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Forecasters predict “above normal” fire season in Northern Rockies

Posted at 10:36 AM, Apr 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-17 12:36:01-04

MISSOULA – There are more indicators we’re heading for an “above normal” fire season in Western Montana again later this summer.

Last year’s epic fire season burned hundreds of thousands of acres, especially in west-central and Northwest Montana, with most being sparked by passing lightning storms in mid-July.

The situation was made worse by an extraordinarily long dry spell that lasted for the entire month of August and into mid-September.

While it’s difficult to compare the 2017 fire season with what might develop this year, the latest outlook from National Interagency Fire Center in Boise is raising some warning signs.

The Center believes the threat of wildfire should remain “normal” through June, but starting in July is expected to push into “above normal” levels for Northwest and West Central and North Center Montana, as well as Northern Idaho. 

The National Interagency Fire Center says with the La Nina weather pattern winding down, the forecast models they’re monitoring show above average temps and below average precipitation in June for most of the region, and they believe that will lead to the “above average” fire potential later in the summer.