2016 Fire Season Poised to be ‘Normal’ Like 2010, 1998
Montana may experience some fire season relief this summer. Fire weather meteorologist Bryan Henry with the Northern Rockies Coordination Center says nearly all the evidence points to an average year.
"Fire season 2016, based on the current available data, suggests that we are going to have an average fire season this year, as opposed to the above average fire season last year," Henry said. "We look at about 17 different variables and we only have two that point to an above average fire season, but we also have two that point to a below normal fire season, the rest of them fall right into that normal category."
“Normal” has changed a lot since the new century began. Henry explains what analysts are expecting now.
"A normal fire season in the Northern Rockies Region is one in which there are about 3,000 fire starts that burn about 200,000 to 220,000 acres," Henry said. "We looked back at the historical record to try to find some similar years that matched up with the data for 2016, the two years that were most similar were 1998 and 2010, and both of those years were not severe fire years in our region."
Forecasters also expect consistent moisture through summer, and a lot of snow next winter because of an incoming la Nina. Henry says the fire season may take a turn for the worse though if low moisture storm systems pour into Montana and cause lightning fires during the dry part of summer.