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Meteorologists cautiously optimistic of a relatively mild MT wildfire season

Posted at 7:10 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-01 21:12:15-04

MISSOULA – Meteorologists at the Northern Rockies Coordination Center are cautiously optimistic of a relatively mild summer wildfire season.

In addition to seeing a wet and cool winter and early spring, plus a healthy snowpack, long-range outlooks are trending toward a cooler and wetter summer across much of the Northern Rockies.

The expectation is that the wildfire season of 2019 will be similar to the relatively benign seasons of 2016 and 2018.

With the lean toward the potential for more moisture, that may bring higher chances of thunderstorms into play, but more than likely, those will be storms that come with a lot of rain, negating issues lightning strike fire starts.

Northcentral Idaho and extreme Northwest Montana are one area forecasters are keeping an eye on.

“It has been drier with lower snowpacks over the past several months up there, so if they stay a little drier in those areas we would have higher potential in July and August for increased activity,” NRCC Predictive Services Meteorologist Michael Richmond said.

Regardless of the severity of fire season in western Montana this summer, it’s almost a guarantee that smoke will periodically invade the valleys due to fires outside that area.

-Meteorologist Russ Thomas reporting for MTN News