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Fire season kicks off with over a dozen wildfires across Alaska as moderate drought in western states indicates higher than average wildland fire danger

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Fire season kicks off with over a dozen wildfires across Alaska as moderate drought in western states indicates higher than average wildland fire danger



Division of Forestry spokesperson Tim Mowry said over a dozen wildfires cropped up around the state over the weekend.

“Yea, we had several fires pop up in Southcentral Alaska, mainly Mat-Su Valley, Kenai Peninsula over the weekend. We had more than a dozen fires on state protection areas,” he explained.

Mowry said that earlier snowmelts and later winters around the state have led to a longer fire season.

“That still does vary year to year. Last year for example, a real late spring and things didn’t get started up until early May,” he added. “It’s really weather-dependent and snowmelt-dependent. This year, we lost our snow around the state earlier than normal. So that did trigger sort of an earlier start to that pre-green-up fire season.”

What is occurring currently in Alaska is matching the predictions of the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook which forecast that “Alaska’s interior is becoming drier and increasing activity is expected.”

By late May and early June, California and the southern Great Basin will see an increase in activity as fine fuels dry and cure. In July, low and middle elevation fine fuels will dry across the remainder of the West and will gradually become receptive to fire activity from south to north. Unlike most years, there could be a delayed start to the season in the higher, timbered elevations due to preexisting weather conditions and slower than average snowpack melting rates. An exception to this could be along the Canadian Border with Washington, Idaho, and western Montana where below average snowpack and moderate drought conditions exist. These areas can expect an average start to the season with a potential for above normal activity. A normal transition out of fire season is expected across Alaska in July. The onset of the southwestern monsoon may be slightly delayed.

August marks the beginning of the peak of the western fire season. Most of the country can expect Normal conditions. Exceptions will be along the West Coast. A heavy crop of grasses and fine fuels has developed across California and should elevate the potential as it cures and dries. Higher elevations in the Sierra will likely see a late entry into the season due to the record-setting snowpack and slow meltoff. The Pacific Northwest has entered a period of moderate drought. An early entry is possible across the Cascades and in the Okanogan. Elsewhere, some high elevations across the Great Basin and central Rockies could experience Below Normal potential and conditions.

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Contributed by Sean Walton of The Daily Sheeple.

Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple. Send tips to sean.walton@thedailysheeple.com.

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Sean Walton is a researcher and journalist for The Daily Sheeple. Send tips to sean.walton@thedailysheeple.com.

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