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More smoky days in Seattle this summer? Wildfire risk is on the rise

by Abby Acone, KOMO-TV news |

The risk for wildfires is significantly higher than normal in Western Washington heading into the summer.

New readings show low snowpack in the Cascades. In some areas it's anywhere from 27 percent to 49 percent of normal. That means higher fire risk.

While most of the large wildfires happen in Eastern Washington, the risk for extreme fires is still strong on the west side, too. 

Lt. Frank Dahlquist of East Side Fire and Rescue has seen his share of dangerous fires in the Greater Seattle area.

"The risk is here. We have that wild land urban interface where the homes are all up in the hillside in the trees," Dahlquist said.

Dry fuels play a major role in fire danger.

As of Monday, it was the driest start to the month of May since the 1940s. That's why it's great to finally look ahead to a wet and active weather trend over the next week or two. Even still, it will take long-term changes to see improvement to our dry vegetation.

Our recent rain-free weather has worsened our standing in the drought monitor.

Now, Southwest Washington is under the "moderate drought" category. Meanwhile, the rest of Western Washington is considered "abnormally dry," which is the lowest level on the drought spectrum.

On top of this, our snowpack is doing terribly – it's another factor that increases fire danger.

Our long-range forecast for the summer is calling for above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.