Several forest fires are already burning in Western Washington and crews are mopping up a big one in central Oregon. There were also two grass fires that burned near Middleton, Idaho just west of Boise, this past weekend.
Dry winds and above average temperatures predicted this summer and fall, have fire managers preparing for an earlier than usual season.
A high-pressure ridge since winter has dried the Northwest’s timberlands and big sage stands this spring. John Saltenberger, Fire Weather Program Manager for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, says based on what he’s seen, 2013 might be one of the driest years in the last century.
“We’re leading into fire season looking unusually dry for Oregon, Washington and Idaho," Saltenberger says. "We don’t know what the weather will be like during the fire season since that’s the most important factor, but going into it with higher than typical fire danger, we’re expecting more fires earlier in the year than typical.”
The U.S. Forest Service just announced that it plans to award contracts for seven next-generation firefighting air tankers in southern Oregon.
On the Web:
Map: Current large fires - Northwest Interagency Coordination Center