I am a little late forwarding out the current National Wildland Fire Potential. I’ll be sharing this through the fire season until we get our season ending event.
This is as we would expect given our dry spring and spreading drought. The good news is that we in the North Fork are in a better position than most of the West. That is not much consolation since the outlook across the West is grim. Specifically for the Northern Rockies, here are some excerpts: Continue reading June 1st National Wildland Fire Potential
Well, there is Good News and Not as Good News in this Month’s Wildland Fire Potential Outlook!
The Good News is that Montana is now not forecasted for an “Above Normal” September as it has been in the past two Outlooks.
The “Not as Good” News is that things are critically dry across the State. Energy Release Components, an indication of the volatility of the fuels, are in the 95th to 97th percentile, which is pretty much pegging the meter.
For the most part, we have avoided the large fires associated with these seasonally dry fuel conditions. I think the lack of numerous starts from dry lightning storms factors into the equation. And, as we move into September, the potential for dry thunderstorms drops off.
However, there are numerous other ways fires can start – most of them human. Three fires started earlier this week along Highway 200 outside of Plains/Paradise where a flat tire on a trailer sparked fires with the wheel contacting the pavement throwing sparks. Unattended campfires are always a concern – even transitioning out of the summer camping season into the fall hunting season with hunter fires.
So, continue to be careful out there. If we get some of the forecasted moisture alluded to in the narrative, we’ll get out of this fire season relatively intact. More time to work on fuels projects for next fire season! Only You….
As expected, Northwest Montana continues to be projected as above normal for fire activity through August and September. We can all be glad that the moisture we got at the end of June and the first of July pushed our fire season out from becoming active in early to mid July.
But, with the current temperatures, low overnight temperature and humidity recovery, and live fuels suffering due to the combination of those factors, we can become pretty volatile pretty quickly.
The other aspect of this Outlook indicates we will have enough moisture in the air masses pushing up from the 4 Corners area to stimulate convective activity – dry thunderstorms. So, we can wind up with a lot of new starts from lightning.
Probably not telling any of you anything you don’t know – but it is a good time to get those fire tools shaped up, tanks mounted in 4 wheelers, and watching the lightning maps.
Here is the link to the complete Wildland Fire Potential Outlook. As we have said before, these Outlooks are useful but there are no guarantees.
The Current Wildland Fire Potential Outlook has been posted, and it refines the forecast for our fire season in Northwest Montana. We did see benefit from the significant moisture received over the past two weeks, so our season will be delayed until later in July. That is good news. But August and September are still forecast to be Above Normal Fire Activity for Northwest Montana.
Here is the important stuff for the Northern Rockies:
“Normal fire potential is now anticipated to continue through most of July due to the recent passage of moist, Pacific troughs and beneficial precipitation in the latter half of June and forecast to continue in a weaker version by various CPC outlooks into the middle of the month. In late July and August, Above Normal significant wildland fire potential is anticipated to develop in all the Western PSAs 01-09 and expand eastward into central and southeastern Montana, possibly as far east as western North Dakota. One reason is the predicted monsoonal lightning pattern which could be robust under a strong ridge of high pressure during that time with above average potential lightning ignitions in dry fuel beds. Above Normal potential will continue for those same areas in September with the outlooks calling for warmer and drier than average conditions.”
August and September will be busy for us. Be prepared!
Here is the link for the entire report: https://www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf
Here is the weblink for the current outlook:
As I said, the Outlooks issued June 1 and July 1 give us a much better picture of how the fire season might shape up. And, it is not looking good for Northwestern Montana. We are forecast to have a more active than normal fire season in July, August and September.
Here is an excerpt from the write-up for the Northern Rockies (our Geographic Area including North Idaho, all of Montana, and bits of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming):
In the western areas, higher than average soil moistures from recent precipitation, and within the remaining snowpack, will provide healthy live fuels growth and limit any significant areas of dry fuels in June in the middle and higher elevations. This will maintain normal fire potential in June. Considering that the Climate Prediction Center outlooks are indicating increasingly drier and warmer than average conditions during the core fire season months, Above Normal significant large fire potential is anticipated from July through August and will continue into September for PSAs 01-09. Although the likelihood is minimal, the potential of a La Niña ENSO pattern developing in late summer or early autumn could enhance the fire potential or extend the duration of the fire season. (Note: The North Fork falls within PSA 7 which includes Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. The North Fork, being on the west edge of PSA 7, is sometimes more similar to PSA 2 which includes the Kootenai National Forest and Eureka and can be drier.)
In addition, the monsoonal moisture forecast for the Southwest will push up into our area – and will likely increase the scope and scale of dry lightning storms in July and August. We might be looking at a fire season similar to 2003, 2007, and 2017. We have to hope that the North Fork will be more similar to 2017 than 2003. Cross your fingers and be prepared. Again, these forecasts are useful but are often not incredibly accurate. It can either be better or worse than forecast. And as in 2017, a lot comes down to how many starts we have (both lightning and human-caused) and what weather conditions exist at the time (wind especially) and the fuel bed it starts in and resistance to control.
[You can download the May 1 Fire Season Outlook by clicking here (PDF format, 1.03MB).]
The Outlook is ominous for Northwest Montana. This is early — the June 1 and July 1 Outlooks will be much more reliable. However, it is enough to make us concerned about the fire season, more so than usual.
Time to get things squared away while we can. I’ll send the June and July Outlooks when available.
Thanks to all. Allen
Greetings! Here is the July/August/September Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued today. No big change here:
While we have appreciated the moisture we received lately, we are still behind in overall precipitation for the year. And while there is probability of showers in the forecast, I’m thinking things are going to dry out – and probably quickly by late July. So, we will transition into an active fire season certainly by the end of July. Still time to prepare – I know I have to get our sprinkler system set up!
Northwestern Montana (including the Flathead) is forecasted for above normal large fire potential starting in mid-July and continuing through August into at least mid-September.
So, it has the potential to be a busy fire season in the North Fork. Click on the link below for the report.
Here is the October 1 Wildland Fire Potential Outlook: https://www.nifc.gov/nicc/predictive/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf
Not much of a surprise here. As I was discussing with Lynn Ogle last week, we haven’t had a “season-ending” event, but the door is slowly closing on the fire season in the North Fork. Note the forecast for warmer temperatures and below average snowpack for the Northern Rockies over the winter.
So, watch out for your burning conditions – we could still have warm, windy days where fires could escape in light flashy fuels. Always do your test fire (with water handy) to see how it carries in the fuels surrounding your burn piles. That will tell you a lot.
Thanks to all of you. Have a great burning season, and a good winter! Allen