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Published May 23, 2012
Wildland Fire Outlook(June–August 2012)
Data Source(s): National Interagency Coordination Center, Southwest Coordination Center
Above-normal significant fire potential is expected across most of Arizona and the very western portion of New Mexico for the June–August period (Figure 14). Significant fire potential is defined as those fires that require additional resources external to the region in which the fire originates in order to suppress the flames.
Currently, fuel and soil moisture conditions are extremely dry across most of the region due to above-average temperatures in recent months and below-average precipitation that accumulated during the winter and spring. However, even though grasses, shrubs, and trees are very dry, the profusion of these fine fuels is much lower than they were last year around this time. This lower amount may help reduce the number of acres burned this year in comparison to last, which was record setting for both Arizona and New Mexico.
The above-normal significant fire potential outlook is influenced by forecasts that call forabove-average temperatures, for the June–August period, according to the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center. Warmer-than-average temperatures will help further desiccate an already parched landscape. Also, fuel and soil moistures likely will remain extremely low until the monsoon begins around July 1 because the months preceding the summer rainy season are historically dry. In the weeks leading up to the monsoon, surges of moisture likely will move west across New Mexico into Arizona and will trigger more frequent dry lightning strikes, which elevate the risk for wildland fires. These lightning-caused fires usually peak in mid- to late June and wane as the monsoon ramps up and moisture dampens the landscape. Forecasts are still uncertain about when the monsoon will start and how vigorous it will be.
The National Interagency Coordination Center at the National Interagency Fire Center produces seasonal wildland fire outlooks each month. The forecasts (Figure 14) 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
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, Managing Editor, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Dollin, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
- Dave Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
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