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Wildfire activity well below average for year to-date

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The far West and northern Great Basin are especially prone to wildfires this summer.

Potential for big fires still a concern in California

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For the first time in 10 years, the acreage burned by wildfires was less than 1 million acres as of the beginning of July. With extreme drought and high fire danger in parts of the far West, that could change quickly, but for now, both the number of fires and the acreage affected is well below average for the season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

To-date, 26,684 fires have burned across about 909,000 acres, less than half he average 2.5 million acres for this time of year. By comparison, wildfires had already burned across more than 1.7 million acres last year at this time. In 2011 that number was at 4.8 million acres.

As expected with severe drought conditions, California is seeing the most wildfire activity, with four major fires burning on about 7,000 acres. There are three major fires burning in Nevada on about 2,000 acres.

The most significant wildfire threat remains in the far West and parts of the interior Northwest, with growing danger in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, according to the NIFC.

The wildfire potential is below average in a big swath of the northern Rockies, including western Montana down through northern Wyoming, as well as in the south-central and southeastern U.S.

El Niño could be a factor later in this summer’s wildfire season, but the strength of the cyclical Pacific Ocean weather pattern is still in question. Even so, warmer and drier than average conditions are expected across the far West and Alaska through October, which would boost the wildfire potential in those regions.

Year-to-date statistics
2014 (1/1/14 – 7/3/14) Fires: 26,684 Acres: 909,848
2013 (1/1/13 – 7/3/13) Fires: 22,470 Acres: 1,702,247
2012 (1/1/12 – 7/3/12) Fires: 28,420 Acres: 2,199,484
2011 (1/1/11 – 7/3/11) Fires: 37,187 Acres: 4,859,621
2010 (1/1/10 – 7/3/10) Fires: 30,178 Acres: 1,493,322
2009 (1/1/09 – 7/3/09) Fires: 48,719 Acres: 1,927,842
2008 (1/1/08 – 7/3/08) Fires: 43,497 Acres: 2,597,623
2007 (1/1/07 – 7/3/07) Fires: 47,224 Acres: 1,899,367
2006 (1/1/06 – 7/3/06) Fires: 57,949 Acres: 3,821,505
2005 (1/1/05 – 7/3/05) Fires: 30,609 Acres: 2,483,979
2004 (1/1/05 – 7/3/05) Fires: 39,279 Acres: 1,952,603
Annual average prior 10 years
2004-2013 Fires: 38,553 Acres: 2,493,759

 

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