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Higher-than-normal fire risk forecast for Southern Plains through March

by Bill Gabbert, Wildfire Today |

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued December 1 by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center predicts wildfire potential will be higher than normal in the Southern Plains through March 2021.

This will include portions of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Most of the southwest one-quarter of the United States is currently experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions.

The data from NIFC shown here represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

“La Niña and current fuel conditions remain the principal drivers of significant fire potential into spring. Drought conditions are expected to continue for much of California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest into the winter with drying expected to increase across portions of the southern Plains and Southeast. Offshore wind events will continue to be a concern across southern California in December given the dry fuels and lack of forecast precipitation through early December. Wind events may also drive short duration large fire activity in portions of the Great Basin, Southwest, and northern California, especially at lower elevations.

“Warmer and drier than normal conditions are expected across the southern tier of the U.S. this winter and into spring due to La Niña and other large-scale climate forcing. As a result, drought intensification and expansion across portions of the Plains, Southwest, Southern California, Texas, and along the Gulf coast into Georgia are likely.

"Above-normal significant fire potential is forecast in portions of the Southwest, southern and central Plains, and the Southern Area, especially near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts this winter into spring due to these warmer and drier conditions. Strong wind and low relative humidity events could occasionally increase significant fire potential in portions of the Great Basin as well.”