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Published June 27, 2012
Wildland Fire Outlook(July–September 2012)
Data Source(s): National Interagency Coordination Center, Southwest Coordination Center
Above-normal significant fire potential is expected to continue across most of Arizona and western New Mexico until mid-July (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.
In the Southwest, fuel and soil moisture conditions remain extremely dry due to above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation—these conditions are reflected in the moderate to extreme drought that covers most of the Southwest (see Arizona Drought Status and New Mexico Drought Status). The monsoon, which historically begins in late June or early July in southern Arizona and New Mexico, will deliver much needed moisture and help squelch existing wildfires. The summer rains will also help limit the number of new blazes by increasing moisture in fuels such as brushes and trees. Until the monsoon begins, however, increasing dry lightning strikes will elevate the chances for new wildfires.
After mid-July the entire region is expected to move into normal significant fire potential due to increased monsoon moisture. However, there is uncertainty in this outlook as a result of unknowns in monsoon precipitation as well as the state of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). While the precipitation forecast calls for increased chances of above-average rainfall in July, forecasters are less confident in August and September precipitation. Also, if ENSO remains in neutral conditions, the northwestern portion of the region likely will experience drier conditions and would be at higher risk for wildfires. On the other hand, the development of an El Niño event favors drier conditions in the southeastern portion of the region, favoring higher fire risk there. ENSO forecasts favor a transition to El Niño in late summer.
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