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David Sparks Ph.d PNW Wildfires
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: May 21, 2019

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Let's just think about how devastating wildfires have been to the Rocky Mountain West through the Pacific Northwest in the last couple of years. Not only have they created havoc with our environment in terms of smoke and forest destruction, but they have demanded staggering financial loads to the State and Federal agencies that have been forced to contain them. But now, we learn of an unusual winter for Western Washington State and Western Oregon could raise the threat of wildfires going into the summer months.

The latest National Wildfire outlook from the National Interagency Fire Center covers not just this month but the summer months as well. And according to USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippy being monitored is one area perhaps abnormal as a wildfire threat in late spring and summer.

The wild card this year is we have had a relatively dry late winter and early spring across parts of the Pacific Northwest. So we are expecting an enhanced threat of wildfires in some areas that are typically not really thought of as a wildfire area. That would be west of the Cascades plus early winter snow and precipitation may contribute to growth of fine fuels like grasses. And once those cure they could be available to start fires. So that's something to watch. RIPPY adds that wildfire threat over the summer may spread east of the cascades and into more traditional wildfire areas like the Northern Rockies. And that may be one of the hotspots for wildfires this summer.

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