Forecasters Predict Above-Average Year for Wildfires in the West

May 11, 2018

Federal officials predict this will be an especially dangerous year for wildfires in the West. A new report highlights fire weather conditions in a dozen states. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Credit USDA/Kari Greer

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, a dozen states including Arizona, California and Colorado will experience heightened spring and summer wildfire potential. The West has a below-normal snowpack, and forecasters are calling for increased lighting and thunderstorm activity.

"As we get into June and July we see an expansion of the trouble areas especially across the Southwest, moving more toward the western parts of Arizona and northward into Utah and a more broader area of northern Nevada," says Ed Delgado, national program manager of the Fire Center’s Predictive Services.

The Forest Service has brought on more than 10,000 firefighters nationwide. Congress this year set aside $1.5 billion for wildfire suppression. In 2017, the Forest Service spent a record high of $2.4 billion.

If the season turns out to be as extreme as predicted, the agency could face funding shortfalls, forcing it to pull money from non-fire programs.