The Alaska Interagency Coordination Center’s predictive services desk released it’s Alaska Monthly Fire Potential Outlook on Monday and its pretty much an echo of what we’ve been hearing all winter: Expect an early start to the wildland fire season.
• The forecast for March is normal across all of Alaska, as there is little fire activity expected during the winter and early spring. April and May are expected to see an increase in activity around South Central, particularly around the Anchorage Bowl and Kenai Peninsula.
• Climate Prediction Center (CPC) outlook maps continue to indicate a high likelihood of warmer than normal conditions across the entire state through the spring. These warm temperatures are contributing to low snowpack in parts of southern Alaska once again this winter, with worst conditions around the Anchorage Bowl and Kenai Peninsula. Much like last spring, this may lead to early exposure of burnable fuels and increasing fire activity two to three weeks earlier than normal. This could create increased fire potential particularly in the fine fuels along the populated corridors of southern Alaska as early as mid March. It is likely that the Alaskan Interior will soon follow suit in early April.
• Though late-season snows may help the situation, the last two years have had similar external factors, such as a warm water pool in the Gulf of Alaska and a forcing of colder air farther north. If this winter continues at these warmer temperatures, this spring may emerge in much the same way as last year’s, which had high fire danger in much of southern Alaska in April.
Go to http://fire.ak.blm.gov/predsvcs/outlooks.php and click on the Alaska Monthly Fire Potential Outlook link.