The climate forecast for July through August calls for near normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. Some wind events towards the end of August and early September can be expected with dry cold fronts that may temporarily elevate fire potential. Great Basin: Significant fire potential is expected to be below normal across most of Nevada, and south-central and southwest Utah. Above normal significant fire potential is predicted for extreme southern Nevada through mid-July, and central Idaho and northwest Wyoming beginning in mid-July and continuing through August. Normal significant fire potential is expected elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. The climate forecast for June calls for above normal temperatures and normal precipitation. The July through September time period will likely be warmer than normal across the region and drier than normal across the northwest half of the region. Southern Nevada expects to see increased fire activity until the onset of the monsoon season due to warm temperatures and winter moisture providing for significant fine fuel growth. Much of central and northern Nevada is expected to have below normal significant fire potential throughout the outlook period due to the lack of fine fuel growth. Nevada’s active fire years typically have well above normal winter rainfall, abundant grass and an above average snowpack, most of which is lacking in 2010. Given a significant lightning episode, Nevada could experience a near normal number of acres

burned. Greenup is currently underway across most of Eastern Great Basin, but a persistent low pressure trough pattern through May has kept the region cool and relatively wet. Grass growth is stunted but fine fuels are fairly continuous, so fuel loadings are low. Curing of fuels will likely be delayed until late June for most areas. Southeast Utah will likely cure earliest and therefore expect to see fire potential increase there first. Once fuels are cured, the biggest fire potential threat is likely to be in the mountains of central/eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. Very low moisture conditions, increased bark beetle impacts and anticipated hot, dry summer conditions enhance the threat in these locations. The west deserts and central/southern Utah mountains will likely not be receptive to fire for a long period of time before anticipated monsoon moisture increases humidity and precipitation frequency. This should shorten the fire season and reduce potential/activity to below normal levels. Northwest: Above normal significant fire potential is forecast for extreme northern and eastern Washington in mid-July through August and extreme southern Oregon in August and September. Normal significant fire potential is expected elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. Cooler and wetter spring weather across the Area has slowed snow melt to normal timing despite decreased snowpack from a warm, dry winter. Climate outlooks suggest cooler and wetter than normal conditions for portions of the Area with a drier than normal pattern setting up for the July through September period. The predicted summer climate pattern may lean towards lightning activity in Okanogan region of north-central Washington and therefore a higher likelihood of significant fire potential. Elsewhere, some spikes in large fire activity are expected during the summer fire season, especially in the drier regions of southeastern Washington and south-central Oregon. California and Hawaii: Above normal significant fire potential is forecast for the deserts of southern California through mid-July, northeast California for August and September, and the leeward side of the Hawaiian Islands for the entire outlook period. Below normal significant fire potential is forecast for the central Sierra Nevada and central coast for the entire outlook period. Normal significant fire potential is expected elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. Although much of California received abundant precipitation over the winter, northeastern California developed drought conditions that, despite the recent cool and wet pattern, are forecast to persist throughout the summer. This will contribute to lower fuel moistures and higher fire danger indices as the season progresses. In general, green-up and curing of herbaceous fuels are occurring on a normal schedule for northern California. Damage to trees from winter storms will add to the downed fuel load in some locations across the state. Fire activity is expected to increase, as normal, throughout the month of June. Normal to above normal temperatures are expected throughout the outlook period with dryness expected to develop across northern California for the extended outlook period. Abundant fine fuel growth across the southern California deserts from the wet winter, is expected to lead to increased fire activity until increased moisture arrives from the onset of the monsoon. Below normal risk of large fires is anticipated over the central coast and portions of the central Sierra Nevada where persistent winter and spring weather patterns have brought plentiful precipitation. Drought is expected to persist along the leeward side of the Hawaiian Islands through the summer. Rocky Mountain: Normal significant fire potential is forecast for most of the Rocky Mountain Area. Above normal potential is forecast for northwestern Wyoming, centered on the Shoshone National Forest and Wind River Range, pertaining primarily to the mid-July through August time frame. Snowpack remains below average across western Wyoming; however precipitation increased across that area during May, slightly improving drought conditions. Southwest Colorado mountains experienced a significant melt-off during May bringing snowpack levels below 40% of normal. In northwest Wyoming, below average winter snowpack, severe drought conditions and forecasted hot and dry conditions in July through September support increase fire potential. Similar concerns may develop across western Wyoming and northwest Colorado; however confidence in such development is low at this point in time. Some fuels-related fire potential concerns remain, such as: grasses and shrubs in eastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas, and areas of insect-related tree mortality in north-central Colorado, the panhandle of Nebraska, and the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Elsewhere across the Area, short durations of fuel and fire weather conditions that support large fire activity are expected to develop.

