Wet Winter May Mean Late Fire Season Risk This Year

Published: Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 4:40pm

A wet winter doesn’t necessarily mean reduced wildfire activity for this upcoming season. The National Interagency Fire Center is calling for a late start — but a potentially fierce finish across the West.

Loads of winter snow, still present on peaks in parts of the high country, followed by spring rains that flooded many Western states, were a blessing in the short term. But in the long term, the excess wetness may be an omen.

Jared Jablonski with the NIFC says its outlook reflects that late season risk.

“Due to all that moisture, we’re also seeing a larger volume of grasses in the greenup right now. So, when the fire season does start at the lower elevations, there is definitely a potential for larger fires this year,” Jablonski said.

While much of the arid west has been wet, more humid parts of the country have been excessively dry. With fires already burning, the fire risk remains high through the next two months in Florida and Georgia.

Arizona and the Southwest are expected to sweat out June until monsoon season kicks in.

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