Outlook for 2003 wildfire season
Eds: Also on Western regional wire
With BC-Wildfire Season
By The Associated Press
Region-by-region outlook for 2003 wildfire season:
NORTHWEST: Dropping fuel moisture and expected dry lightning
likely means an active fire season in eastern Oregon and parts of
the Oregon Cascades. In Alaska, low snowpack is expected to lead to
an increase in fires caused by people along transportation routes
and in hunting areas.
SOUTHWEST: A short but active season is predicted across parts
of New Mexico and West Texas due to drought, a lack of spring
moisture and above normal temperatures expected in July. More grass
and brush fires are forecast.
CALIFORNIA/GREAT BASIN: Dead timber in Southern California and
an increase in lightning in Northern California will likely
contribute to an above average season there. Increases in tree and
shrub deaths from lack of water and insect infestations will
contribute to extreme fuels, leading to an above normal fire
potential in southwest Idaho, the Sierra Front, southeastern
Nevada, the Arizona Strip and eastern Utah.
ROCKY MOUNTAINS: Snowpack is better than in 2002, and forecasts
show Colorado, southeast Wyoming, southwestern Nebraska and western
Kansas will have average spring precipitation. But potential
remains high for an above average fire season, especially in parts
of Wyoming, the Black Hills, the Northern Front Range and northwest
Colorado. In the Northern Rockies, rainfall and snowpack have
improved in western Montana and parts of Idaho, but dry fuels and
stressed vegetation from drought will likely lead to large fire
EAST: Rainfall in April helped lessen the fire potential some,
but not enough to make up the deficit from an inadequate snowfall
over much of the Great Lakes area. Western Maine and portions of
the Great Lake states are expected to have above-normal fire
potential while the rest of the East will probably have a normal
SOUTH: Weather conditions continued to dampen fire potential
over the majority of the South through April except in Oklahoma,
where there have been numerous fires in storm-damaged timbered
areas. Fire danger remains below normal for this time of year, and
should remain in the normal to below normal range.
Source: National Interagency Fire Center
On the Net:
National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)