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Montana Seeing Near-Average Conditions Heading Into Wildfire Season

This graph shows the significant wildfire potential across Motana.
National Interagency Fire Center
This graph shows the significant wildfire potential across Motana.

Montana is heading into this year’s wildland fire season with near-average conditions.

The National Interagency Fire Center’s Predictive Services forecasts light wildfire potential and activity through April, though warm and breezy periods before spring green-up could lead to fire activity along the Rocky Mountain Front as storms move through.

Western Montana received less than half of its average precipitation in March. But temperatures were also below average, saving mountain snowpack.

Western Montana is expected to see a warmer and drier May and June, which could lead to accelerated snowpack melting, fine fuels curing and dead fuels drying out. The onset of fire season there is expected in early June.

Central and eastern Montana are forecast to see near-average temperatures and near- to above-average precipitation through June. NIFC says soils appear moist enough to stop fuels from rapidly drying out. Normal fire potential is expected through July.

Firefighters on the Crow Tribe’s reservation have already responded to nearly two-dozen wildland fires there caused by escaped ditch burning, an untended sweat, abandoned campfires and a sparking electric utility pole.