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Wildfire potential above normal in Plains, February through April

by Bill Gabbert, Wildfire Today |

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued Jan. 1 by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center predicts wildfire potential will be higher than normal in the Southern Plains February through April. This will include portions of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas. Most of the southwest quarter of the United States is currently experiencing severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

The data from NIFC represents the cumulative forecasts of the 10 Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

“La Niña will continue to significantly affect the weather and climate patterns through winter and into spring. Drought conditions are expected to continue for much of California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest through winter into spring with drying expected to increase across portions of the Plains and Southeast,” the report says. “Recent cool and wet weather in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic along with climate outlooks suggest normal to below normal significant fire potential is likely for large portions of the Southeast, Appalachians, and Mid-Atlantic. However, an early and active start to the fire season is expected for the southern High Plains during late winter.

“Given the background drought and anticipated warmer and drier than normal conditions across the Southwest and southern Plains, significant fire potential is forecast to be above normal during the spring. Lower elevations in the Southwest are favored to have above normal significant fire potential beginning in March and April. Oklahoma, eastern New Mexico, and most of Texas are forecast to have an active spring fire season before green-up in March and April and possibly beginning as early as February.

“Above-normal significant fire potential is also likely to extend north into southern Kansas and southeast Colorado in March and April.”