By Brett Rathbun, AccuWeather meteorologist
May 31,2017, 8:30:10AM,EDT
Wildfires will pose a threat to the southwestern United States this summer despite significant rain and snow this past winter.“After a much needed very wet winter season, the summer months mark the beginning of the main fire season,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Western U.S. Expert Ken Clark said.
Numerous storms during the winter season put a significant dent in the drought across the Southwest, especially across California. This, in turn has led to substantial growth of vegetation this spring.
All areas of extreme and exceptional drought were erased in California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of May 23, more than 75 percent of the state is no longer in a drought.
While the drought has lessened across the region, this does not necessarily correlate to a quiet wildfire season.
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“With plentiful vegetation already drying out, some early season wildfires have already ignited,” Clark said.
Recent wildfires have stretched from parts of the Central Valley to Southern California. Most of these early season fires have burned less than 100 acres each, according to Cal Fire.
A small brush fire sparked due to a weed whacker outside of Los Angeles on May 28, according to the Los Angeles Times.
How busy this wildfire season becomes will be determined by two factors, according to Clark.
“Two of the main variables to how active a fire season will be include lightning and the actions of man,” Clark said.
Keeping cars parked away from dry vegetation and properly throwing away cigarette butts are just some of the ways humans can help prevent the start of a fire.
“If you live in a fire prone area, now is the time to make sure there is ample clearance of brush and trees from around your house,” Clark said.
The AccuWeather Long Range team expect temperatures to rise significantly in July, increasing the chances for wildfires.