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Published July 25, 2012
Wildland Fire Outlook(August–October 2012)
Data Source(s): National Interagency Coordination Center, Southwest Coordination Center
Normal significant fire potential is expected across Arizona and New Mexico for August through October (Figure 13). Significant fire potential refers to the likelihood that a wildland fire will require additional resources from outside the area in which the fire originated.
Moisture from the monsoon has helped reduce the number and size of wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico, particularly in southern areas. While some parts of the region remain in severe drought, soil and fuel moisture levels have generally increased over the last month, and these trends are expected to continue. Forecasts from the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) show increased chances for above-average precipitation, especially across Arizona and western New Mexico. This means that the drought and related impacts are likely to improve through October. Wildfire risk and activity should therefore continue to decrease across parts of the Southwest. However, there is uncertainty in the precipitation forecast because the monsoon is always variable. Although it is off to an early and vigorous start, it is common to have protracted breaks in monsoon rainfall, which would increase risks of fire, especially in places that have received fewer summer storms. So far, the state of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) may also influence precipitation in coming months. The expectation is that sea surface temperatures will continue to warm, causing an El Niño event in coming months. In the past, El Niño events have caused a slight decrease in precipitation in parts of southern, central, and northwestern Arizona during the July–September period. El Niño events, however, increase chances for above-average precipitation in many parts of Arizona and New Mexico during the winter.
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