KALISPELL – On Friday, Flathead Fire Management officials met to discuss the severity of this year’s fire season.
Rick Connell with Flathead National Forest told MTN News that this year, parts of northwest Montana have above average wildfire potential. Connell added that he hopes for consistent rain and humidity to keep northwest Montana’s fire season at bay.
With only 80 to 90% of snowpack this year, compared to more than double last year, the ground is abnormally dry. Based on weather patterns, Connell predicts an average start to this fire season in late July.
Looking forward, Connell compared this year to last year’s fire potential.
“Normally August is a fairly dry month. We get tenths of inches of rain with storms. We don’t get what we’re getting right now where we’re getting a quarter to a half inch. So, that’s the normal set up,” he said. “Last year was warm and dry, but we didn’t have a lot of lightning, so we were below average for fire starts.”
Connell has been working with Flathead National Forrest for 10 years and told MTN News he’s studied Montana’s fire patterns over the past hundred years. He’s noticed a pattern. The state alternates between dry and wet summers, resulting in mild or severe wildfire seasons.
To prevent human-caused wildfires, Connell recommends fully dousing your campfires before walking away and cleaning up debris around your home to prevent embers from catching.
-Reported by Maren Siu/MTN News