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Published April 25, 2012
Wildland Fire Outlook(May–July 2012)
Data Source(s): National Interagency Coordination Center, Southwest Coordination Center
Significant wildfire potential is expected to increase from normal to above normal across most of Arizona and the western third of New Mexico during the May–July period, according to the April 1 seasonal fire outlook issued by the National Interagency Coordination Center’s Predictive Services (Figure 13). Significant wildfire potential is defined as the likelihood that a wildland fire will require additional fire-fighting resources from outside the area in which the fire originated.
Warmer- and drier-than-average conditions that characterized the winter and spring in most of Arizona and western New Mexico influence this outlook in countervailing ways. While these conditions contributed to the persistence of drought and low soil moistures—two factors that can prime the landscape for fires—they also have stunted the growth of grasses and small woody shrubs, which is expected to delay the onset of the wildfire season. Also, because grasses and shrubs are not as vigorous as they were one year ago, there is moderate confidence that large-scale fires will not be as widespread or frequent this summer as last.
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), however, is a wildcard for the upcoming fire season. If El Niño conditions develop this summer—a slight possibility at present—the northwestern portions of the Southwest may experience cooler and wetter conditions than expected, while southeastern areas may see drier conditions. The ENSO forecasts will become clearer in upcoming months.
The National Interagency Coordination Center at the National Interagency Fire Center produces seasonal wildland fire outlooks each month. The forecasts (Figure 13) consider observed climate conditions, climate and weather forecasts, vegetation health, and surface-fuels conditions in order to assess fire potential for fires greater than 100 acres. They are subjective assessments, that synthesize information provided by fire and climate experts throughout the United States.
National Wildland Fire Outlook web page :
Southwest Coordination Center web page :
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Dan Ferguson, CLIMAS Program Director
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Gigi Owen, CLIMAS Assistant Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Swetish, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
The CLIMAS Web site contains official and non-official forecasts, as well as other information. While we make every effort to verify this information, please understand that we do not warrant the accuracy of any of these materials.... Read full disclaimer