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Above Average Wildfire Risk in Western States

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Army National Guard
Monday, July 09, 2018

National Guard troops from California, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming already have responded to wildfires this year beginning a season the National Interagency Fire Center predicts could be dangerous because of abnormally dry conditions on the West Coast.

“Some improvement was noted across the southern Great Plains while drought emergence was observed across the Lower Mississippi River Valley,” says the July 1 fire outlook. “Preexisting drought conditions and continued drier-than-average conditions across the Southwest allowed for a normal progression of the fire season across the Four Corners Region until midmonth when the remnants of Hurricane Bud moved north from Mexico and produced widespread wetting rainfall that reduced the elevated large fire potential in that area.”

The Southwest faces less wildfire risk. “While rainfall amounts that were greater than 200 percent of average were received across Arizona, New Mexico and portions of southwestern Colorado, the Great Basin and California remained very dry, receiving less than 10 percent of average precipitation,” the forecast says.

“Above normal” fire conditions exist in the Northwestern states through September, in Northern California and the Great Basin through August and in Southern California through October. Southern states have a below-normal potential for wildfires.

In 2017, the National Guard responded to 40 wildfires, along with 10 hurricanes or tropical storms, 15 floods, 8 winter storms and 8 other severe weather activities, according to the National Guard Bureau’s 2019 posture statement.