Weather wise: Fire Season-Ending storms

Weather Wise: Fire Season-Ending storms
Posted at 11:25 AM, Sep 05, 2023

On this rainy and cool Labor Day, wildfire danger may not be top of mind as a storm is producing record daily rainfall in some areas of the Northern Rockies. But the question on top of many people’s minds, is this a fire season ender? The long and short answer is no, but it brings us closer to the end.

2023 is a dreary, rainy Labor Day but it certainly beats the alternative. Just six years ago on this holiday weekend, wildfires blew up in a very different situation on route to a record-breaking fire season. That year's fire season ended in dramatic fashion with a late summer snowstorm that dropped feet of snow on some fires.

While this storm is producing snow on some of the peaks, more than an inch of rain has fallen in parts of the state. This storm is not a fire season ender, but it is bringing the state closer to the finish.

A storm like this really wets the ground and dampens existing fires. This year just over 114,000 acres have burned here in Montana but the peak activity is in the past. Over the last couple of weeks, the number of fires has decreased and the existing fires have shown minimal growth. Recent wet and cool stretches have minimized fire behavior while simultaneously allowing firefighters to significantly increase containment.

Dry, warm and windy weather into the fall can allow for increased fire danger. The West Wind Fire destroyed 25 homes and grain elevators in Denton on December 1, 2021.

But this year's drought conditions are not as severe and a timely rain like this gets us closer to the finish line.