The wildfire season in the West is pretty much over. Snow in the Cascades of Washington and Oregon and in Montana’s Rocky Mountains and Northern California’s Siskiyou range have put an end to things. Wildfire is still a bit of a problem in Southern California but it’s growing more manageable by the day.
Here’s some good news. The wildfire season of 2016 burned 7,500 square miles and that’s below average. The 10-year average is 10,000 square miles says Boise, Idaho’s National Interagency Fire Center spokeswoman Jessica Gardetto.
“Just to compare, last year we burned over 10 million acres (15,625 square miles), and this year we didn't even reach 5 million (7,812 square miles) nationally. So, we burned twice as many acres last year as we did this year,” she said.
As we slide through fall and into winter forecasters are pushing their weather prognostications. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) U.S. Climate Prediction Center said La Nina is going to give the northern U.S. more rain and cooler temps. And the nation’s southern regions will see a drier, warmer winter.
Mike Halpert of the Climate Prediction Center said La Nina will develop late in the fall or early winter and if those conditions develop at all, they will be weak and short-lived. “This climate outlook provides the most likely outcome for the upcoming winter season, but it also provides the public with a good reminder that winter is just up ahead and it’s a good time to prepare for typical winter hazards, such as extreme cold and snowstorms,” he said.
Here is NOAA’s official 2016 winter outlook for December, 2016 through February, 2017:
- Wetter than normal conditions are most likely in the northern Rockies, around the Great Lakes, in Hawaii and in western Alaska
- Drier than normal conditions are most likely across the entire southern U.S. and southern Alaska
- Warmer than normal conditions are most likely across the southern U.S., extending northward through the central Rockies, in Hawaii, in western and northern Alaska and in northern New England
- Cooler conditions are most likely across the northern tier from Montana to western Michigan
- The rest of the country falls into the “equal chance” category, meaning that there is not a strong enough climate signal in these areas to shift the odds, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation
- Drought will likely persist through the winter in most regions currently experiencing drought, including much of California and the Southwest
- Drought is expected to persist and spread in the southeastern U.S. and develop in the southern Plains
- Drought improvement is anticipated in northern California, the northern Rockies, the northern Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley
What NOAA doesn’t know is where and when we’ll see snow and it can’t give snowfall accumulations.
Source links: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Insurance Journal