Wildfire outlook: Nevada risk high through September
On June 24, 2007, a runaway campfire changed the lives of a generation of Lake Tahoe residents. Footage provided by ABC 10 in Sacramento. Benjamin Spillman/RGJ
High risk will linger in western Nevada while decreasing elsewhere
The western wildland fire season is reaching its peak and will head into decline by the end of the month, except in western Nevada around Reno and Carson City.
That’s according to the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued Friday by the National Interagency Fire Center.
The seasonal outlook forecasts the nation’s fire risk by region.
“Fire season will peak by mid-September as the fuels remain much drier than average and as existing precipitation trends continue,” the overall forecast stated. “By mid-September decreasing solar radiation received and longer nights will allow for fuel moistures to begin recovering.”
Although the forecast calls for declining risk in most regions there are areas, such as western Nevada, where danger will linger.
“As fall like storms move into the Great Basin during October and November, in combination with longer nights and cooler temperatures, the overall fire potential should decrease to near normal,” the outlook stated. “There may be one exception to this forecast and that is over far western Nevada along the Sierra Front where, due to above normal grass crap, large fires are possible during any dry, windy event.”
Weather and climate
The report said the western U.S. was two to six degrees warmer than normal during August the remainder of the country was cooler than normal.
There were drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies and exceptional drought in Montana and North Dakota. Much of the west, with the exception of parts of the Sierra Nevada and the Four Corners region, saw as little as 25 percent of normal precipitation.
In the Great Basin the wet winter generated an “extraordinary” grass crop that was 200 to 300 percent above normal, “particularly across western and northern Nevada into southern Idaho and northwest Utah.”
The grasses are a major contributor to fire risk.
In Northern California, a decline in seasonal lightning will reduce fire risk. The outlook called for further risk reduction with passing wet cold fronts.
However, it added that “lower elevation areas farther south will still feel the effects of warm, dry weather and a robust, cured grass crop in October so above normal significant fire potential will continue there.”
The Southern California outlook called for above normal significant fire risk through October for most of the region and into December for areas subjected to Santa Ana winds.