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Big winter likely means a shorter wildfire season, expert says

National Interagency Fire Center

News brief

The National Interagency Fire Center's four-month outlook predicts normal wildfire activity through July across most of the Mountain West.

For the month of April, the agency warns of above normal wildland fire potential only in southeast Arizona and eastern and southern New Mexico. It expects below average activity around the Four Corners area.

“In a lot of places, there’s just been so much snow that it’s probably going to really, significantly shorten the length of the fire season this year,” said Matthew Hurteau, a fire and forest ecologist at the University of New Mexico.

A Natural Resource Conservation Service interactive map of snow water equivalents – a measure of how much water snowpack contains – shows the Lower Colorado Basin at 446% of its 30-year median, as of April 5. The Upper Colorado Region stands at 160%, the Rio Grande Region 152%. The other regions west of the Rockies are no lower than 121%.

The NIFC outlook for the months of May and June suggest below average wildfire potential in southern Nevada and Utah, northern Arizona and northeast Montana. Come July, NIFC expects above normal activity only in southwest Idaho.

This time of year, Hurteau says most fires are human-caused, so he reminds folks to be responsible and not spark a wildfire.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 KUNM. To see more, visit KUNM.

Emma Gibson
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