Wildfire season expected to be above-average despite all the rain

Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 17:36:39-04

BOISE, Idaho — The rain kept coming down this month, and so far, it ranks as the third most precipitation Boise has ever had in June.

So what does that mean for the wildfire season, which forecasters expected to be worse than usual because of a below-average snowpack this year?

"Idaho has had in excess of 300 percent of the average precipitation over the past month," said Brian Henry, the national fire weather program manager at NIFC. "That's just amazing, it is slowing down the drying and the curing of the grasses."

Henry told us he still expects an above-average wildfire season, but all the rain could make the season shorter while also giving firefighters more time to prepare.

"It does it help balance things, especially with everything else currently going on with COVID," said Henry. "My main focus this year is really across the southern half of the state, mainly from the Salmon river south."

Northern Idaho is in good shape because the snowpack has gradually melted, but that has not been the case in southern Idaho.

"I think we are in for an above-normal fire season, I don't expect it to be a record season though it will slightly be above-average," said Henry.

The rain could also have some adverse effects as Henry told us there is a second crop of cheatgrass growing, which could give potential fires more fuel to burn.

With warmer weather on the horizon, it is essential for people recreating to be diligent as we move into dryer conditions, 87 percent of wildfires are human-caused.

The National Interagency Fire Center currently has a fire preparedness level of three on a scale of one to five.

Several fires are burning in the southwest, with most of those concentrated in Arizona.