NCW Not In Wildfire Season Yet, Despite Possible Incoming Smoke
Wildfires in Alberta, Canada are threatening to send heavy smoke into Washington state as part of the easterly flow pattern that's coming with hot weather this weekend.
Early May is typically the start of wildland fire season in Alberta, as snowmelt uncovers dead vegetation that can become fuel for fires.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Bodnar says the chance for fires here is much lower, even with incoming hot weather.
"Our fire danger won't be a major concern with this heatwave this time of year because we're in what's called "green up"," said Bodnar. "Most of the grasses are just starting to grow, and the fine fuels are still green."
Spring "green up" is when temperature and light conditions are favorable for grass growth again after winter.
Wildfire season in Washington typically starts in May and ends in October, but it's been starting in late June and July in recent years.
Also, late rains in spring or early rains in fall can shorten the season.
The National Interagency Fire Center projects above normal wildfire conditions will hit North Central Washington in July.
But Bodnar says the chance for fires will pickup with continued hot weather.
"As we continue to see day after day of these hot, dry conditions, the forest litter, the pine needles, the dead logs, they'll start to dry out," Bodnar said. "So, recreationists do want to use a little bit of caution as we get into multiple days of this dry weather."
Temperatures are expected to be at or above 90 in the region from Sunday through Thursday of next week.
According to the NASA Earth Observatory, there were more than 100 wildland fires across Western Canada in early May, which forced tens of thousands of people in Alberta and British Columbia to evacuate.
As of Monday, there were 29 fires burning out of control in Alberta, which has been hit hardest by the fires.
A state of emergency was declared last weekend in Alberta, where the fires have been so intense, they've produced towering chimneys of smoke which have shown up on NASA’s Terra satellite imagery.