Posted: May 1, 2013 3:42 PM by Meteorologist Mike Heard
Updated: May 1, 2013 3:50 PM
The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook was issued today and will be updated on June 1.
The report covers the entire U.S., however, looking at the local wildland fire potential for SW Montana they issued this forecast:
July and August above normal significant fire potential will remain in California, Oregon and Washington while expanding into central Idaho and southwestern Montana.
Climate Prediction Center long range forecast is calling for below normal precipitation for western and southwestern Montana and near to slightly above normal temperatures for southern Montana for the 90 period of June, July and August.
Northern Rockies: Significant wildland fire potential is expected to be near normal throughout the entire area through May and June. In July and August, however, expect above normal significant wildland fire potential to develop across portions of southwestern Montana and northern Idaho.
The snow year ended with mountain snowpack near normal in all basins. The late recovery is more a result of cool conditions in late April that delayed the onset of melt than that addition of late season snow. This can be seen in departure from normal precipitation for the last 60 days which shows significant deficits across much of western Montana, especially southwest Montana where severe drought conditions are expanding northward and westward. Soil moisture in this area is near record low values. This is the same area that usually has a high likelihood for lightning activity. This raises significant concerns for the peak of the upcoming fire season and will need to be monitored closely as spring unfolds.
East of the Continental Divide, significant improvement has occurred across much of southeastern Montana and North Dakota. The cool, wet pattern has provided some drought relief, thus enabling the region to experience a full green up and thus reduce the early season fire danger. The relief could prove to be temporary, however, as long range data suggests overall warm and dry conditions through much of the spring. While southeastern Montana and North Dakota have experienced some drought relief, the same cannot be said of south central Montana which continues to experience extreme drought conditions along with near record low soil moisture. South central Montana may be the first area to see significant wildland fire activity this year.
The Northern Rockies will remain out of fire season until mid to late June as live fuels experience green up and then begin to cure. A normal start to the primary fire season is expected beginning in south central and southeastern Montana in late June followed by a gradual transition westward with the drying and curing of the fuels. The core of fire season across western Montana and northern Idaho should begin in mid to late July and hit its stride in August.