Weather Wise: Montana wildfire season coming to a close?

Weather Wise: Wildfire season coming to a close?
Posted at 2:25 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 16:26:02-04

Several recent wildfires on the Rocky Mountain Front that were started by people over the last month serve as evidence that Montana’s wildfire season is not cooked just yet, but overall activity is winding down.

To date, the 2021 wildfire season in Montana has burned nearly 940,000 thousand acres, well above average.

California once again made national news headlines all season long for large, out of control, deadly wildfires. But overall across the western united states, both the number of wildfires and acreage burned was below average.

There have been 47,525 large fires that have burned nearly 6.5 million acres this year. This year's fire season has burned nearly 2 million acres less than last year. From 2011 to 2020, an average of 62,800 wildfires burned 7.5 million acres annually.

So why the dichotomy from Montana’s above-average season and below average across the west? The monsoon. A stronger than normal monsoon pattern produced above-average rain and below-average summer temperatures for much of the southwest.

This same pattern led to warmer than average temperatures and more dry thunderstorm activity over the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies including Montana, leading to more wildfire starts.