A warm, wetter-than-normal summer should reduce the threat of wildfires in Northwest timber country.
The long-range forecast for June, July and August in Washington, Oregon and the Idaho Panhandle calls for near-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation, said Rick Ochoa, a meteorologist at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.
“That’s some good news there as far as fires go,” he said.
In September, October and November, temperatures and precipitation are expected to be in the normal range, he said.
Meterologists in Spokane said there is a 38 percent chance of a wetter-than-normal summer, but some of the precipitation could come in the form of thundershowers.
Lightning storms can also present a risk of forest fires, said John Livingston, meterologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Spokane.
Last summer was a devastating fire season for much of the Western United States. Wildfires burned more than 210,000 acres in Washington, mostly in the central part of the state.
In Idaho, more than 500,000 acres were scarred by fire in the Boise and Payette national forests, south of the Panhandle.
This year, fewer timber fires are expected, but a rain-rich summer could bring a small increase in rangeland fires late in the season because more grass has grown, Ochoa said.
Northwest reservoirs are generally in good shape with much of Washington and Oregon receiving more precipitation than normal since the water-year began on Oct. 1.
The region has been in drought for the eight or nine of the last nine or 10 years, Ochoa said.
“I don’t think one year of above-normal precipitation will solve that,” he said.
MEMO: IDAHO HEADLINE: Wet summer expected to reduce wildfire threat