Wildfire season could be below normal in US this year but it's not all good news

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, only 10% of the nation is dealing with drought conditions, which is the lowest it has been in recent history.

EUGENE, Ore. - As summer approaches, experts from the University of Oregon are warning residents of the West that the country is heading into what typically is the most active period for wildfires.

Despite wet weather during the winter and spring, the pattern may not provide the protection for which many have hoped.

"Wet springs can produce abundant grass and shrub cover, which are the most flammable for spreading fire," Daniel Gavin, a professor of geography at UO, said in a statement.

Every year, the U.S. sees thousands of wildfires that burn some 7.4 million acres, but these figures can vary dramatically depending on what weather patterns are at play.

To combat against potential threats, the Oregon Hazards Lab has expanded its network of cameras to approximately 1,200 across several western states. The goal is to help provide early detection of smoke and flames.


During increased risks of wildfire outbreaks, authorities and local power companies may resort to temporarily shutting off power grids, which may cause additional challenges for affected communities.

The university highlighted instances of water disruption, loss of communications and loss of other necessities, which can inconvenience residents.

"That de-energization is a great way to avoid the risk of those utilities-started fires, but they create a cascade of issues that come from that for communities," stated Amanda Stasiewicz, an assistant professor of environmental studies at UO.

Furthermore, the university warned that any amount of smoke can be hazardous, no matter its source.

Parts of the West already experience unhealthy air due to pollutants, with wildfires adding additional particles that can penetrate deep inside the lungs.


Outlooks show good news for fire activity

Data from the U.S. Drought Monitor and National Interagency Fire Center show that most of the country may be in store for either normal or even below normal fire activity courtesy of some wet weather.

According to the latest drought monitor, only 10% of the nation is officially in a drought, which is among some of the lowest values ever reported.

Areas where drought conditions are still prevalent include the northern Rockies, New Mexico and West Texas.

U.S. Drought Monitor
(FOX Weather)


Taking drought conditions into consideration, the NIFC expects large parts of California to see below-normal fire activity through the summer, with an above-average threat for fires in New Mexico, the Rockies, the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.

The center reports, year-to-date, 1,921,280 acres have burned. Most of that occurred during the Smokehouse Creek Fire, which consumed 1.1 million acres in Texas and Oklahoma.

Authorities blamed improperly functioning utility equipment for being the cause of the massive blaze.