NIFC issues wildfire outlook for late summer, no significant threat in Wyoming
On Aug. 1, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) issued the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for August through November, which highlights increased fire activity in July, especially during the last two weeks as the national preparedness level increased from two to three – on a scale of one to five – on July 21.
“Much of the significant fire activity was in the Southwest Geographic Area, but the Northern Rockies and Northwest Geographic Areas have multiple long-duration incident management team wildfires on the landscape,” reads the report.
“Initial attack increased across much of the West throughout July, including in the Southern Geographic Area late in the month, with new large wildfires also emerging,” NIFC continues.
Current wildfire activity
According to NIFC’s website, 83 large fires have burned 519,654 acres across 12 states, as of Aug. 8.
Eight new large or emergency response wildfires were recently reported – two in Oregon and New Mexico and one in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado and Washington – and four fires have been contained.
To date, 32,186 wildfires have burned 1,364,123 acres, with nearly 27,900 caused by human activity and 2,935 caused by lightening. These numbers fall below the 10-year-average of 35,808 wildfires and 4,066,534 acres burned.
According to the Fire, Weather and Avalanche Center, Wyoming reported 14 active fires and 19 contained fires, as of Aug. 8.
Five of the active wildfires in the state are small, burning less than one acre.
These include the Green Mountain Fire, initially reported 17.7 miles northeast of Driggs, Idaho, burning 0.1 acres; the Rock Springs Fire, initially reported 3.8 miles northwest of Moose, burning 0.1 acres; the Gray Reef Fire, initially reported 23.8 miles southwest of Paradise Valley, burning 0.1 acres; the Station Creek Fire, initially reported 23.8 miles southwest of Milford, burning 0.2 acres and the North Loop Fire, initially reported 1.9 miles west of Casper, burning 0.2 acres.
Active fires burning over one acre include the Johnson Lateral Fire, initially reported 7.4 miles northwest of Bar Nunn, burning 1.2 acres; the Pine Fire, initially reported 7.9 miles southeast of Powder River, burning 1.5 acres; the Old Barnum Fire, initially reported 46.7 miles northwest of Antelope Hills, burning 1.5 acres; the Odegard Fire, initially reported 38 miles north of Gillette, also burning 1.5 acres and the Rouch Fire, initially reported 39.4 miles north of Gillette, burning 3.1 acres.
Larger fires in the state include the Tower Fire, initially reported 7.4 miles southeast of Douglas, with 100 acres burned; the West Wind Fire, initially reported 0.6 miles northwest of Bar Nunn, with 143 acres burned; the Chaffie Fire, initially reported 40.6 miles east of Sheridan, with 400 acres burned and the Pine Ridge Fire, initially reported 16.1 miles northwest of Torrington, with 563 acres burned.
When taking a look into the future, NIFC’s report notes the Rocky Mountain Area (RMA), which includes the state of Wyoming, is expected to continue seeing normal fire potential from August through November.
“The monsoon has been late to arrive, but monsoonal moisture will become more prevalent in early August. This will help to keep fire potential closer to normal,” explains NIFC. “It should be noted with El Niño conditions continuing, the monsoon could still be more intermittent than normal. Thus, brief periods of increased fire potential are possible.”
NIFC further notes year-over-year drought indicators continue to show improvement for the majority of the RMA, except for parts of Kansas and Nebraska, and long-term outlooks show above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the Western half of the region.
Areas of the RMA that saw cooler and wetter than usual conditions are seeing above normal fuel loading and moisture.
“Western Colorado into Southwestern Wyoming have seen fuels responding quickly to the hot and dry conditions, with most areas seeing fuel moistures dropping below normal and recently started exceeding minimum values,” reads the report.
It concludes, “The outlook for the RMA depicts normal significant fire potential across the geographic area through November. There may be periods of enhanced fire potential based on the potential for a weaker monsoon given the EL Niño pattern and local fuel conditions, but the larger scale picture favors normal significant fire potential.”
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.