Eastern Area: Significant fire potential is expected to be above normal over the northern Great Lakes through June, with normal potential expected elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. Much of the north central and northeast Great Lakes as well as the northwestern Mid-Atlantic states received below normal precipitation through May. In addition, fire danger indices across these areas were at or above the 90th percentile with soil moisture much below normal. A transition from an El Niño to neutral conditions is currently underway. During previous transitions, the Great Lakes has experienced below normal precipitation trends into the early summer months. Therefore, above normal fire potential is expected to persist across the north central and northeast Great Lakes through June where moderate to severe levels of drought are in place. Conditions across the northwest MidAtlantic States northward into portions of the Northeast will also need to be monitored into the early summer months due to dryness. However, short term weather trends such as warm, windy days will be the main influence on fire potential across these areas throughout the summer. Southern Area: Significant fire potential is forecast to be above normal for portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana throughout the outlook period, and normal to below normal elsewhere for the remainder of the outlook period. Persistent drought and the anticipated dryness trends for the summer suggests that this area may see above normal significant fire potential through the outlook period. Northern Florida will continue to be monitored for development of any conditions that could spike ignition potential above normal. Much of the Area will see normal to below normal fire activity resulting from average to above average rainfall activity.

Historic and Predicted Wildland Fires and Acres Burned Data
Based on data reported Year-to-Date in 2010, nationally there were 81 percent of the average numbers of fires burning approximately 63 percent of the average acres. Nationally, as of May 31, the 10 year average number of fires is 31,652 and the 10 year average acres burned is 1,063,019. The following table displays 10 year historical, current and predicted information pertaining to fire statistics.
MAY 31, 2010 Reported Year-To-Date Average reported for JUNE Projection for June YTD+Forecast Average Reported YTD JUN 30 ALASKA 429 299 924,580 354,154 NORTHWEST 300 623 7,637 22,778 NORTH OPS 1,040 1,229 15,522 36,741 SOUTH OPS 1,219 1,714 33,526 38,714 NORTHERN ROCKIES 638 877 5,931 23,135 EAST BASIN 321 442 24,512 55,722 WEST BASIN 134 215 15,511 105,393 SOUTHWEST 1,418 2,059 164,054 340,252 ROCKY MOUNTAIN 570 846 43,614 87,560 EASTERN AREA 8,690 8,902 82,981 97,208 SOUTHERN AREA 17,130 24,676 284,714 821,495 NATIONALLY 31,916 41,881 1,602,843 1,983,153 Historical Low YTD JUN 30 197 6,896 387 1,914 597 2,533 1,089 5,275 481 8,599 235 1,114 139 390 1,542 45,178 522 6,010 6,760 45,323 10,757 185,030 26,880 728,615 Year of Low 2006 2008 2003 2003 2005 2005 2003 2000 2005 2005 2008 2009 2008 2009 2004 2001 2001 2003 2004 2008 2003 2003 2003 2003 Historical High YTD JUN 30 358 963,685 926 113,902 2,294 269,091 3,155 84,402 1,359 50,069 617 138,227 294 731,377 3,010 836,005 1,485 365,333 11,919 172,246 37,090 2,273,271 57,248 3,656,940 Year of High 1999 2002 2004 2000 2008 2008 2002 2008 2004 2008 2001 2002 2004 2005 2006 2002 2006 2002 2009 2003 2006 2006 2006 2006

Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres Fires Acres

262 259,946 98 316 384 849 596 8,066 430 4,107 108 555 31 79 715 58,315 279 18,873 8,040 81,179 14,851 242,118 25,794 674,403

139 302,106 404 20,918 821 32,608 831 28,288 259 5,210 328 53,238 137 102,879 879 176,232 416 44,984 764 2,403 3,799 121,703 8,777 890,568

Prepared June 1, 2010 by the National Interagency Coordination Center Predictive Services Staff. The information above was obtained primarily from Incident Management Situation Reports from 2000-2009, however some inaccuracies and inconsistencies have been corrected. Therefore, the data may not reflect other historic records and should not be considered for official statistical purposes. Note: This national outlook and some geographic area assessments are currently available at the NICC and GACC websites. The GACC websites can also be accessed though the NICC webpage at: http://www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/outlooks.htm

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful